Editing is a postproduction phase of filmmaking that begins following the completion of principal cinematography. An editor (and his or her team of assistant editors) works in close collaboration with the film's director and producer. This means that, as with all areas of filmmaking, editing is a collaborative enterprise, even though, in practice, the film editor is typically responsible for the overall ordering and design of the shots in sequence.

Many editing decisions, however, may originate from the film's director or producer. The famous and unconventional series of dissolves in Taxi Driver (1976) that join shots of Robert DeNiro walking down the same street originated from director Martin Scorsese (b. 1942) rather than editor Tom Rolf (b. 1931). The editing design that opens The Wild Bunch (1969), first establishing the band of outlaws riding into town and then cutting to close-ups of a pair of scorpions struggling in a nest of fire ants, was the idea of producer Phil Feldman (1922–1991). Anne V. Coates (b. 1925) was hired to edit Lawrence of Arabia (1962) after first cutting a trial sequence, prompting director David Lean (1908–1991) to proclaim that for the first time in his career he'd found an editor who cut a sequence exactly the way he would have. Many directors, in fact, are known for having excellent editing skills, including Akira Kurosawa (1910–1998) ( Shichinin no samurai [ Seven Samurai , 1954]), Nicolas Roeg (b. 1928) ( Don't Look Now [1973]), Frederick Wiseman (b. 1930) ( Hospital [1970]), and Sam Peckinpah (1925–1984) ( The Wild Bunch ). Even many of these directors, though, employ first-rate editors on their productions.

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