9 PRO Editing Tips Every Student of Filmmaking Must Know

These post production tips will inspire you. Read editing insights from Janet Weinberg, ACE, Heidi Scharfe, ACE, and more…
Above photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters. Follow snapshot-factory.de.


9 PRO Editing Tips Every Student of Filmmaking Must Know


Tip #1

“Story is KEY. Let the script be your guide.”
~Janet Weinberg, ACE

Read more in “Episodic TV Editing Insights from Janet Weinberg, ACE.” After graduating from Tisch School of the Arts in Film, Janet Weinberg, ACE, has spent the last several decades as an editor of episodic TV. Her most recent credits include “Jane the Virgin”, “UnReal”, “Little America”, and “Better Things”, for which she won an Eddie in 2020.

Tip #2

“Shoot something and edit. You are all so lucky that you can do that. When I started, film was expensive and so was the hardware. Thanks to some healthy competition you can rent software for a low monthly fee. Avid, Premiere, Resolve… any of them. Hell, you can even use your phone and just get behind the wheel and edit. There are several books on the rules which I’m sure you read in school… But there’s nothing like just doing it.”
~Heidi Scharfe, ACE

Read more in “TV and Documentary Editing Insights from Heidi Scharfe, ACE.” Heidi Scharfe ACE began her editing career in low budget, feature films after completing her studies at California State University Northridge. After 5 years, she broke into television with the Showtime Pilot (and foreign feature) Red Shoe Diaries, garnering her first nomination. The next 6 years were spent editing the popular television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, where she began her creative partnership with Director James Keach…

Tip #3

“You need to watch a lot of movies and TV and try to deconstruct the decisions that were made and why something was cut the way it was. How and why are they cutting something as common as a dialogue scene. Why does a dialogue scene in this movie look different from a similar conversation in another story? Or why is one dialogue scene cut differently than another dialogue scene in the same film? Almost evry moment in a film is covered by multiple set-ups or camera angles, so why did thy chose the exact camera angle and ‘size’ of shot for a specific moment in the story? When do they use close-ups? When are they on a 2-shot?
~Steve Hullfish

Read more in “Film and TV Editing Insights by Steve Hullfish.” Steve Hullfish produces and edits trailers, TV spots, promos and DVDs through his company, Verascope Pictures, which serves high-end clients: Universal Studios, NBC Television, DreamWorks, HIT Entertainment, Jim Henson Entertainment, VeggieTales and others…

Tip #4

“Make sure you live your life, especially while you’re young. Study storytelling, art, music, dance, theater. Read. Sing. Paint. All forms of art are used in filmmaking. They all come together in the Editing Room.”
~Mike Sale, ACE

Tip #5

“Learn what an assistant editor does, so if an opportunity presents itself, you can jump right in.”
~Nancy Morrison, ACE

Tip #6

“Study the script. Make sure you know and fully understand the script. You must understand the story, the characters, and the intentions of every scene. As an editor you are rewriting the script with pictures and sound. Your knowledge of the script will inform every editing decision you make.”
~Sidney Wolinsky ACE

Tip #7

“Find the apex of a shot. Every shot has an apex. Every shot has the thing you need to tell the tale. If you’re cutting shots together of a motion, or of a person picking an object up, there is a point where that person is doing the most important part of that shot. Whether it’s grabbing the item, whether it’s the arm coming up – whatever it is – for your own purposes somewhere in that shot there is an apex. Identify the apex, and then start stretching out from there as far as keeping the shot running, cut the apexes together, and then start adding extra trim if needed for continuity, but only what is necessary for continuity. I find that particularly young editors will fall in love with a shot. And it will be up on screen far too long.
Whatever the factor is that you’re emotionally attached to in that shot, you’ve got to get over it and get on with it because none of the rest of us know the history behind getting that shot, nor do we care. It’s got to be about the storyline.”
~ Tim Kolb

Tip #8

“Watch all of your dailies. Cut the scenes based on your selects until you’re happy with them, then put them away for a day. Watch the scenes again fresh the next morning, and fine cut them then, before moving on to any new scenes.”
~Wendy Hallam Martin, ACE, CCE

Tip #9

“Watch and listen. Be open to what is real around you. Observe and listen to things that are unfiltered or pre-digested by global media. Be curious! Imagination leads to inspiration.”
~Pietro Scalia, ACE

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