The Value of Editing

28 12 2007

David Prior, who was one of the original directors at and a co-founder of AIP Distributing (from the 80s and 90s, not the one from the 60s as Gregory Conley’s comment below points out — in my original post I incorrectly referred to the 60s company with the same initials), is interviewed by Your Video Store Shelf website. He talks about how naive they were when they started and then answers a question about what the biggest thing they learned was:

There were three of us in a partnership at that time. We didn’t know. None of us had gone to film school. We did none of these things. But the biggest lesson … we didn’t have any money to pay an editor. So basically that job went to me. I rented a flatbed, an editing table, from a rental house and when I ordered it I didn’t even know what I was ordering. I just told them I had 35mm film. That was probably my biggest learning lesson because that’s what taught me everything I did wrong on that movie. When you’re trying to cut something together that’s when you find out what doesn’t work — when angles aren’t right and screen directions aren’t right. You really, really learn. Ever since that happened was my advice to young filmmakers has always been to edit first.

[The first part of the two-part interview begins here. The editing quote appears in part two.]

I’ve often felt that, as an editor, that I have to learn about all aspects of filmmaking. It’s part of my job. Cinematographers don’t have to know about editing very well, but I can’t supervise a color timing session if I don’t know how they’ve tried to shape the light. Costume designers don’t have to know about all of the other crafts, but I hear about it if I cut in a shot where the character has a shirt unbuttoned (remind me to tell you the FAME costuming story one time). In fact, at dailies, I find that the people who are concerned about everything up on the screen — as opposed to their individual departments — are always the producer, the director and me — the editor.

As such, I learn. And not just about angles and screen direction. I learn about everything.

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One response

29 12 2007
Gregory Conley

Glad to see you liked my interview.

One quick correction — the AIP I’m talking about was in the eighties and nineties. There have been multiple companies over the years who have taken a name with those initials to hit upon the familiarity.

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