LFS: ‘Deep End’, Editing Q+A

I’m currently in London, visiting the bf. I got onto the mailing list for the London Film School before I left, on the off-chance that I could get along to a workshop or seminar or lecture while I’m here. Fortunately they’re running a series of Q+As, and I can make a couple of them.

The topic was Editing. It was a screening of ‘Deep End‘ (1970, dir. Jerzy Skolimowski). The editor, Barrie Vince, was on hand afterwards for the Q+A.

I probably wouldn’t have seen the film otherwise. It was good: the story of a boy discovering his sexuality at his first job. It was shot on 35mm, a mix of tripod and hand-held (so one of the earliest films with handheld 35mm).

Vince talked about the editor being the first audience, and making choices not to be clever or show-off, but what the audience wants to see. Choosing the most appropriate shot for the story, the most logical shot for the drama. Making it clear who is in the scene, what they’re doing.

He had found that when there is a cut, it takes 1/12th to 1/8th of a second for the audience to catch up. He pointed out that editing nowadays is more mosaic editing: quick cuts all over the show. Because of the catch-up time, it’s like strobe lighting, and makes the film hard to follow. Spielberg had said (paraphrasing) that editing used to be about Geography, and now it is about showing off the editing. Vince suggested it used to be about Dramatic Space, and now is “pissing about”.

Vince compared editing to music. It’s the phrasing, the end of the phrase where the player breathes is the cut. It’s about the pulse, the energy of the shot. And the cadence at the end of the scene.

He also pointed out that most people now, because they have the software, say that they’re editors. But they’re not. It takes a special skill to edit well. I think that’s a very fair comment.

And I loved the quote that “Every drama has to have an accident that is inevitable”. Think about it. It’s true.

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One thought on “LFS: ‘Deep End’, Editing Q+A”

  1. I liked this quote – “the editor being the first audience, and making choices not to be clever or show-off, but what the audience wants to see”

    Good work dude, talk about making the best usage of being in a big city

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