The Editor

This Week's Film Crew 101 Guest:

Today our host is Amy Janes, a producer, editor, and cinematographer based in Oklahoma.  Amy’s guest today is editor Stuart Levy, whose credits include Any Given Sunday, Red Eye, Nim’s Island, Foxcatcher, Insurgent, Allegiant, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms



Listen To The Episode Here:



The Editor

An editor begins work on the first day of production. Once they receive footage from the previous day of shooting, an editor will watch and organize it to be able to find needed material efficiently later on.  The editor will sometimes decide how they want the footage to be organized and communicate this with the first assistant editor, who will then organize the footage as the editor moves on to edit scenes. 

Working from the organized footage, the editor will choose actor performances, camera angles, and shot sizes that they feel best relay the geography of the scene. They then cut the footage down into scenes and, once the scenes are completed, assemble sequences. Paying close attention to performances and pacing, the editor follows the script to assemble the first cut of the film. Aiming to make the editor’s cut feel as close to a finished film as possible, they will add in music and special effects where they are able. 

At this stage of the process, the editor invites the director to see the first cut, taking notes on how the cut can be changed to fit the director’s vision for the film. Working together, they will refine pacing and dialogue, decide which scenes to cut, and choose which characters and story points they want to focus on. An editor takes careful notes as they work with the director, incorporating these notes into the edit until the final cut of the film has been completed. 


What’s the editor good at?


Organization: Be able to organize footage effectively and efficiently, to know how to create a system of organization that your team will follow.


Endurance: An editor must look at the same film footage over and over again but see it in fresh, new ways each time. As an editor, you will also need to stay mentally sharp and focused despite long hours.


Attention to detail: Tracking character development, pacing, and size of shots in each scene, keeping in mind how they will work to enhance the film as a whole, requires diligence and precision on behalf of the editor. 


Communication: An editor needs to listen well and communicate clearly with their team about what is required to achieve the best cut of the film possible at every stage of the process. 


Understanding of story: A thorough understanding of how the film’s tone, characters, and plot interact will help any editor make good decisions on behalf of the film. 


Note-taking: An editor will need to take clear notes from the director and producers on each cut of the film. This requires precision, understanding the intent of each note, good writing skills, and a commitment to continued, productive communication with the team. 


Who does the editor work with?


1st Assistant Editor



What is the salary range?

Varies between TV and film. Editors for TV can make $2,000 per week - $6,000 per week, whereas editors for a film can make $2,000 per week to $6,000+ per week.


Position Terminology: 


Selects: How the editor wants the footage organized 

Cut:  A cut refers to a version of the film that is put together by the editor

Editor’s Cut:  Also referred to as the “first cut,” the editor assembles this cut of the film first on his or her own before sharing it with the director for notes. 

Dailies: The raw, unedited footage shot on any given day on a film set.


Books about editing: 

In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch


Learn More:  

Learn more about Stuart Levy:

Learn more about Amy Janes:


Thank you to the Oklahoma Film and Music Office for sponsoring this episode! 

Learn more about filming in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Look Book 2019


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