Do you edit video and value your mental sanity?
Good, me too.
Check this out, because this is important.
Here at The Power Edit, we’re all about the parts of editing that go beyond the button pushing and all the software and techie stuff.
Everyone else talks about that, and that’s fine.
But here’s what so few people actually talk about:
The creative and mental side of editing, and how to tell great stories in a truly powerful way – in a way that’s relatable to the 99.8% of the world who don’t cut $300M studio blockbusters.
So along the mental side of things, here’s a not so well known fact:
Whether you edit for pay or for free, your mental well being as an editor is hugely affected not only by the gigs you take… but even more so by the gigs you DON’T take.
Like this one.
After a hugely appreciated month off editing, with my wife and I getting used to life with our newborn son, I started a new gig this week.
I’ll talk more about it some other time, but for now, I’m just cringing in horror at this picture that’s sitting atop a stack of boxes directly outside my edit bay.
I literally see it every time I leave my edit bay.
[Disclaimer: I have not seen or cut this show. I don’t know anyone attached to it, and it’s entirely possible that they are all creative, wonderful people, and that the show deserves a shelf full of Emmys. It could happen, right?]
So you have two scantily clad women in a knock down drag-out fight on the sidewalk. The larger of the two has her top blurred out, so she’s probably topless by virtue of the fight.
Another lady in the background has her face blurred out too, which means she didn’t agree to sign the appearance releases for the TV show.
The logo is all blinged out, speaking of flashy, in-your-face characters.
Not only is the content of the show obvious – drama everywhere with loud-mouthed folk coming to blows – but I can also tell you what it’s like to cut that kind of show.
In short: a MASSIVE pain in the butt.
You never know who you are or aren’t allowed to show in a scene, and you’re always judging whether it will work to blur out the people who are.
The field producers specifically goad the characters to get into fights. Characters usually do, but rarely do you have the coverage necessary to fill in the audience of the actual context of the fight.
But the people end up yelling and screaming, at least partly on camera, and the producers insist on having the incomplete scene in the show.
And the more inexperienced producers blame the editors for having scenes that don’t make sense.
Uh, well… You shoot only half an argument, you only get half the explanation for what’s happening on camera.
Yet the editor is still expected to turn incomplete fragments into complete TV shows.
For the sake of your sanity and mental well being, avoid these kind of shows.
Ask me how I know this.
QUICK SIDE NOTE: This blog post is taken from The Power Edit’s free daily emails that go out Monday through Friday.
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I sent the above description of the picture out to members on the Power Edit email list, and one of them wrote back:
Why not consider a show like that an opportunity to get creative with the editing and create whatever story you feel like offering? You may not meet your own standards, but on that kind of show you just have to broaden them.
Well, I’ll agree with the creativity angle – there are times when you have to pull out every little trick in your mental bag simply to make a scene work at all. Your reward for creating a context of a scene that never even existed: executive notes that say “That scene is ok, we just need more of it.”
Commence – or continue – banging head against wall.
Not only that, high conflict shows like the one in the above picture tend to be produced by high conflict individuals.
And no matter how creative or broad one’s standards may be, these kind of individuals are HUGELY more difficult to please than producers who are, ya know, NOT INSANE.
Seriously. They’re the kind of producers who camp out in your edit bay watching you push the buttons and wanting to control you even to the point of trying to follow you to the bathroom.
Yeah, that’s actually happened to me.
The solution: develop your creative and interpersonal editing skills so that the RIGHT people – the smart, experienced, sane ones – hire you over and over and over.
The easiest way to do that? Join the Power Edit daily email list if you haven’t already done it.
And in the meantime, remember: just like our editing often works the best by what we leave OUT of the cut, our mental sanity often lives or dies by what editing work we DON’T do.
Jeff Bartsch is the founder of The Power Edit and teaches and edits television in Los Angeles. His editing clients include ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, ESPN, MTV, and many others. His book Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing is available worldwide on Amazon, Audible, Kindle, and iTunes. His commentary has been featured in TIME Magazine, USA Today, and the Associated Press.