Notes From The Editing Cave: The Seth Evans Edition

Welcome blog readers, filmmakers, and the occasional lumberjacks that frequent this site. This is Notes from the Editing Cave, a new series that we will be featuring here. The idea is to have different editors answering the same 10 questions about editing. I think having many different perspectives on the, often unheralded, but oh-so-important task of editing will be informative, entertaining, and hopefully will open up a productive or I guess perhaps a (post)productive dialog.

Seth “Big Money” Evans


Twitter: @sethevans

“Check out -you can watch trailers for upcoming movies there. Great website. Everyone should check it out at least once. It’s part of the company that makes those macintosh computers.” Seth Evans on Movies

I have been editing since the day I figured out how to connect 2 VCRs together, many moons ago now. I primarily edit on FCP7 right now, but have been slowly dipping my toes into the pools of the Adobe suite and the waters there are quite nice. I originally jumped into FCP because it was the natural progression from iMovie on my old macbook of yesteryear. After cutting an entire documentary on iMovie 2ish, I moved up to Final Cut and that first date was so amazing I never had a reason to break up, until recently… That being said, I am not a FCPX naysayer, I have yet to digest it myself, until then my stomach is still dining on classic NLE designs and I hold my thoughts on the taste and satisfaction of FCPX.

What personality traits or characteristics do you think it takes to be a successful editor?

Patience, knowledge of all aspects of filmmaking, stickler of details, patient, in love with the tedium, emotional, patient, near obsessive, able to set aside/meld your vision for the directors, a love of learning with no fear of change or growth, and zero fear of caves.

In your mind what is the biggest mistake most editors make?

Pacing. Which is one of the hardest aspects of editing, I feel. After you have slaved over every frame it is very easy to lose sight of the emotion in a scene.

What’s your biggest pet peeve when editing?

Organizing. Unless you’re well off enough to have an assistant take care of that dreadful task. That and not having enough footage for the task at hand.

What do you most enjoy about editing?

Part of my pet peeve is one of my most enjoyable parts of editing. Getting into an edit and not having enough coverage, or solid take for an important moment in a scene. This is the point in which, as an editor, you really get to stretch not only your creative mind, but the skills you have amassed over the years. Some of the most memorable movie/editing moments in history were created out of this wonderful, stressful, creative, problem. The free reign to really think outside of the box can wield some very rewarding editing moments.

Any advice for someone just getting started in editing?

Don’t be afraid to cut, and by all means keep everyone and everything alive at all times as needed. Never over look the heads and tails of takes, as well as outtakes, sometimes a sliver in time that will accent a piece of dialogue or carry a scene over lies in wait in the fodder of outtakes. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice. You may have some beautiful shot with the dew of early morning frost glistening a perfect lens flare across the most steady dolly slide known to man, but some rocky shot with a glimmer of a character or movement that keeps a scene alive will serve the greater good. It’s all about the whole, try not to get lost in forcing some froo froo tutti frutti shot.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an editor?

The biggest challenge thus far has been staying on top of the technology and learning how to adapt, grow, and handle multiple arms of the new editing human. In today’s market with so many one man armies out there, it’s becoming more crucial to grow your skills in more than just timeline editing. These skills can be numerous from sound design, to graphic design with programs such as After Effects, etc.

Another big challenge is carrying the burden of the lone soldier of the editing cave. In this cave you alone slave frame by frame, and have a way deeper understanding of what has been “printed”, more so than any other person on the given project and way more so than your audience. Even more so than the director himself. The director has so much going on before, during, and after the shoot, that it’s your job to gather all the pieces and make it work. The baby is now in your lap and you must take care of it! Sometimes the challenges you face alone, are never sung in the halls of high kings. A great achievement goes to the credit of the director many times, and some of the pitfalls of blame land on your shoulders. You can’t say, “well there wasn’t enough coverage, or you forgot to shoot this angle.” You and you alone must make it work. Granted the director is normally available for questions or concerns but the director/editor relationship is another topic completely. Alas, If you were the director or shooter on the project then you know what problems arose to bring you to such forks in the road and it’s a bit easier to deal with. If not, and you are just the editor, a lot of times you are not on set, have no idea what problems arose, or led to only having only this or that take. You have to find the balance on what to bring to the directors attention for help or what to handle all on your own, in order for it all to seamlessly flow as a perfect whimsical wonder across the screen. This is something I’m still learning daily. This isn’t a complaint. It’s your job as the editor. That’s what it says when you look up editor in your Funk & Wagnall. You may actually need to look up Funk & Wagnall first…

If you had to compare editing to something else, what would it be and why?

Birthing dog breeds. The options are endless as well as the possibilities. You can mix and match and construct all sorts of fascinating creations. That being said there will always be the tried and true standards to a best friend, as well as some avenues that lead to monstrous mistakes.

Most annoying editing trend since barn door wipes?

Editing to Dubstep. Twas a blast while it lasted for many. Now it’s as gimmicky as being hit by a bus.

Your thoughts on dissolves? Is it just a crutch? Does it ever actually serve a purpose?

Dissolves are like a sword forged from the fires of mount doom. In the right hands they can be a source of great power, as easily as it can be the branch that breaks and brings upon yourself your own untimely undoing.


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