Transcript of 'Video 8d – Advice for students with Grace Eyre – editor '


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

For a student editor starting out, my biggest piece of advice would be don't be afraid to be imperfect, don't be afraid to show your work early. And in fact, it can be a little bit counterproductive to try to make everything perfect before you show somebody because it's so much a collaborative process.

You need to start feeling comfortable with showing works in progress. That's just how the job works.

My other piece of advice for a student editor is to try different things. Don't just cut something one way and leave it at that. Always be asking yourself, "Is there a way I can do this better? Or is there a way I can just do this differently? Or is there a way I can cut the scene with a slightly different mood attached to it or a slightly different effect attached to it?"

Because you might surprise yourself.

You might find that the way that your second choice for how something is cut, once you watch it, you might actually like it a lot better. So, don't just do one thing and stick to that. Be open to experimentation and be open to going a little bit left of field, or to surprising yourself with some of the choices that are possible in the edit.

When I was starting out as a more junior editor, one thing I would often do that I had to unlearn and sort of improve from is I would really fall in love with a particular shot or a particular moment, and then I would spend hours trying to make that moment work in the scene.

And in doing so, I would often make the scene weaker as a result. So, for me, the biggest piece of advice I can give from the perspective of an editing technique, or a tip or a trick, is even if you've really fallen in love with a particular shot, say you love how an actor delivered a line, maybe that line doesn't actually fit with the emotional trajectory of the scene overall.

And sometimes you need to be willing to give it the X if it's not working on the whole.

The thing is editing is not just a series of individual moments, it's actually a holistic work. It's relative to the other takes, and it's all about the flow. It's all about the overall piece.

So, when a particular take, or a particular moment, or a particular sequence is really good on its own, but it actually stuffs up the whole rest of the scene, you need to be comfortable getting rid of it.

And that will actually save you a lot of time and a lot of heartache down the line. As a junior editor or somebody starting out, it's really important to get good at putting distance between yourself and the film that you're cutting, because if you watch something over and over again, you can actually start to see it less.

So, sometimes it's a good idea just to get away from the desk for a little bit, take a walk, go have a chat to somebody who's not working on the same thing and just clear your mind a moment. And that'll actually help you come back to the edit and see it fresh and see it with new eyes.

It can be extremely useful to show your edit to other people who aren't involved with the project at all. Those are the people who often can bring the freshest perspective to it.

Make sure that you get somebody that you trust, maybe a mentor or maybe another editor or a peer of yours, or even somebody who doesn't have anything to do with the film industry at all.

Go show it to your partner or your best friend, because they're the people who are actually going to be watching it at the very end. And their perspective is important. As long as you trust their taste a little bit, and as long as they understand that it's a rough cut and that they don't need to critique the finer elements, just get the general vibe of things, outside eyes can actually be extremely useful in making sure that your edit is hitting all the right notes.

If you find that you really enjoy editing and you want to do it long term, that's definitely a possibility. There's actually a lot of work in editing across a range of areas.

So, advertising, film, documentary, news. All of those areas have editors in them. So, the important thing is that if you like it, stick with it.

And don't be afraid to just knock on a few doors and try to get say, an apprenticeship or an internship. You'd be surprised how open people are to having a student or an intern in their office if you just ask.

And if you show yourself to be a proactive person who's really interested in learning, definitely give that a shot because the possibilities are out there and it's really just a matter of being proactive and chasing them down.

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Last updated: 18 November 2022