Behind the Scenes – Episode 5 – My editing philosophy


It’s been a long time since I edited my very first film. It was a home movie that I made for my friends’ High School French project. I’ve come a long way, and it brings me great pleasure to know that you’ll never see it all that. My name is Mandel Lum and you’re watching Behind The Scenes, a weekly internet series that brings you backstage to show you how I make my films.

My gateway to filmmaking was always editing. I love editing and I love thinking about editing and philosophizing on it. For me, filmmaking and editing lies in that weird place between hobby and work and recreation. It just kinda worked out for me that way even from the beginning.

I just really enjoyed experimenting with this tool…iMovie. At that time it didn’t even have a number after it, it was just called iMovie. It had one video track and two audio tracks, a handful of cheap looking transitions, and I didn’t have a single clue as how to use it. But in the end I taught myself all the basics on an Non Linear Editor in high school. And at the time I was also really into playing music and listening to electronica, so I started to develop a certain kind of style, one that was really musical and rhythmic. And that’s influenced how I perceive editing.

Editing in a nutshell
To me, in a really figurative sense, editing is a lot like teaching a video how to dance. Every video has a rhythm and it’s an editor’s creative responsibility to let it come out while telling the main story. For instance, action films have a certain rhythm that’s like a roller coaster, it speeds up when the action gets going and it slows down to create suspense. Well-edited comedies have an editing rhythm that keeps you laughing and lets you take a moment to breathe before you’re laughing again.

Of course, there’s more to it, like pacing, eye-trace, all of the creative stuff you can do while editing a story. And all the techniques and processes and technical speak too. But I feel it’s important to know it’s not just “editing out the bad parts” – it’s editing together all the great ones and making them dance with each other.

I recommend a fascinating book by Walter Murch (the editing genius behind Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now), In the Blink of an Eye. It’s a quick and informative philosophical read for anyone interested in the world of editing.

Thanks for watching Behind the Scenes. If you’ve got any questions you’d like me to answer, put them in the comments and I’ll answer it in a video. And that’s it! Thanks for joining us on our fifth episode of our series premiere week. Check back in Tuesdays for new episodes. You can subscribe right here.

So until next time, stay inspired.

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