The Delicate Art of Editing

Blog 17

Editing is considered to be the only aspect of filmmaking unique to the medium.  Everything else, it can be argued, is found in another art form, be it theatre, literature, painting, sculpting, music, etc.   The manipulation of time and space through the synergy of image and sound is where film yields its true power. The students are making their cuts and in many ways only now does it feel like the filmmaking experience has truly begun.


I would virtue to guess there has never been a film where the editor hasn’t wished for just one better take, one alternative angle or a bit cleaner sound.  We tend to want all of these things (and then some) on a scene-by-scene basis, but when you throw people out in the field for one day with bare bones equipment and next to no experience, you can expect nothing less.  Shooting in Africa with limited power and unlimited spectators obviously didn’t help. But excuses aside, this week each of the five teams have one day to edit their film. Provided the context, similar to film challenges all over the world with set parameters, timelines and creative limitations, we’re soldiering on quite well.  Sometimes our editing options are too little, too late, but our motto is too bad. The festival premiere is less than two weeks away, July 20, and we’re still the short on a product, audience and means to put it all together. If there was time I’d probably reach over and hit the panic button, buried somewhere under the cables and keyboards of our temporary editing studio.


Our friend Papy has lent us the main office and computer at his workplace to use all week.  He joked today that it’s good business for him to have mzungus (well-off looking, usually white people) hanging around creating a buzz.  Everyone is sure he has something pretty important cooking up, and in truth we’re actually hoping to live up to the hype. In the short term, however, I will just be happy when the scene being edited behind me is completed and they can finally decide which high pitched squeal to use.  The tedious task of editing is already starting to take its toll on me, and is unfortunately nowhere near the visual feast for Bridget to document or richness in experience for me to chronicle. Stay tuned however, I just got off the phone with a sick Raymond who tells me he’s contracted malaria.  There’s a plot point we’d have much rather cut out.

Christopher Redmond