Command+Edit Podcast

The post-production podcast that goes beyond the desk


Things Directors Wish Editors Would Do

Nick MontgomeryComment
Things Directors Wish Editors Would Do

In last week's episode Josh and I talked about Things Editors Wish Directors Would Do to make their lives easier. Now we're turning the tables and asking the opposite: What do directors secretly wish editors would do differently?

We asked a handful of different directors to get ideas on what we as editors can do to make them happier, because isn't that what it's all about: making the director happy...well, that's what we say out loud anyways.

So here are some thoughts pulled from the minds of directors, those people who employ you to work on their projects, so that you may possibly understand a bit more about what goes on in the minds of these creatures.

Knowing where everything is, being able to pull up shots, have a system that works.

I guess in my experience I wish editors would keep better notes. I can't remember how many times when I said "What about that other shot" or "What about that other take in this series" and they're like "Yeah, I thought that too" and you're like "Good, can you bring it up?". And they take like ten minutes finding something.

Because they didn't keep proper notes you waste all this time as they try to find it. Significant nuisance.

The more detailed notes they have during intake, transcoding, and synching, the smoother the edit goes.

- Mike Cameron (Weekenders Present: Quitter)

Don't be afraid.

Perhaps one thing that comes to mind in general when looking for an editor is make sure the editor knows the source material very well, from framing to pacing and to my be afraid to make ballsy editing choices"

Sometimes editors take too long on a scene and they chip away on it to much, to the point of not knowing they are over thinking it. They're not to blame, it's because they are stuck in a dark room for hours on end making choices, which in return will get changed.

- Gabriel Carrer (The Demolisher, In the House of Flies)

Be willing to collaborate with the director

The editor is part of my creative team, and in turn I want them to collaborate, contribute and be creative. In doing so, they must know the script, know the story, know the film. They should make an effort (as I would to them) to talk about the film before they start cutting, to understand the creative direction of the film, and to trust their creative spark in the endeavour. I don't just want an "assembly cut," so to speak. Be an artist.

- Lyndon Horsfall (Dead Air, Synchronicity)

Forget the words "That's not possible"

I think working together to find compromises and hearing suggestions from both sides makes almost anything possible.

[My editor and I have] talked about his original intention for a scene and how he envisioned it. The reality of a low budget indie is that you sometimes don't have the time to make a scene match the director's vision completely on the day it's shot. So in editing, we've worked together, found middle ground, and experimented to make what's "not possible" with the footage look like it's possible.

- Tonya Dodds Sinasac (Producer on Red Spring)

*Technically I'm cheating by including Tonya on this list because she works more as a producer than a director. And her go-to editor is Jeff Sinasac, AKA her husband. But she has lots of experience in both production and post-production. And did you read her answer? Insightful, ain't it?

So there you go. Straight from the directors' mouths themselves, those are some tips on what can sometimes be expected of you in an Editor-Director relationship.

Got a tip of your own that we missed? Tweet it to @CommandEdit.

Let us know what you think of this episode

Are You My Competition or a Collaborator?: Cmd+Edit 008

Nick MontgomeryComment
Episode 8 Command Edit Podcast featuring black fawn films wrap day on Bed of the Dead

Nowadays it seems like you can throw a stone and hit 5 editors. The industry has exploded over the past decade and in the struggle to get noticed and hired some have taken different approaches. Some treat other editors strictly as competition and work hard at improving their own skills and marketing themselves. Some treat other editors as collaborators, brothers-in-arms to team up with and support one another in their careers.

It may seem that taking the competitive approach is a negative one, but there are some advantages to it. As well, there are times when collaborating and building a team can help further everyone in attaining a booming career.

Somehow Nick manages to squeeze in Nash's Equilibrium theory and a strategy for getting laid into his explanation on how to decide whether to compete or collaborate.

Not everyone is looking for someone to collaborate with (or be a mentor to) and you can expect some to not react well to a proposition to work together for experience. Listen at the [30:28] mark for a story about an encounter Nick had with a gruff veteran photographer and the price he had on working together.


Nick's first feature edited for Black Fawn Films was recently released. The Drownsman (2013) was the first time Nick worked on the edit of a film while it was in production and it changed his career path forever. It's available on iTunes for $12.99 and on Amazon on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Josh has released a blog series titled "Over the Editor's Shoulder" chronicling a new series he is editing. It's split into 4 parts and you can see his daily progress and tips for editing faster.

Josh Short in his Over the Editors Shoulder blog series