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On Editing vs Writing

It’s sort of strange to be out here actively pursuing two different careers — writing and editing.  Writing is in some ways a much more natural outlet of mine, I don’t know that I could stop writing if someone told me I had to.  But, editing is a craft that I’ve been well trained in and is easy to market as a skill.  And I think the two seemingly different focuses are actually very similar.

You write the script, the director paints the film, and then the editor does a final polish.  In the editing room, I’ve created stories whole, rewritten things that didn’t work, and done things as simple as putting the shots in the order they’re supposed to go.  I can see how some people would find editing tedious, but massaging cuts is very rewarding to some OCD part of my brain.  Making comedic timing perfect or letting someone linger just long enough on a difficult moment.  The things you can do to cheat a shot are never ending.  Warp the time to fit words in someone’s mouth, speed things up when a take is too long, splice two shots together.  Cheating is fun.

I’m going to most likely be cutting a reel for an actress in the next couple weeks.  I find this exciting for lots of reasons. I love seeing actors ranges.  I worked as Casting Director for the Thesis Films and held casting in Tallahassee, NY and LA.  I loved seeing actors audition and give different renditions of the same words.  I also got thousands and thousands (not exaggerating) of submissions, many of whom sent in reels.  I watched a couple reels and almost inevitably the reels made me not nearly as enthusiastic as the headshot.  But occasionally, just occasionally, something in a reel really spoke to me.  I’m hoping to have the chance to do that for someone.

Of course, the difference between writing and editing is, when you edit, no matter how much you cheat, you can’t change what’s in the footage.

Comments

  1. says

    What an interesting post. I’m writing a novel, and most of the bloggers I’ve met are doing similar things as I am. I’m glad to have stumbled across your blog, since it sounds like you’re doing something a bit different than that (working with images, rather than words on the page). Editing sounds fascinating, like you said, the ability to create stories out of what’s in the footage, ‘massaging cuts’ into something polished and refined.

    What does it mean to ‘cut a reel’ for someone? I get the general picture, since you contrasted them with headshots, but I’m curious to know what that means.

  2. ashleyfmiller says

    Thank you, I’m glad you found your way here :)

    I do write as well, though it is mostly for the screen. I have one novel written for NaNoWriMo, which I am hoping to turn into a screenplay because it’s… well, it’s not the best novel.

    Cutting a reel is pretty simple. Basically, an actor brings in the footage that they have of themselves acting, be it from features, TV, or commercials. Even student shorts and auditions can be used. Then, the editor and the actor go through and pick the best acting moments and put them together in a short 4-7 minute program showcasing the actor’s range and talents.

    So, not too complicated, thought they can be really difficult because Casting Directors usually just watch the first 30 seconds unless you really grab them. For a Casting Director they’re pretty much used to tell what the actor looks and sounds like on film. And secondly to see if they’re dreadful or have a history doing roles like the one you’re looking for. They don’t replace an audition, but they can get you one. Or, just as likely, lose you one.

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