Top Ten Film and Video Editing Tips

Post-production insights from Pietro Scalia, ACE, Wendy Hallam Martin, ACE, CCE, Mike Sale, ACE, Sidney Wolinsky ACE, Janet Weinberg, ACE, Heidi Scharfe, ACE, Deborah Moran, ACE, Nancy Morrison, ACE, Tim Kolb, and Steve Hullfish…
Pictured above: Editing in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Avel Chuklanov, Filmmaker, Vancouver, WA. Follow @chuklanov |


10 Best Film and Video Editing Advice


“Most importantly, have a clear point-of-view.”
~Pietro Scalia, ACE

“Trust your intuition (gut).”
~Wendy Hallam Martin, ACE, CCE

“Learn how to collaborate. Most filmmaking is not a solo endeavor. The best films I have ever worked on required creative input from a group of talented people.”
~Mike Sale, ACE

“Do not get wrapped up in technique. Everything should be in service to the story. Think of how your edit choices affect the audience’s perception of the story and the characters in the story. Pace and edit speed need to be in service to the story. Which person you’re “on” in a conversation needs to be in service to the story. Should you be on the speaker or the listener? That depends on what that decision has to say about the story and the perception of the characters. How quickly you cut to the answer to a question or to the response to a statement says a lot about the characters and the story. Is the response hesitant because they’re contemplative or worried about saying the wrong thing? Is it abrupt and impatient? Or is it fast because the character is super-smart? Do you leave in “shoe-leather” (walking or driving from one place to another) because you need to give the audience time to think or feel or anticipate? Or do you cut it out to move the story along faster?”
~Steve Hullfish

“Notes. Make sure you understand the intention of the notes you get. During the editing process – director’s cut, producer’s cut, network or studio cut – a lot of people will be asking you to make changes. Their notes will range from very specific – trim that shot – to very broad – pace up that scene. Before you start, be sure you fully understand the intention of the note. Sometimes a note may have been given to solve a problem the note-giver perceives but the solution may involve more than the specific note.”
~Sidney Wolinsky ACE

“When making your editors cut, follow your gut. Don’t belabor it – if it’s working for you and for story and performance, move on.”
~Janet Weinberg, ACE

“You need to learn about color correction, and it’s not a brightness/contrast, hue saturation kind of a thing. You’re going to start with levels and understanding gamma and move on from there. More editors are becoming responsible for at least some amount of color correction. That’s probably the most important skill an editor can add to his or her skill set. Learn as much as you can and keep learning about it because it’s a nearly endless topic that is much deeper than most people would ever guess.”
~ Tim Kolb

“Be ambidextrous. Know more than one editing system. I don’t always get a say on what system I’m using, and often I’m not the first editor on, and the decision has been made for me.”
~Heidi Scharfe, ACE

“Willingness to collaborate is very important. Even if you disagree or don’t share the same tastes with whom you’re working, I believe there is always something to learn when you truly collaborate.”
~Deborah Moran, ACE

“Meet as many working editors and assistant editors as you can and make connections.”
~Nancy Morrison, ACE