Transcript of 'Video 8c – Working with directors with Grace Eyre – editor '


I'm Grace Eyre, I'm a screen editor. I cut narrative, documentary and TV commercials.

A director basically guides the entire ship creatively all the way from pre-production to post-production and mastering. So as an editor, your job is to understand what their vision is and try to work with them and facilitate their vision as best as you can.

So, you are meant to have opinions, you are meant to weigh in on things. You're not just a software operator, you're not just a button pusher, but it is a conversation and it's about helping them reach the vision that they're trying to reach.

And that's about being a sounding board as well. Sometimes it means that saying what you think that they're trying to achieve is maybe not being achieved in the choice that they've made.

A good director will be really open to you giving an opinion about something and whether it works or whether it doesn't because they understand as well that filmmaking is a collaborative process and it's really hard to capture a mood that is going to appeal to a broad audience if you're just one person with one set of eyes and one set of subjective experiences on a particular film.

So, it's that relationship between the editor and director is really important and the director's job is to ultimately make the final decisions about the edit and about the choices that have been made. Having said that, as an editor, you make a thousand small choices that the director almost never sees or notices.

So, you actually do have a lot of input into the film. It's only really the bigger choices that start to get talked about. And in that case, it's about understanding what the director wants to achieve and trying to bring that to life as much as possible. There's a particular process that I like to follow when I work with a director during an edit.

I like to make sure that I have a day or two at least depending on how much footage there is to go through where I'm just alone selecting my material and going through it and forming my own opinion about it.

Because I often say, if I haven't seen the material before and if I haven't had a chance to digest it, then I'm no good to you because I don't have an opinion on it yet.

So, it needs to be something where you can find where you stand on the material and what you think is going to work best, and that's how you can actually help the director best.

But it's important to have a little bit of space at the beginning where you're on your own for that. And then once the director comes in, it becomes a matter of having a conversation with them about what they want to achieve and then just continuing that conversation through every decision.

There are a lot of smaller decisions that you can make without discussing it with them. It doesn't have to always be a conversation, but when you show them something, they will often pick up on things that you either didn't mind or didn't pick up on yourself. And that's actually an important part of the process.

In the case of 'The Tailings', one of the stickiest, most difficult parts to cut were the opening scenes of the entire series. Obviously, there was a lot of weight riding on those opening scenes because people watch something in the first five minutes and decide whether they're going to watch the rest of it.

So those opening scenes were really important, but they weren't quite working for us. And me and Stevie, the director, would work on it, not feel particularly satisfied, and then move on to the rest always saying, we were going to come back to it, come back to it and see what we can do about it.

So, I thought it was really important to give ourselves a day or two away from the production schedule, away from the deadlines and other producers to just watch the entire series fresh, sort of feel free to make broader changes to it and look at the opening scene again.

Each director is different and each one of them will have a different level of how involved they want to be. Sometimes they can watch a piece, give a few notes, and then go away for a day or two.

And they're happy to let you work on your own. Some of them want to be more involved from the start and they want to be really involved with every decision that they make or that you make. And that's okay too.

And the important thing is that if you develop a relationship with a director over time, you'll start to understand the kind of person they are and how they work, and what their vision is and what their taste is.

So, you can actually deliver on that a lot better once you get to know somebody. So that relationship is really important. And I try to make sure that I get to know who they are as a person outside of that piece of work because more work will come in, but they're going to stay the same. So, it actually makes a big difference knowing what they generally like as a director.

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Last updated: 18 November 2022