Defending your choices – or not

A week ago today, I was in Crazy Man Mode. My team and I put on a three-hour live webcast, opening up a private meeting of our Los Angeles-based Power Edit Academy coaching group to the public. We screened Academy member edits and interacted with Power Edit friends from all around the world.

It was pretty sweet, and folks watching the livecast asked some really great questions. Here’s one of them taken from the event transcripts:


How do you argue for a music cue you really think works? It can be so subjective. Sometimes producers want almost everything changed.

Answer from Jeff

You’re absolutely right. A lot of the times it comes down to “It’s their project not ours.” And a lot of the time we as editors say, “This is what I offer out of my experience and out of my gut, and if it meshes with the people who are making the decisions, fantastic. If it’s not, it’s not my piece. It’s not ultimately my responsibility.”

Now it IS my responsibility to do everything within my power to make sure that the piece is as good as humanly possible. That’s just the kind of person I am, speaking for myself. And I believe I’m speaking for you guys too because you wouldn’t be here otherwise – the Power Edit Academy doesn’t bring slackers into the house. It just doesn’t happen.

Jeff BartschGoing back to the idea of arguing for a cue that you really like – sometimes that goes back to defending your editorial choice as to “Okay, why do I feel that this works? How does it underscore the feeling of what we’re doing?”

But most of the time the more experienced the producers you have the more they’ll get it. If you make a strong musical offer and it fits with what they’re looking for, they’re like, “Great. Totally get it.” The less experienced they are the more they’re going to yank you around, and that’s just a fact of life.

And actually, come to think of it, Bryan’s question about dealing with politics in the edit bay actually can really be addressed often by who is in charge, what do they want.

Jeff Bartsch at Academy livecastIt’s our job as editors to give it to them. I’m not saying roll over and play dead or be a doormat with no opinion, but I will say this: it is our job to invest ourselves in the project 110% and be willing to relinquish at a moment’s notice. So sometimes that sucks, but often it’s our role. It’s what we do.

And that’s why it’s so great working with people who do get us or we do understand what they want – because then we can give to them. And they say, “Yes! That’s exactly what I was looking for!” and everyone goes home happy.

That is my wish for all of you.

Actually making that happen, though, is easier said than done. For a roadmap on how to get there, check this out.

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