Write Up Wednesday

Books on Editing

They say that to write well you should read more.  I’ve always read, but I think I’ve written less as I’ve begun to edit more.   And whenever I can find a good potential read about the craft or tech of editing, I’ll always pick that lonely copy up from the shelf and devour it on my commute or maybe during my render time!  The truth is that while there are a hundred books on screen crafts like directing and perhaps 1000s of books on screenwriting, there aren’t that many on editing. I’ve found a good 10 or so that I’d like to share, so over the next 6 months or so thought I’d re-read them and just give you an idea of a couple of good reads out there.

I’m not really big on RULE books (capital R) and I think that comes from my self education when I was pursuing screenwriting (like every other Writer/Director kid who goes to film school!)

My first book on the craft was Syd Field’s “Screenplay”, and while that still gathers dust on my shelf there are a bucket-ton more that have been put out at garage sales or donated away!   

Rules are fine, but now, as an experienced editor, I still find it infinitely more interesting and a heck of a lot more fun to read about experiences of accomplished editors!  (Sidenote: the CCE are going to be publishing a lot more of our members’ stories online in the coming years, developing this into a big resource!)   Learning about cutters’ habits, their workflow, their shortcuts or their discipline illuminates much more than a by-the-book ‘cut on the action.

The great thing is that there are so many resources online and with the digital age well into it’s teens the spotlight is being turned increasingly on the craft.  A lot of the books I’m going to review are dated – a few deal with editors in the 60s, and even Behind The Seen seems to have taken place a lifetime ago in terms of computing (Final Cut 4?????SERIOUSLY? ) Still, the tools may have changed, but the story telling craft is fascinating.  And we can still learn a huge amount from these things. And after reading most of these, I have to say that it doesn’t really matter whether you cut docs, reality TV or the biggest blockbuster films – the process and problem solving we do in the dark is very much the same.  The canvas (ahem, and the cost of the…paint ?   This analogy is getting long) may change, but the skills needed are the same.

So let’s kick back, hit render, and have a read!

Being the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain using Apples' Final Cut Pro and What This Means For Cinema

Film Craft: Editing by Justin Chang (2011)