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The sadness of editing

Nina & I have been esconced in one of our favourite conceptual and actual places recently- the video edit suite. We’re wrestling some footage of us re-enacting (for the 3rd year in a row) into submission for our project Sometime Later, with our editor of saintly patience, Doug. Luckily (for him) I am not able to be there every day, and so the stereo headphone-effect of Pope & Guthrie has a few days off. Interestingly, Nina and I seem to find it easier to agree in the writing and production stages of a film project than in the post-production. This first emerged when we split the editing of our 29 pilgrims in our ‘/broadcast/ project – two very different styles emerged, one lengthy and eliptical, one pithier and led by juxtaposition and unexpected humour. Interestingly I can’t remember whose was whose.
More interestingly, this tension - coupled with Doug’s comparitive ruthlessness (he’s from a TV background) – seems to produce results. It’s undoubtedly not the most time-efficient way of working - with its negotiation, occasional blind alleys and indulgences – and yet the work seems to thrive on this elasticity, to find its resting point.
Editing documentary footage – for me - is akin to sculpture, maybe carving in fact. It’s very intuitive, even for professionals like Doug it seems, although we can all rationalise why shots work the moment they do. With every cut there’s a poignancy as you lose unique moments, but then there’s a clarity emerging which is truthful I hope. I can’t imagine editing drama can be anything like as cathartic, where you have so few choices, driven by both the narrative and the available shots. But then I guess the ‘infinity element’ is there in the writing of drama and fiction, not in the edit. The opposite is true of the documentary.