Getting to know you

Went to MPEG this evening for Bill Pankow‘s editing masterclass.

He showed clips from the films he’s worked on over the years – including a deleted musical number from the Black Dahlia – burnt onto a DVD from his Avid this very morning.

Here are some of the things he said during and after the seminar.

If you have to choose between making a smooth cut between to a performance that isn’t so great and a jarring cut to the best performance, go for performance very time: “Performance is King… or Queen”

When you’re up for a job editing a film with a director that’s new to you, you get to close the deal by having a short interview. These last for twenty minutes or so, and revolve around the screenplay of the proposed film. As the editor, you should have read the screenplay and be able to come up with various complimentary things to say about it. Bill says that you on to a pretty sure thing by saying that the third act needs a lot of work, because the third act always needs a lot of work.

The director will want to know how forceful you’ll be about any ideas you want to contribute. Some directors what editors who will challenge their conceptions of the film, others want a pair of hands who won’t volunteer any of their own ideas. It’s up to the individual editor to work out if they can be one or the other. The main point of the meeting is to see if you’ll be able to get on with each other over a period of many months working together.

When starting a job, Bill likes to read around the subject. Sometimes the books are quite tangential to the source of the screenplay story, but he never knows what elements will bubble up from his reading and influence his ideas when making editing choices about the film.

Bill says that editors “make a large contribution to the writing of films.”

The highlights will be posted at the new section of the Manhattan Edit Workshop website known as ‘The Vault’ – a place where you can access clips of many famous editors talking tradecraft at previous masterclasses.

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