Friday, January 24, 2014

When the editor is the star - Creative Excellence Fridays

Watching the Oscars we tend to focus on the stars, the director, and maybe, if we're lucky, the writer. But if you talk to a knowledgeable director, he'll often tell you the real star is the editor.  Ask Martin Scorsese why he's gone to Thelma Schoonmaker for the majority of his films dating back as far as 1970 with Streetscenes.

And why has Woody Allen used Alisa Lepselter exclusively dating back to 1999 with Sweet and Lowdown?

It's like a marriage.  When it works it works.  And great editor needs to be able to see the director's vision but also offer suggestions that take it to a new realm.  It's still the director's movie.  But the editor takes the movie over the endzone for the final spike.  And the director is still the hero because he/she hired the editor in the first place.   It seems like a thankless job.

Here are some notable works of movie editing magic, as chosen by Tim Dirks of Filmsite.org
  • the film-within-a-film dream sequence of Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
  • the chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959)
  • the crop-dusting chase sequence in North by Northwest (1959)
  • the shower scene in Psycho (1960)
  • the phone booth bird attack scene in The Birds (1963)
  • the "ballet of blood" ambush in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • the subway chase scene in The French Connection (1971)
  • the Rocky dawn workout sequence in Rocky (1976)
  • the Death Star battle scene in Star Wars (1977)
  • the rolling boulder sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The point of the blog this week is to turn your attention from the big screen to the little screen.  One of my favourite commercials right now is the snowmen gone bad commercial from TBWA for the Nissan Rogue.  It's an editing wonder.  Here is the longer cinema version.  Winter Warrior.  50 edits in this version.





The version that's getting all the exposure is the much condensed 30.   It takes the 50 cut version and slims it down to exactly 20 cuts.  Admittedly this longer version is much more enjoyable.  But full credit to the editors at TBWA's post shop for cutting a very ambitious, Michael Bayish spot down successfully to 30 seconds.

Film editors unite.  In so many ways, you're truly the star.


With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer/voice performer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.

Ontrackblog is a division of OntrackCommunications Inc.

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