Rhetorical Answer

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A response to the question never asked

The Art of Edited

My Art of Editing instructor commented this week that we are now halfway through the semester and asked if anyone has any questions or comments about that fact. I do. I want to know when we are going to start discussing the Art of Editing. Because so far we’ve watched a hodge podge of sometimes grainy, sometimes inadvertently silent, sometimes disappointingly muddled movie clips accompanied by only the most blindingly obvious observations, and it’s starting to grate on me.

I think the trouble stems from the fact that we’re trying to analyze the creative process of editing based on the finished product. It seems to me that’s like trying to analyze the process of novel writing based on the finished book. Sure, if you have an instinct for what works and what doesn’t, that may be all you need, but I wouldn’t sign up for a writing class where I sit and read individual chapters of novels and hope to be struck by insight. That seems like A Waste of Money™. We had one good class where we saw the dailies from Gunsmoke and three alternative edits, discussed the choices the different editors made, and commented on the effectiveness of those choices. We focused on the decision-making process, technical and aesthetic considerations, and storytelling. This, to me, is the art of editing! So why don’t we do that every week?

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Filed under: Education, Film, New York

One Response

  1. 987s says:

    This fits in nicely with a general comment I have about the US university system versus the UK system. In the US it seems it is all about choice. There are a few core subjects that you have to take, but after that you have a lot of freedom as to what to take. But that freedom comes at the risk of picking bad classes, and from my experience it is hard to avoid one mediocre class every term, no matter how hard you study the prior year class evaluations.

    In the UK it was completely different. The entire degree was effectively treated as one class: In my first two years I had precisely zeros choices, and in the final two years you choose five from eight Aeronautics courses. This lack of choice has two key advantages. Firstly you never feel that you made a bad choice or are wasting your money as everything is compulsory. More importantly though is that there are no overlaps between classes. The entire degree program is designed as one, and the flow is very good. There are no concerns with pre-reqs are a class teaching something you’ve already done.

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