Lessons Learned Through 42 Interviews With Editors

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Twain Richardson

Twain Richardson is an Editor who lives in Kingston Jamaica. You may know him on Twitter and #PostChat as @Frame_Reference or through his blog Frame of Reference, where he interviews some of the best editors in the world.

To date, he has published 42 interviews, and he has many more just waiting to be shared. I thought it was high-time to speak with Twain to see what kinds of useful nuggets of information he has extracted from his interviewees and how these interviews have shaped how he edits.

It's an impossible job to cram all this information into one interview, so next time things are rendering you should jump on over to his blog and pick up some tips from your peers. Your time will be rewarded.

What type of projects have you been working on lately?

I've worked on short films, documentaries, television series, corporate videos and promos for a wide variety of clients ranging from broadcast to cable networks. My last couple of projects have been The Wray & Nephew Contender, Magnum Kings & Queens of Dancehall, Digicel Rising Stars, College Lifestyle and The Innovators.

Currently I'm working on Season 3 of The Innovators and Digicel Rising Stars.

This interview series is a fantastic resource for the editing and post community. What got you started?

I've always wanted to do a blog, but I had no idea what to blog about. I realized that there were a lot of blogs about tutorials but none that spoke specifically to or about Editors. I then made the decision to start blogging and the result is a website with some amazing interviews.

You've talked to a diverse group of very skilled professionals. Can you help summarize the lessons you have learned?

Process

My favorite question to ask is "Give us a run through of your editing process". This I think is the core of each interview, as every interviewee has a different process in which they attack their project. From Alan Bell's process of watching all the dailies before he does anything else, to Jamie Cobb's process of reading the script several times before she starts and while she's cutting. They've all been great.

Organization

I learned about organization when I first started working at Hype TV. The Senior Editor always stressed to us that we had to be organized so that if one of us couldn't make it to work, the others could pick up the project and continue editing without pulling out their hair. I have carried this along in my freelance career.

The guests on the blog have helped to reiterate how important organization is. Every single interviewee has stressed this importance.

Storytelling

You aren't an editor until you learn when not to make a cut. Every decision you make should be in the advancement of the story.

Getting through complex edits

This is another interesting question that gets asked. Zach Arnold mentioned that you should never give up, while Sebastian Lloyd uses post-it-notes to jot down points, Ryan Case believes you should be patient, while Ron Sussman says you should get up and walk away from the computer, take a break. Go sit outside and close your eyes and just "be" for a little while. You will be surprised how much more refreshed and how much vigor you have afterwards. These have all been some great points and others have made some great points as well.

Tools

I assume by Tool you mean NLE. Each editor has their preferred NLE. We do see most preferring Media Composer.

My personal take on this is don't be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Master one NLE and know the others.

What's the most helpful tip you've received from your guests?

One of the best tips is from John Lee who got his tip from his father-in law, Bob Jones, who said "cut to what you want to see, when you want to see it." Another of my favorites is when Nancy Forner said "Editing is not a science it is an art…and art is found within, art is discovered in the process. The sculpture is discovered while the sculptor has his hands IN THE CLAY." Monica Daniel believes "Editing takes time and thought and you should be patient." These are just some of my favourites.

Can you give me a rundown of your editing process? How has this changed since starting your series?

My process is pretty much the same, only now with a lot less hair pulling. I start to organize the project as the files come in. I like to have the time to go through all the footage, but not all projects allow it. I then proceed to make a rough cut - Show director rough cut - Get notes - Adjust accordingly - More Notes - Picture lock - Project complete. I've adjusted it a bit based on a few tips I've gotten from the blog.

Who would you like to land as an interview? Why?

There are so many inspiring and admirable editors I would like to interview. I can think of several who edited films I absolutely adore. I would love to land Michael Khan, Thelma Schoonmaker, Walter Murch, Anne Coates, Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter, William Goldenberg, Terry Rawlings, Tom Rolf, Kelly Dixon, Herve Schneid, Pietro Scalia, and the list goes on. Why? Because these are some of the best at the craft. There are also a lot of editors who participate in the weekly PostChat as well that I would not only love to interview but to meet as well. I would love to meet every single interviewee I've had, there is just something about meeting another editor and geeking out.

A lot of people are scared to approach people for things like interviews. Any tips you can share on reaching out to people you want to interview?

Ask and you shall receive. That's what I did and it worked wonderful. I have yet to get a No, everyone has said yes and I am very grateful for it. Just ask nicely.

What sort of response have you received from the editing community on the series?

The response has been great, editors seems to love it. As I said earlier, there is no other blog of this sort, so you find that it is welcomed. The questions were formulated by asking editors on Twitter "what would you like to read on a blog about editors". I scaled the responses down to the questions I ask. So it is literally by editors for editors, and I love it. I love reading through the interviews and I love that it is helping others as well. A big thank you to all who have participated and for those to come.