Four Lies of the Editing Matrix

matrix power edit hallMy wife and I don’t watch many movies. I don’t watch TV either. Heck, I spend my whole day making the stuff, and the last thing I want to do is come home and turn the damn thing on.

However, on New Year’s Day, we did watch a movie. A groundbreaking, jaw-dropping, thoroughly enjoyable movie that I saw again after watching it in a movie theater for the first time 15 years ago. The dystopian science fiction thriller that showed the good guys whooping up on the bad guys while running sideways on the wall, dodging bullets like a prize fighter slipping under a ham-fisted right hook.

Much has been said about The Matrix which I won’t attempt repeating here. It has so many reasons to love it, not the least of which is the idea of reality being much more malleable than we might realize – and far different than what it seems.

Editing is exactly the same. Fluid, constantly changing, and riddled with misconceptions and lies to be avoided and bent towards the truth. Here are some of them:

LIE #1: Only the elite few are worthy of editing high-quality content.

This was true… LAST CENTURY. The tools of content creation and editing are now available to literally anyone anywhere who seeks them.

LIE #2: You have to be innately talented to edit well. It’s a gift that can’t be taught.

Wrong. Some sort of talent – overrated as it tends to be – is always helpful in any pursuit, but those who say powerful editing can’t be taught merely say so because they don’t know how to teach.

LIE #3: If you can cut scripted content, you can cut anything, especially that unscripted garbage.

WRONG. Scripted editing and unscripted editing are related but very different animals which require distinctly different skill sets. Being excellent at one does not in any way guarantee excellence at the other. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, deep in the trenches of Hollywood.

Here’s the kicker – one style is glorified and taught in film schools while the other barely gets the time of day from anyone. (Here’s a notable exception.)

I could go on and on, but here’s one more Lie of the Editing Matrix that drives me absolutely nuts:

LIE #4: Editing projects with big budgets, big actors, and big studios are innately better than your poor little no-budget personal project.

What. Utter. Horseshit.

Having spent the early part of my career all starry-eyed at the prospect of doing bigger projects because I thought at the time that “bigger is always better,” I have been both places. I’ve cut on hit shows seen around the world by millions, and also on tiny projects seen in one room by only one other person. (Like the video where I asked my wife to marry me. That was a pretty important one.) I assure you, the value of what you say in your communication is rarely dictated by the size of budget, star, studio, or any of that.

If some smug auteur or self-appointed cynic dares to roll their eyes, snicker sarcastically, or otherwise look down on you for daring to make an offer to the world through your editing, I want you go to Neo on their ass. Smack them up one side and down another while doing a reverse backflip and blowing up the joint with a rack of submachine guns.

Okay, don’t do that. (Though those scenes in The Matrix were RIDICULOUS.)

But know this:

You have valuable things to say.

The tools are available right now for you to say it.

The secrets for saying things in a powerful way can be learned.

If you agree with that, you should join us here.

And in the meantime, here’s to ignoring the cynics, blowing past your expectations, and making this year the best one yet.

Onward, friend.

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