Is it art or not? The answer is yes.

The Power EditAs editors, are we artists? Some say yes, others say no. Others say it depends on the project. Some years ago I was wading through an editing forum and found the below thoughts from a user named guanacaa58:

I think editing is directly analogous to writing. Here’s a couple of lines of writing that I consider art:

“When my love swears to me that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies.
That she might think me some untutored youth
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties”
-William Shakespeare

Here’s some writing I don’t consider art: Continue reading

How to kill editorial brain drain, part 1 of 2

Brain!!Thousands of choices every day. That’s our life as an editor. Constantly, constantly choosing between This and That. Weighing options of What I Want… versus What I Actually Have… What They Want, versus What I Think They Want… What I Think Is Possible versus What Is Actually Possible. Take all those, jumble them around in varying orders and balances, and you have editing.

All those choices take a toll on the editor. If you approach a typical day of editing with even a moderate amount of focus and concentration, you will end up tired.

This isn't me. But that's what I did. Great big stacks of bales on the trailer and later up in the hay loft of the barn.
That isn’t me, but that’s what I did. Great big stacks of bales on the trailer and later up in the hay loft of the barn.

Focused, applied mental work is every bit as tiring as manual physical labor, in some ways even more so. And in case you’re wondering whether I’ve ever done anything other than sit on my butt for a living, the answer is yes – I helped local farmers bale and stack hay when I was in high school, and I spent my first two years in college working at a lumber yard packing semi trucks by hand in 100 degree summers with 80% humidity. I get the physical labor thing.

These days, though… at the end of a day of editing, I’m mentally drained. I’m ready to go home and begin the process of refreshing my mind and my energy for the next day’s edit. Oh, and have a life outside the edit bay too. Talk with my wife, have dinner, walk the dog.

Sadly, I don’t have a solution to eliminating editorial brain drain. It’s pretty much an occupational hazard. Having said that, here are three ideas to help minimize it and keep your creativity flowing throughout your entire edit. Continue reading

State of the huh??

You need to hear some things I’ve been hearing this week. I’ve been hanging with some crazy people. Authors, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, movie moguls, you name it.peter guber
One of them, a gentleman by the name of Peter Guber, said something especially worth passing on. Now Peter Guber isn’t some random shmuck – he’s the former CEO and Chairman of Sony Pictures. He’s the current CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group and  Dick Clark Productions. Also the co-owner of the LA Dodgers. And that’s just part of his background and what he’s into now.

Here’s what he said: “When it comes to relating to audiences, it’s not about state of the art technology, it’s state of the HEART technology.”

He also said that we are not in the fill-in-the-blank business, whatever you happen to be doing. “We are in the emotional transportation business.”

At the time, he was talking about business in general. But this is coming from a genuine Hollywood movie mogul, and it applies most directly to those of us who put our hands to the shaping of stories through sound, music, and moving pictures.

How easy is it to get caught up in all the crap of planning, shooting, and editing that we forget our primary directive?

Whether they know it or not, our audience is waving their arms at us, saying “Make me FEEL something,” exactly what we’ve been discussing in our Academy sessions here in LA. The audience wants an emotional experience from what we offer them. Not just a random “eh, that was sort of cool” or “I wonder if we have any beer left in the fridge” sort of experience. Continue reading

Editorial cookery: Artist vs Craftsman

Professional chefs have more in common with editors than you might think.

chef looking in panMy wife was recently listening to the audiobook version of New York Times best-selling author Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential. It’s a fascinating and entertaining look into the world of chefs and high-end kitchens.

One of Bourdain’s diatribes raged against line cooks and junior chefs who graduate culinary school and try to be artists when it comes to the daily delivering of the dishes the chef has created. They constantly prepare menu items differently, when the chef knows that the customers who order those plates quite likely have ordered them before; the chef also knows that diners expect that “one amazing dish” they ordered a year ago to be exactly the same when they order it tonight.

The chef needs a Craftsman who can deliver flawless execution of the chef’s vision over and over, and the rogue sous chef or line cook who switches things up by playing Artist will most likely end up fired.

That idea fits right into the world of editing. We as editors need to be aware of the times when an editorial “recipe” has already been established that we need to maintain. We also need to know when to step outside of the “recipe” and make an offer of Art.

So how do we know when to do one and not the other? Sometimes it’s obvious; the client, director, or producer specifically tells us that they want something like X Project or to feel like such-and-such a vibe. Or they may say, “Here’s the project, do your thing however you see fit, then we’ll talk.” Continue reading

Beware the Frankenbite

frankensteinOne week closer to Halloween; time to discuss another character in our lineup of editorial monsters and ghouls.

Unlike Dracula the Multitasker, whose mere presence guarantees horrific outcomes, today’s editorial monster is not as black and white in its effect.

Let us cautiously consider… the Frankenbite.

If you’re not familiar with the word, it’s a combination of “soundbite” and “Frankenstein,” the novel written in 1818 by Mary Shelley about a mad scientist who stitched together a monster from pieces of various human corpses. A description that some would consider accurate when applied to Reality TV in general. But we digress.

Frankenbites come into being when, for whatever reason, content creators make a mashup of soundbites that never existed together in their original form. Sometimes in order to make a character say what the producers want to hear, editors and story producers will grab a phrase here, a word there, and cobble together a brand new thought.

Sleazy? Well… that would depend on the greater context of things. Continue reading

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