Good Editor


golden double sprigs

a bad editor

a bad editor

And a bad editor is one who works with great footage and a great story and churns out a bad film.

Very interesting how a film relies on the editor. Many directors say editing is not only their favorite part of the production process, but also the only unique element to the cinematic arts.

So, maybe the major credit on a film should be given to the editor. Before the film's title, instead of starting the credits with the production companies and "directed by . . ." the credits should first say "edited by" while the director is mentioned in small type somewhere else like at the end of the cast.

I have a question. Do you think a film can be pure editing? For example, the footage would be of something very simple: nothing but shots of someone drinking a glass of water, nothing but shots of the city, nothing but nature shots. Films taking this approach are Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera and Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi. By the work of the editor some great cinematography lacking a story or a narrative could be pieced together in a rhythmical, poetic way. Is this cinema at its finest?


New member
I have a question. Do you think a film can be pure editing?
Easily, though it can take a lot of work to make a good movie that way. Didn't Eisenstein say something about how you could take a shot of a baby giggling and an old man smiling, cut them together and show him as a friendly grandfather, then cut exactly the same shot of the old man to a shot of a girl in a bikini and turn him into a dirty old man?

Personally, while I think editors are hugely underrated, I also think it's unfair to ignore a good director's input to the editing. I have salvaged bad movies by directors who didn't know what they were doing, and turned them into OK movies... but many of the best movies I've edited have been pretty much laid out by the director in the storyboard beforehand and it was really just a matter of matching the shots to the storyboard, tidying up the cuts and removing any footage that wasn't needed. I much prefer those to spending a week cutting a five-minute scene from seemingly randomly-shot footage by a first-time director.

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member

I do believe that the editor is a big part of the success of a film, no doubt. Everyone works together to make a great film and each has his part but the editor ties it together, gives it movement, a rhythm, and puts the final touch to what we see on the screen. I think that without a great editor you could have the best Actors, the greatest DP and one of the greatest Directors in the world and still end up with a loser film. I believe there needs to be good chemistry for the making of a great film. Also, a great editor can take a pile of clips of almost random imagery and make something out of it worth seeing.
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