Jun Xia is passionate about his work. As an editor, he is passionate about filmmaking in general but he makes no qualms about his love of Horror films. To be clear, it’s the difficulty of it that calls to him and is so attractive. Jun contends that for an editor, horror films are more difficult and require more of him than any other genre. There are multiple reasons for his opinion but it’s clear that the affinity between this editor and the genre is mutual. His work on the film “Inside Linda Vista Hospital” is evidence that Xia feels called to dig deep and bring brilliance, and the accolades which the film has received have vetted him as one of the premier professionals of the day. In addition to numerous awards, Jun was named winner of Best Editing at the United International Film Festival 2017 and received the prestigious honor of this film being named an Official Selection of the Festival De Cannes Short Film Corner 2017. It’s hard to fathom the concept that a factor which led to such international notoriety was conducted in a small editing room. This is the role and life of an editor however and Xia seems more than comfortable with it. When speaking about his work on “Inside Linda Vista Hospital” it is obvious that his ideas and the images on the screen transport him to another place, just as they do for the audience and even the characters on screen.
Jun is boisterous in his proclamation that editing Horror films is an art form, perhaps even a calling for him. One thing is for sure, when a professional feels as inspired and assured as this, you are certain to get an incredible film. “Inside Linda Vista Hospital” is a pseudo-documentary horror film. The script and fictional elements are used to tell the story but are presented in a style that mirrors the documentary format, giving an implied sense of reality to it. The story is about three explorers of the supernatural who go to investigate an abandoned hospital. They get lost in the hospital and one member of the trio becomes separated from the group. While the other two try to connect and find him, they encounter a variety of horrible things in the hospital. John (the missing member) is lost in the basement as the other two characters encounter patients who had been tortured in the hospital and eventually died. Several surprise twists and turns in the story line deliver the shocks and startles that viewers of this genre love. While it all seems so natural and intuitive when viewing the movie, the film’s editor reveals that it is quite the opposite.
While many people operate under the presumption that an editor simply connects and dissects different scenes, the role is actually one of the most vital in creating a film’s story. Working closely with the director, Jun commonly finds himself in deep discussion about what tone to take in placing the scenes together. As with any creative endeavor, if you aren’t noticing the difficulty that it takes to create the work…it means that a highly skilled artist has manifested it. Xia explains, “Once filming is wrapped, there is still so much work to do before the film takes shape. The story is given to the film editor. The editor should discuss with the director to understand the director’s interpretation and ideas of the script. The editor should also understand the director’s style because every director has a unique voice which will naturally lead to different film styles. After the synthesis of these, the editor will successively present the story’s narrative methods using editing software. It’s paramount to understand the role and temperaments of all these professionals in order to be an effective film editor (the ability to understanding what the writer, director, and actors are doing). When it is most creative and enjoyable is during the post-production, the director and the film editor will communicate and discuss at great length. The film editor needs to understand the style and the ideal effect of the director before starting the cutting. The director will also give the film editor a large creative space in order to maximize the effect that presented by the film.”
Every editor has a process and Xia’s is very specific when it comes to Horror films like “Inside Linda Vista Hospital.” Obviously, he does an initial check of the footage to find the subjective perspectives and intersperse them into the cinematic look of the film; for example, using the POV shots to present the sense of what the character sees while walking. In this way, the audience will feel like they are moving in the film scene while watching the movie. “Inside Linda Vista Hospital” had a large number of handheld camera shots which can be useful but problematic for an editor. Jun describes, “There are a lot of handheld shots in this film. I needed to edit these shots to move fast, so the audience will feel that it’s real and scary. There is a shot in which the character runs into an abandoned red room; I wanted them to run very fast and then fall down on the ground. To achieve this, when I edited this scene, I removed some frames when they run and fall. This is a good idea when editing moving shots. It adds a jolt and surprise element.” Xia adds, “It’s true that editing with a moving or hand-held shot is more difficult than with a fixed shot. A moving shot is constantly changing and often represents the state and psychology of the characters, such as running, walking, or moving with the visual changes of the characters. The editing of these shots should be very reasonable and the convergence of the character movements should be smooth. When editing this, you need to find the splicing points of the screen and then chose the best joint to link the senses of different contents and form a complete action or concept. In addition, based on the characters’ physical movements on the scenes, it’s best to select the beginning or the end of the action as the editing point. In contrast to this, a fixed shot is relatively static and visually has no obvious dynamic shot.
The challenge for Jun when editing a horror film comes not only from the technical aspect of what he is doing but the content which he is given. The footage for a horror film has such a diverse number of factors that affect its delivery. VFX, Dolly shots, fighting or chasing scenes, and other methods are essentially requirements of the genre. While many types of films include some of these, only the rarest contained what is almost always contained in a Horror film. Of course, no scary movie is complete without those unexpected frights which elicit screams and then laughter. This is yet another reason that Jun Xia loves this type of work; it allows him to use the very best he can muster to draw such a wide range of emotional responses from audiences across the planet.