Film Editing: The Invisible Art

6:00 AM PST 11/29/2011 by Carolyn Giardina
Baldur Bragason/Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.

The editor, whose work goes unnoticed when done well, employs story-telling, performance, shot selection, structure, rhythm, pace and length. Three veterans share their approach to recent projects.

The editor, whose work goes unnoticed when done well, employs story-telling, performance, shot selection, structure, rhythm, pace and length. Three veterans share their approach to recent projects.

► The Tree of Life
Mark Yoshikawa, Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, editors

Terrence Malick's impressionistic study of one family's place in the universe called for an unorthodox structure.

"There was a beautiful, well-written script, but it was shot in a very experimental style," says Yoshikawa. "Once all the images came in, we reconstructed the feeling of what the script was. The feeling was in the script, but not the plot-ordered scenes. That was manufactured in the editing."

J. Edgar
Joel Cox and Gary Roach, editors

Director Clint Eastwood needed his team to present FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's life in a nonlinear fashion.

"You see J. Edgar going back to 1972, then 1919, then '72, then the '20s," says Cox. "There's a thread of narration. J. Edgar is telling his life story to writers. Our job was to bring this together and make all these transitions work so you understand the story, where you were, in what time frame of his life. It's complex because he was involved in so many things."

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, editors

In cutting David Fincher's adaptation of the popular thriller, the editors were challenged with keeping together the various plot lines.

"At its core, it's really about an investigation," says Wall. "The challenge was keeping the story on point but also adding in these dead ends. … The first part of the movie is introducing [lead characters Blomkvist and Salander]; they don't meet immediately. The first part is cross-cutting their individual stories."

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