Category Archives: Film Editor

Sought After Editor Aijia Li: A Master of the Cut

Aijia working on a new upcoming feature film.jpg

No matter how powerful the actors’ performances, how brilliant the director, or how adept the cinematographer, the film that audiences ultimately see is only as good as its editor. When tens to hundreds of hours of footage reach the editor’s desk, the success of the film is in their hands. Like a conductor who turns the unbridled chaos of an orchestra into the most beautiful of symphonies, a great editor can create a timeless masterpiece from a million disparate pieces, and that is exactly what editor Aijia Li accomplishes with every project she takes on.

Hailing from Changchun in northeast China, Aijia developed a passion for film and photography when she was just a teen. She spent her youth hungrily absorbing every movie she could get her hands on. By the time she reached college she’d accumulated a huge collection of movies, and was falling more in love with filmmaking with each passing day.

“I’ve had a passion for telling stories since I was a kid, and then I started writing stories and novels. But film has always been my spiritual food,” Aijia recalled. “In junior high, I spent all my allowance on DVDS, and now my parents still have a few boxes of my collection in the house.”

It was during college that Aijia seriously began experimenting with creating and editing her own films. She discovered just how crucial the editor’s job was to the overall process and realized that she had a natural aptitude for the delicate and often-arduous job. But editing films was not just something she was good at — it was something she loved. As an editor, Aijia was able to work hand-in-hand with the director to shape and define the story as they envisioned it. It’s not much of a stretch to liken her role to that of a midwife, guiding the film through the last critical stages before it enters the world.

“Film can [only] be film because of editing. A good editor can save the director’s life. I think in the digital age, the editor as the director’s closest partner may become more and more important,” Aijia explained. “The relationship between the director and the editor is like a marriage. After they finish shooting the film, the director spends more time with the editor than their own family. A good director understands that the film is the editor’s work. Before editing, what the director has is only the raw material.”

Editor Aijia Li
Film poster for “The Moon Also Rises”

Nowhere is the power of that partnership between director and editor more evident than in the quality of Aijia’s work. Time and again she faithfully executes the director’s vision, blurring the line between art and science with equal measures of calculated efficiency and creative instinct. The 2018 drama “The Moon Also Rises” is a perfect example of Aijia’s unparalleled editorial prowess. Simultaneously moving and thought-provoking, “The Moon Also Rises” is an existential exploration of the impacts that people have on the lives of those around them, and the lasting traces they leave when they’re gone.

“This film is different from any other film I’ve edited,” Aijia said. “In the process of cross-editing, the difference between the images and the proportion of the frame gives the audience a strong sense of the drama’s conflict… The director of this film is a pure artist.”

Faced with the daunting challenge of creating a final product that lived up to director Yao Yu’s lofty expectations, Aijia’s work on “The Moon Also Rises” was a trial by fire. The resulting film is a testament to both her technical expertise and keen creative instincts. Impressed by the film’s concept and execution, judges at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival included “The Moon Also Rises” in the festival’s 2018 lineup of screenings.

Aijia had already cultivated a stellar reputation as an editor prior to “The Moon Also Rises.” Among her earlier works was the inspiring 2016 film “Short Term” about the unlikely paternal bond a homeless man develops with a young boy he finds living on the streets. Written, directed and edited by Aijia Li, “Short Term” explores the perennially-relevant subjects of poverty and racism and the impacts they have on the most vulnerable members of society.

“As the editor, the only way to make this kind of emotional story great is to edit by heart. I understand the characters, I feel them…,” Aijia explained of her process. “Another thing is, less is more. I don’t cut too much when there’s a heavy, emotional moment. I hold it. Because good editing is not just about skill and it’s not an editor’s showreel. It’s a story.”

Aijia Li
Film Poster for “Short Term”

That philosophy guided Aijia’s work throughout the editing process, and when critics and audiences watched “Short Term” it was obvious she had a gift possessed by few others in the field. The film immediately caught the attention of festival judges across the country. In addition to winning top prize at the 2016 Women’s Independent Film Festival, “Short Term” was also a semi-finalist at both the Los Angeles CineFest and the Hollywood Screening Film Festival. It was also an official selection at the International Family Film Festival, the Lady Filmmakers Festival and the Glendale International Film Festival — where it was also nominated for two additional awards.

Among some of Aijia Li’s other masterful works as an editor is the recent film “Float,” which earned multiple prestigious awards from the 2017 European Independent Film Awards, Hollywood Film Competition, London Independent Film Awards and the LA Shorts Awards, and Pantha Rahman’s dramatic film “Deceased,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival, Bucharest International Film Festival, Indian Peacock International Film Festival and more.

glendale film festival
Editor Aijia Li at the Glendale Film Festival for the film “Short Term”

“I have encountered many editors during my time in the film industry, but Aijia was my only choice to work on this film. Aijia has the best feel for editing out of any professional I have ever worked with,” admits “Deceased” director Pantha Rahman.

“I was incredibly impressed by the high level of emotion she added to my film… Ms. Li’s unlimited knowledge and understanding of editing was evident in every single cut she made… Her vast knowledge and wealth of experience were essential in building the film’s narrative structure… Without Ms. Li as the editor of ‘Deceased,’ the engaging visuals and sentimentally resonant narrative would have never come together, making me forever grateful for her work on the film.”

Editor Aijia Li
Film Poster for “Deceased”

A great editor understands a film’s story and characters as well as they understand the technical aspects of the job. In many ways a film is a lot like an unassembled puzzle when the editor’s job begins. Only, this puzzle includes hundreds of extra pieces and there is no picture to reference. The only way to know where the pieces go and what they’ll form is to fully understand what the director’s vision is and how to bring it to life. In the simplest terms, that’s what Aijia Li does — from thousands of scrambled, disparate pieces, she builds stories with the power to move audiences to laughter or tears.

 

Finessing the Footage: Film Editor Oliver Harwood

Oliver Harwood
Film Editor Oliver Harwood

Like a well trained surgeon, award-winning film editor Oliver Harwood’s ability to carefully cut together media is as inspired as it is precise. A storyteller at his core, Harwood’s impressive body of work spans widely across a decade, boasting perfect examples of both skill and art in dozens of films, including the multi-award winning “Waste” and the international sensation “A Meditation,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of more than 25 film festivals across the globe.

Originally from Northamptonshire, UK, Harwood is far from just a “set of hands” in the editing room. In the industry, Harwood’s strong ability to work symbiotically with the director is a coveted talent, setting him apart from other editors who let their own personal style get in the way of the director’s vision.

“As an editor, I feel that my personal taste is a secondary concern to the director’s intention,” he remarks. “I like to think that my personal style is to have no personal style. In other words, it’s about bringing out the personal style of the director. If an editor’s primary concern is to impose an intrinsic style on every project they do, they should quit editing and be a director,” he says with a smile.

Film Poster for "Waste"
Film Poster for “Waste”

And acclaimed director Justine Raczkiewicz of “Waste” may agree. Her film, edited magnificently by Harwood, took home many awards through a large circuit, including Best Female Director at the Hollyshorts Film Festival and a Finalist at the USA Film Festival, as well as multiple Official Selections for festivals including the Brooklyn Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival and more.

“Waste” tells the story of Roger, a shy and reclusive man working at a medical waste disposal facility. In the film, Roger becomes infatuated with his roommate Olive, a woman who models herself after a 1950’s housewife and seems to be more interested in pursuing the latest culinary fads rather than finding a mate.

Roger finds her quirkiness endearing, but learns one night over dinner that they have slightly variant food preferences (read: Olive eats human beings.) Roger politely dines with Olive, apprehensively crunching a sauteed human tongue which she has procured from a website selling ‘the discarded tongues of Buddhist monks who cut them out to be closer to God.’

Awoken now to a grizzly new world, Roger must balance his feelings for her with this dark new insight into who she is. After nodding off at work, Roger experiences a series of disturbing and strange dreams which ultimately lead him to confess his love for Olive.

Roger arrives, flowers in hand, to find Olive in a ball on the floor. She has severed her own toes and, barely hanging onto consciousness, she tells Roger that she’s tried to saute them. The picture changes to a black screen, and credits roll over audio of Olive instructing Roger on how to perfectly cook the toes, and Roger seems to be obeying.

Harwood does a brilliant job telling an unsettling love story using carefully selected lingering shots and impeccably timed cuts. At times, thanks to the editing technique, the viewer’s own levels of discomfort seem to perfectly match what the characters are feeling in that moment.

Harwood articulates his method best, explaining that “typically, a scene would start with a wide shot to establish the space, and then gradually work into the close ups, where the best performances are usually found… But with this one, we decided to start some [scenes] with a closeup shot, and then work our way to the wider shots. This helped reinforce the weird and uncomfortable tone of the story by creating ambiguity to some of the physical spaces used in the film.”

In film, when genres are combined, it takes an experienced, intelligent, and talented editor to tell the story correctly, without playing up one genre more than the other, and Harwood delivers this impeccably.

“When a film chooses to explore darker subject matters with a comical slant to it, the story must remain engaging enough to stand on its own and not be overridden by the themes,” he explains. “Otherwise, the overall feeling of the piece can be left feeling a bit pretentious without a strong emotional narrative to back it up. I tried to remove all thoughts of deeper meaning and intellectual subtext when editing and focused on the emotional through lines that guide the audience.”

Film Poster for "A Meditation"
Film Poster for “A Meditation”

Able to get into the minds of all types of genres, Harwood also displays exceptional work in the film “A Meditation,” which took home six awards from festivals including the MedFF and the Red Corner Film Festival, and screened as an Official Selection of the BLOW-UP International Arthouse Film Festival, Eindhovens Film Festival, Lisbon Film Festival, Oaxaca Film Festival, Kansas City Film Festival, and the San Francisco Black Film Festival to name a few.

This film, on the surface, does not appear to have much going on in terms of the story itself. “It revolves around a man who seems to be ambling through a particularly aimless point in his life,” Harwood describes. “He has no quest, no great adversity, just a vague sense of anxiety that comes with anyone who fears the existential dread of an empty weekend. He meditates, feeds his cat and browses the news, everything done without any particular enthusiasm or resentment.  He seems to be just passing the time.”

The subject is awoken from a midday nap to his doorbell ringing; a young woman wants to buy a DVR he listed on Craigslist earlier that day. She wants to ensure that the machine works, so she follows him into the house to test it out. While in the bedroom, she notices marijuana on the dresser and asks, rather bluntly, if he’d like to smoke. They do, laughing together, and then the woman suggests they take off their clothes and get into bed. The initial awkwardness wears off quickly, and the pair embrace each other warmly until they are interrupted by the woman’s ringing cellphone. Her boyfriend has called, and she has to go.

She leaves, her warmth and presence from moments before replaced with a curt, aloof awkwardness, and the male subject goes about his daily routine of nothingness.

Harwood leans into the simplistic tone of the film by making similar editing choices at the top of the movie. “Because this is rather a simple story, I felt as if the editing of the piece should reflect that. Before the girl arrives, nothing of much significance seems to be happening, though there is a heavy emphasis on establishing a mood and tone,” explains Harwood. “To be able to do this effectively and as economically as possible is something that I believe is vital to a story of this kind.”

However, when the film moves in a more sexually explicit direction and the characters start to open up to each other, the shots became much closer and more personal.

Harwood says, “It was this break in style that influenced me to shift from a rather ‘matter of fact’ and simple editing practice to more abstract and emotionally driven choices.”

The shift is seamless; the viewer cannot quite put their finger on what has happened, but rather they can suddenly feel a change in energy, and this is the mark of a very, very good editor.

“Outside of the technical skill to handle the physical editing of the film, Oliver brought his unique and specific talents and approach to storytelling which is why I selected him to be the editor,” says Joe Petricca, the director of “A Meditation.” “He has great taste in and knowledge of film.”

The director and cinematographer may get all the coverage in the world, but when it comes down to it, how those shots are carefully stitched together bares some serious weight in regard to the final outcome and impact of the project. Oliver Harwood is undoubtedly a gem amongst ediors in the industry, and his refined and invaluable skill set is truly an asset both to the industry and to audiences worldwide.

 

Editor Ran Ro tells her personal story in acclaimed film ‘In Between’

Korea’s Ran Ro remembers the first time she fell in love with the idea of filmmaking. It was when watching the iconic French film Amelie. As she took in the film, it was a different experience than simply watching a movie. In one scene in particular, the narrator lists out what Amelie, the protagonist, likes, as audiences see the visuals depicted by the narration. That moment sparked a fire inside Ro. She took in how the “mundane” aspects of a film could easily be ignored by the masses but can be captured so beautifully and significantly. It was then when Ro decided she wanted to be an editor. She loved the power that such small decisions could have over the telling of powerful stories, and she was ready to become a master of the artform.

Now, Ro is known for doing just what she admired when watching Amelie. Her attention to detail creates visual masterpieces, whether she be working on a minute long commercial or a feature film. Her work with brands such as Tastemade, BackBeatRags, and Elite Model Management captivated worldwide audiences, and when she embarked on her most personal project ever, the film In Between, she once again impressed.

“The underlying concept of the project was developed when I stumbled across a memorial park in Honolulu. I was supposedly at a place that represents the end of life, but all there was in front of me was empty scenery. Observing the sunlight landing on the unmoving landscape, I couldn’t help but feel oddly at peace. In comparison, I began to think about the emotional turbulence that one goes through in life. The script was written shortly after this experience, as a means of unravelling the curiosity that arose that day at the memorial park. My childhood experience of being raised by my grandmother became a central plot line of the main character of the film,” said Ro.

In Between tells the story of Tina, who in the middle of a suicide attempt on New Year’s Eve discovers a mysterious path inside her duvet cover, leading her to an ethereal space filled with an infinite number of lights. Not only did Ro edit the film, but she also wrote, directed, and produced it.

After premiering last year, the film saw immense success at several prestigious international film festivals. It won the Award of Excellence at Best Shorts Competition and was a semifinalist at the Los Angeles CineFest, the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival, to name a few.

“It is rewarding and also very encouraging to have seen the audience resonate with a story that involved my personal experience. It motivates me to create stories that are meaningful and that challenge me to be more curious and observant about things around me and about human emotions,” said Ro.

Music played a large part in the film, from the writing process all the way to editing. One of the music scores titled “Reoccurence” greatly inspired Ro, and she played it repeatedly throughout the production, allowing it to stimulate the rest of the cast and crew.

“During rehearsals with actors, I played the same music to match the pace of their dialogue and the rhythm of the music, knowing that I would be using that score when editing. Once the actors were tuned into the music, the whole scene fit into it – the very last dialogue ended with the last beat of the music,” she described.

Filming went very smoothly, which made the editing process almost effortless for Ro. She knew the exact pace and tone that she wanted for each scene after being involved in the writing and directing processes.

The film uses otherworldly places to visually portray metaphors on time and space. In one scene, this is exemplified when the protagonist crawls through an endless path underneath a duvet cover when time freezes during the New Year’s countdowns. She encounters a little girl who guides her to another otherworldly place, “The Gap”, a realm in between life and death where the souls reside.

The Gap was instrumental to the film, and it was conceptualized when Ro imagined an unperceivable place that exists in between every second. She thought of it as a place where all past moments exist. The main character in the film, who keeps her dear memories of her grandmother, reunites with a younger self of the grandmother in The Gap. This was Ro’s favorite scene in the entire film, and the one she felt the deepest connection with.

“I enjoyed seeing my vision come to life every step of the way from writing, casting to production. It was surreal but also very exciting to see what I envisioned actually happen right in front of me. I felt very grateful that the crew that I was working with truly understood my vision and used their talent to materialize it,” she concluded.

Be sure to watch the beauty of Ro’s work on In Between here.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

‘The Ballerina, The Shoemaker and His Apprentice’ takes audiences back in time with help of Meibei Liu’s editing

As a film editor, Meibei Liu sees herself almost as the conductor of an orchestra. She puts together endless footage and turns it into a piece of art, transforming a script into a true visual masterpiece. In many ways, she is like the doctor of a film; she removes what is unnecessary and replaces what needs work. Editing is putting the final pieces of the director’s puzzle together, and Liu not only understands that, but she also thrives because of it, and that is what makes her a good filmmaker.

Having worked on a variety of projects that have made their way to many prestigious film festivals around the world, Liu has made quite a name for herself as an editor. Such films include Dear Mamá, Headshot, Faith Need Not Change Her Gown, Pumpkin and Fried Noodle, and more. Recently, her film The Ballerina The Shoemaker and His Apprenticereceived nominations at the Oscar-Qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and LA Shorts Fest, Maryland International Film Festival, and Ouchy Film Festival in Switzerland, New Port Beach Film Festival where it was nominated for Short Film Award, The Grand Jury Award and Best College Film at The Next Generation Filmmaker Film Festival.

“I’m happy to hear that the film went all over the world for festivals and awards. I was glad that my changes made it into the film and was shown to people who speak different languages. It confirmed that emotions expressed and enhanced by editing can be identified by everyone, which made me believe that I should continue doing what I did for the film. I was glad that Eva asked me to go on board and be part of the project. That gave me a chance to show my attitude towards editing to people,” said Liu.

The film takes place in 1963 Hackney, England, and follows George Arkwright, a young man down on his luck, who must navigate the refined world of ballet pointe shoe making and redeem his value as the apprentice under the shadow of Mr. David Traynor, a talented but stuffy point shoemaker. George’s imagination turns into a reality when he becomes smitten with the Ballerinas the shoes are built for, one named Sylvia particularly, but soon learns this magical and seemingly distant world is not beyond the reach of affliction. Liu came on board half way through editing the film when the Director, Eva Ye, realized she needed expansive editing talent to turn her vision into a reality.

“Working with Meibei was great. She has a strong sensibility for impactful storytelling through an editing perspective. She often provides new perspectives to the story and is invested in trying different ways of getting the emotion across. Sometimes she is more willing to dig deep into the materials just to find something I didn’t even know existed. Her passion and dedication to editing is something I’ve seen rarely. And in many ways, she makes my work better,” said Ye.

Liu is able to address the problems of cuts quickly. When she reviewed the first cut that was made before she was brought on, she realized exactly how to transform the footage into what the director wanted and what audiences would connect with. She took what was a half-finished film and reworked it, making it better. She realized that the scenes were dragging; all of them could end earlier by cutting out some of the lines and actions. She stopped in the middle of the first scene and started the second scene earlier, helping to show the main character’s eagerness. Sometimes, however, she chose to extend a scene and have it linger longer to show the apprentice’s feeling of loss and disappointment. This film has very subtle emotions, and an editor’s vision and eye on digging out the emotions, and enhancing them by editing is vital. Being a very emotional person who is strong at noticing the emotional changes of people, Liu was the ideal candidate to take over as editor.

“It’s a story of dreaming. I believe this is a film that speaks to everyone in spite of when and where it happened. It’s a worldwide emotion that people all over the world can understand. I believe it is important to tell this kind of story, giving the audience a short period of time to experience something they can relate to,” Liu concluded.

The Ballerina, The Shoemaker, and His Apprentice is currently available on Amazon Prime Videos.

 

Written by Sara Fowler

Editor Xiaodan Yang creates visual masterpiece with ‘It’s Not Just About a Film’

Xiaodan Yang knows being a film editor isn’t always the most glamorous job in the industry. When she goes to a film premiere, she will see the cast and crew and feel like she knows them so well after seeing their faces on her screen for the past few months. However, it is often the premiere where they first meet her. Editing isn’t a front-and-centre job, and often involves many isolated hours going through the same five seconds of footage trying to decide how best to use it. That being said, she absolutely loves what she does.

“I enjoy every moment during editing. I’m glad to be a participant and witness of the whole journey. Editing is my tool to communicate with audiences. It is how I put my emotions into the story. When people connect with the film, that’s my favorite moment, and I know I’ve done my job,” she said.

Born and raised in China, Yang has now taken the world by storm. Her work on films such as Witness and Sixteen received international recognition, and audiences can expect the same from her upcoming films Kayla and Summer Orange, which makes its world premiere at the renowned Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner in May. All those she collaborates with not only appreciate what she is capable of, they admire it.

“Xiaodan is a very talented editor. We know each other because of film Snatching Sword (a.k.a Wang Shan). Snatching Sword is an action film, and over half of the scenes are action scenes. As we all know, editing action scenes is like a big trial for an editor. When Xiaodan delivered her first cut, I saw her talents instantaneously. She is sensitive to the pace of the film and knows how to use sound design to tell a story. I think that’s really important for a film editor. What’s more, she has a very collaborative attitude and the ability of responding promptly, which make her an excellent team player. My other crew members and I all enjoy working with her,” said Rachel Zhou, Director and Writer.

One of Yang’s most impressive works was her film It’s Not Just About a Film. After spending the beginning of 2017 editing the project, it premiered on May 13th, and then made its way to several film festivals. Yang herself was awarded with Best Editing at the Top Shorts Film Festival and the Award of Merit in Editing at the Accolade Global Film Festival. Needless to say, the film could never have seen the success that it did without her.

“It still feels so exciting, knowing my work was recognized on a global scale. Winning those two awards, it means so much to me. To be honest, this is not that kind of regular ‘Hollywood film’. The way we decided to tell the story breaks the routine. I’m so glad there are people that can understand our intention and like it,” she said.

It’s Not Just About a Film tells the story of Max, an actor. To get the lead of a film, Max seduces and has an affair with Cameron, the lead actress and wife of the film’s investor Fabrizio. However, as the shooting goes on, Max realizes that Fabrizio is a violent person with a gangster background. Max wants to end the affair but finds himself unable to break away from it. It is a pretty stylish story, ironic and funny, but also extremely suspenseful.

Working on It’s Not Just About a Film was a very creative process. The director and I had reached a consensus that we had to break the rules. It’s a wild story that needs wild ways to edit. That’s actually not an easy thing to do, but I was ready to try. It was like a brand-new experience for me. When I was working in the editing suite with Chen, the Director, he always encouraged me to try whatever felt good. I could forget about any editing rules in my mind, and it made for an amazing experience. I still feel so lucky that I got to be part of it. All the cast and crew were amazing,” said Yang.

Knowing he wanted Yang on board right away, the director sent her the script. At the time, it was not even completed. The first time she read the script, the story impressed the editor a lot. It was completely different from the films she had edited previously, and Yang is always looking for something new and unique challenges to get her creative juices flowing.

The film follows three different timelines all happening at the same time and includes several dream sequences. These three timelines revolve around the leading character in the story, reality, his dream and the film within the film. This makes for entertaining watching, but immensely challenging editing. With so much going on, Yang knew she had to put the scenes together in not just a creative way, but also one that was logical for audiences not to get lost and confused in the different storylines. She spent a good deal of time on the first cut. Almost every scene in the film had a different location, or even different time and space. Therefore, Yang decided to use different aspect ratios to present different timelines. However, after a few cuts, she still had the concern as to whether or not the audience could understand everything. She then tried to simplify the story by losing minor details, which made the film more relaxed and funny. Yang’s understanding of storytelling proved vital.

“Since the structure of this story was so complicated, editing played an even more important role. I kept reminding myself about one thing, “What am I trying to convey to the audience here?”. Once I was sure about the answer, every decision I made should serve this purpose. Otherwise, it’s easy to get off track under this situation. That’s why my work is particularly essential for this project. I had the responsibility to control the direction of the film, and at the same time to make it interesting,” Yang described.

In addition to editor, Yang took on the role of post-production coordinator for the film. As an editor, she cares about the sound and color correction a lot, and she always sticks to the end until everything is done, making her the perfect fit for the position. She also likes to give her input to the sound designer and colorist, knowing what would work best while editing.

Undoubtedly, Yang’s contributions to It’s Not Just About a Film made the film what it is today. Her commitment to the project was evident with every decision she made. However, the awards and accolades are not important to this editor, who remains humble. For Yang, she just focuses on the story she is telling.

“As the director said, “It’s a story about dream and subjective perception of the world.” And there is always a saying that “dream is the reflection of reality”. I don’t know if there’s scientific evidence to prove it, but it makes sense to me. Based on this concept, we developed this wild, dramatic, even absurd story. For me, it’s fantastic. It stimulated my full potential as an editor,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out Yang’s outstanding work in It’s Not Just About a Film.

 

By Sean Desouza

Through the eyes of Èlia Gasull Balada, Editor of ‘Icaros: A Vision’

Elia 2
Èlia Gasull Balada, photo by Carla Gonzalez

Film editor Èlia Gasull Balada had quite a 2017. Esquire and the The New Yorker included one of her most recent films, Icaros: A Vision, in their lists of the best films of the year. After an extensive festival circuit, Icaros had its theatrical release in the United States that summer and soon afterwards in Canada and England. The film will be released in Mexican and Italian theaters this upcoming spring as well.

With a solid experience in cutting trailers, music videos and commercials for production companies and directors such as Part 2 Pictures and Matthew Newton, Gasull Balada balances her career between feature and documentary films like the Documentary TV Series, This Is Life with Lisa Ling, and the highly anticipated social and political wonder, THE KING. Consistently ranging from documentaries to fiction work, Gasull Balada’s versatility makes her undoubtedly a multi-faceted editor.

Following a period of filming in 2014, Gasull Balada’s talents were recognized when she was recommended to edit the feature film Icaros: A Vision. When meeting with Abou Farman, the producer, as well as with the co-directors, Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi, they clicked and immediately decided to start a collaboration together. Èlia was very attracted by the synergy that existed between Caraballo, Norzi and Farman. Norzi has a background as a conceptual artist and Caraballo was a photographer and a video artist in a duo collaboration with Farman, who is also an anthropologist.

Icaros: A Vision follows the life of Angelina, an American woman who travels to the Amazon in search of a miracle after exhausting all her medical options back home. In her search, she finds a group of foreign individuals seeking transcendence, companionship, and the secrets of life and death. Eventually, her perceptions are altered by the ancient psychedelic plant known as ayahuasca, as well as through her bond with Arturo, a young indigenous shaman who is losing his eyesight. When Gasull Balada embarked on this project, she faced the challenge of editing a long meditation between dreams and reality. One of her primary tasks was finding a way to escape the conventional and create an original universe that could faithfully represent  the vision that Leonor and Matteo had. In Gasull Balada’s words, Icaros: A Vision “stays with you and brings you to the Amazon in a way that you don’t expect.”  

At the outset of the film’s editing journey, Gasull Balada was working closely with Caraballo; unfortunately, Caraballo passed away before the editing finished. The film is partly based on Caraballo’s life experiences with cancer and her passing opened a big reflection about life and death for Gasull Balada. They had worked very closely till almost the very end and witnessing the departure of a young artist and creative force was a life lesson for her.

“Leonor’s commitment and vision came from the pure essence of being an artist. It is not easy to make films that talk about difficult subjects like death and she gave everything to it. Icaros wants to explore the mystery of something that goes beyond the rational. The challenge lied in bringing the audience to dark and unexplored places and blurring the  boundaries between dreams and reality. From there, we tried to find moments of truth that could become moving sensorial experiences and could lead to reflections about what it means to die,” she said.

In the wake of Caraballo’s passing, Gasull Balada, Norzi and Farman kept working together to complete the film. Because of the extraordinary and unfortunate circumstances of the project, the edit of Icaros: A Vision was a long process, providing Gasull Balada a long window of time that allowed her to experiment widely with the footage.

“It’s not common to get enough time to experiment until you exhaust all the possibilities. With this film we really pushed ourselves to try many different things until we got to places we felt very confident about. The vision was slowly constructed and we think that Leonor is very pleased with what we did,” Gasull Balada commented.

“Èlia was a crucial part of our film Icaros: A Vision, which had a successful release in North America with full accolades from the press — The New York Times, Variety, The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. As an editor, she is technically skillful, but that is not what stands out about her. She is someone who finds solutions where none seem to exist because she is both patient and experimental. She can layer images and meanings together. That is what worked for us in our film, that deep layering of meaning and images that make a film transcend the occasion of its shooting. She also has a keen eye for detail, which for an editor means making the right decision about when to cut. Elia’s relationship to cinema is a creator’s relationship. She is committed to an aesthetic and moral vision. She ‘sees’ the film… that is, she sees through the material of the film into its deeper meanings and builds the film from there. This was a difficult film in a difficult circumstance, where the main director was on her deathbed right next to Elia as she was editing – I truly don’t believe any other person would have made it through those conditions, let alone accomplish a masterful edit,” said Farman.

Norzi and Caraballo had in mind a very clear aesthetic that it was partly influenced by the experiences they had had with ayahuasca and the Shipibo Conibo imaginary, but they wanted to bring in other elements like animation and some of the previous video art that Caraballo and Farman had created. Gasull Balada faced the challenge of finding a cohesive language that could interweave the original footage shot for the film with all this other material.

“We played with many different elements in this movie but two of them were essential to me: Nature and the Icaros, which are the songs that the shamans sing during the ayahuasca ceremonies. The jungle embraces the journey of Angelina and Arturo, as well as all the other passengers, and it is also the stage for The Vision and the sequence of hallucinations that compose the story. We experimented a lot with how the forest was going to be present throughout the film and how it would be an essential layer of the whole sensory experience. And we did the same thing with the Icaros. There’s no additional music besides the shamanic songs and those help the audience to vibrate and to navigate through different moods. The harmony of the jungle, and the wisdom of the Shipibo Conibo people come in a full circle that starts and ends with Nature. It’s based on the concept of unity and that was our guide during the editing process. Later on, the work that Tom Paul did with the sound design brought the film to another level and created a full immersive experience,” pointed Gasull Balada.

Icaros: A Vision went on to premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in the International Narrative Competition. At the Crested Butte Film Festival, Icaros: A Vision won the Special Jury Award. It went on to be an official selection at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Warsaw Film Festival, and the Santa Fe Film Festival, and screened at International Film Festivals like La Roche Sur Yon, Guadalajara, Habana, Cleveland and Istanbul, among many others.  

 

By Sean Desouza

Video Editor Emeric Le Bars Has Time on His Side

Hollywood’s film community is populated by a host of specialized craftsmen and technicians, with many working behind the camera in unique, separate and distinct fields. These widely varying duties abound in the post-production stage of filmmaking and while many make limited contributions, others have a critical impact on a films audience. The editor is perhaps the single most significant of all post-production talent, with the ability to dictate the feel, pace and emotion of the finished product, and French-born video editor Emeric Le Bars is quickly proving himself as one of the best in the business.

While Le Bars has distinguished himself as an in-demand cutter with a solid reputation thanks to such as editing award winning features Lily’s Light and documentary Live Another Day, numerous episodes of TV series Say Hello, contributions to in-douse content for Smile TV and public television station PBS Socal, numerous freelance editing jobs and his own web series The French Touch. It’s a fast-growing body of work that ensures Le Bars status as a rising up and comer on a natural career path.

“As a youth, I was shooting a lot of small personal movies with friends and family,” Le Bars said. “And I started getting really good at video editing—the passion started there. Then when I went to college, I had classes and internships where I was doing a lot of video editing and camera work. I knew this was what I wanted to do in my life and moved from France to the United-States as soon as I graduated.”

Based in Hollywood, Le Bars keeps busy, thanks to his editing skills but has recently parlayed even more fascinating skill into a new facet of his career—time lapse photography, Time lapse, of course, is the sequential series of photos shot over a long period of time and compressed into a finished product that shows what was originally a gradual piece of action (a flower blooming, a dawn-to-dusk cityscape) at a dramatically accelerated pace. While the process sounds simple, it’s a discipline that requires comprehensive technical knowledge and painstaking attention to the camera’s mechanics to ensure a seamless final effect, and Le Bars is one of the best in the business.

“Time lapse photography is really a mix of photography and video editing,” Le Bars said. “That’s why I love it so much. I have a portfolio of more than 600 clips from all around the world. And time lapse has become a big part of my life—I now specialize in them, shooting for big companies like Skyspace LA, Google, Red Bull and, recently, on the Netflix original Real Rob.”

Le Bars’ previous work, and notable profile as a force to be reckoned with, made him a natural for the show (a charming fast paced series centered on comedian Rob Schneider’s day-to-day Hollywood life) which began to prominently feature his top quality time lapse.

“I had worked with Real Rob editor Darius Wilhere on The Hollywouldn’ts, a movie he directed,” Le Bars said. “He saw that I was also doing time lapse and asked me to edit a few for Real Rob. I wasn’t used to working on demand—usually I go out and shoot what I want, the way I want it. This time, I had to make sure I was doing what Rob Schneider wanted, make sure I am using the right interval for the subject, the right composition and the right shutter speed. The color correction is also very important as well because it has to be related to the subject is, Los Angeles, sunshine, palm trees.”

Characteristically, Le Bars nailed it: “Emeric is, without a doubt, in the top 1% of time lapse videographer-editors working in the world today,” Real Rob editor Darius S Wilhere said. “His work is gorgeous and the quality is evident to anyone who sees at it. It’s his attention to detail and his willingness to return to locations again and again until he has the exact right shot that communicates the beauty and power of a given location.”

“This level of work only comes from constant dedication to one’s craft for years and tens of thousands of hours. I applaud his diligence to the craft and look forward to working with him for many years to come. The director and producers were thrilled with his work and have asked me in advance to secure his services for season 3.”

“Rob Schneider and Netflix loved the shots,” Le Bars said. “My time lapse work ended up opening 8 episodes of season 2 and also as a few establishing shots in the episodes. It definitely is an amazing credit to have on my resume”

Having firmly established himself with a formidable catalog of professional achievements in just a few short years, the driven, ambitious Le Bars’ potential is unlimited.

“I have always been a big dreamer,” Le Bars said. “And every day I am thankful that I am where I always wanted to be, working in the field I always wanted to work in and that I am around so many creative people in the city of Angels. All of this helps me to create more and more content, to edit more and more time lapses and videos.

“Just follow your dreams in life. I know it’s easy to say, but if a young French man who came to the US with nothing and succeeds in the industry can do it, anyone can do it. Create a life that you will remember. Work hard for what matters to you, not to others.”

 

HOW THREE RIVERS ACQUIRED ITS SUSPENSE

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 8.17.46 PM.png

Advertisers have become much more aware of the fact that interesting presentations equal more attention for their products as well as a longer life in terms of their production budget. To that end, shrewd and astute companies have given greater latitude to the artists they use in creating these promotions. Italian fashion company Golden Goose has utilized the duo of editor Aaron Bencid and director Marco Prestini in a trio of fashion films which are highly unusual, deeply narrative, and always compelling. It seems that the company subscribes to the idea that when you hire a professional, it’s with the understanding that you allow them to do what they know how to do best rather than telling them how you’d like it done. The director of Three Rivers for Golden Goose agrees with this as well as he states, “I was given a lot of creative freedom on this project and the only request made was to have three female characters. I used the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and work on a narrative to portray the collection. I usually edit my own films but since I was piercing into new territory, I wanted to divide the labor with someone I knew I could trust so I asked my long-time collaborator and great editor Aaron Bencid. He definitely demonstrated a different sensibility and approach towards the project, which ultimately made it better. Working with him was a professional, intuitive, and overall well- rounded experience. A great thing about Aaron is that he’s not just someone who knows the ins and outs of the program, but he comes up with opinions and solutions of his own. He’s as good of a listener as he is an active participant during the editorial process.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 8.17.27 PM

Bencid approaches every project whether it be film, television, web-based, promotional, etc., with the purpose of affecting the emotional impact of the production’s message. Three Rivers is a subtle drama with elements of suspense. An eerie and cryptic voiceover at the beginning hints to an uncertain world. The imagery is subtle yet powerful; its composition imposes a certain amount of anxiety. The character’s actions are purposely mysterious, inducing the audience into a sense of dread and confusion. The first visuals are that of the ancient sequoias; silent giants that for centuries have extended their presence towards the sky and the infinite. Birds sing amidst the foliage and forest community, where a road extends hiding in the trees. A black SUV approaches in the distance, dominated in every direction by the grandeur of the trees which overlook the black asphalt. Two women (Anna and Heather) have been traveling for hours towards the heart of the forest where, hidden among rocks and conifers, a small glass house is seen in the distance. This secret place far from the noise and the city is where as usual the two love to take refuge during the first days of autumn. Accompanying the duo is a mysterious hitchhiker they picked up on their drive to this remote location in the woods. The following morning, one of the girls is discovered missing.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 8.18.16 PM

The setting for this story implies the same contrast that Golden Goose and their distressed fashion line is known for. The mystery and intrigue are compliments of the editor and director. The plot sets an obvious somber and eerie tone to which Aaron wanted to be faithful and magnify. His use of use of unnaturally long moments to induce a sense of awkwardness and uneasiness is reminiscent of Yorgo Lanthimos’ work (famed Greek director known for his creative vision in films like The Lobster, Dogtooth, Alps, and others). Bencid describes, “I never wanted the film to feel cutty. The mood of it was purposely slow and I wanted the film to flow like that in the edit. Involving too many cuts in a specific scene would overload it and disrupt its tone. This ended up being a main template; having the shots drag out instead of cutting it short. Remaining on certain shots for longer periods of time than normal helped me enhance the desired effect. I didn’t want the audience to realize when the cut came in, as if you were trapped in this loop; a loop that narratively parallels the ending of the film.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 8.18.33 PM

  Three Rivers was the recipient of copious accolades for its highly creative approach. Vimeo Staff Pick, winner of “Best New Creative Advertising Piece” (Interference Festival 2015), and Official Nominee “Best New Italian Fashion Film” (Fashion Film Festival Milano) were just a few of the many recognitions it received. What makes this all the more impressive is the fact that director and editor were on completely separate continents during the production of Three Rivers. Times zones and physical distance made it nearly impossible to communicate in real time, which led to email being a primary source of communication. It’s a very modern way of making films and the results of Three Rivers makes the very idea of this seem counterintuitive…almost impossible but yet it is very much accurate. Lending to the argument that Three Rivers is literally a piece of art rather than just a promotion was its screening at the Italian Museum Triennale under the exhibition “Il Nuovo Vocabolario Della Moda Italiana” 2015-2016. This is proof that Three Rivers and editor Aaron Bencid can proudly and literally be referred to as art and artist.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 8.18.51 PM

Peter Hein talks editing content to evoke emotion

When most people hear the words “reality television,” they think of things like drama and excitement. They picture all of the supposedly unscripted, real-life situations between seemingly average, every day people that generate large followings and unprecedented ratings. What doesn’t typically come to mind, however, are the masterminds behind these shows. In particular, they don’t think of the editors who arrange the raw footage that they love so much into an ensemble that they tune into again and again, without fail. Without talented editors like Peter Hein, reality television wouldn’t be the adored genre that it is today and audiences wouldn’t likely love the shows they love as much as do.

The Danish native’s talents as an editor are profound. He has a keen eye for spotting quality storylines, but what’s more is that he has a unique affinity for identifying the emotional elements of those storylines that will keep viewers tuning in on a daily or weekly basis. In fact, extracting emotional elements from the footage he works on is one of the parts of editing that Hein loves most. He thrives on the opportunity that his job gives him to evoke an emotional response in his audience, and he considers working in his profession to be a dream come true.

“My favorite thing about editing is getting the emotions of the scene right – making those little last-minute tweaks at the end of an editing session to really hit your story home. Whether it’s to make people laugh or cry, it doesn’t matter. Simply getting those last frames right so that it affects the people watching in all the right ways. I also love seeing a story come together when you’ve crafted it from hours upon hours of footage. I enjoy finding all of those fragmented pieces that fit together to create a compelling story and then making sure it’s characters pop,” said Hein.

Hein has crafted more than just film footage, he has created a successful career out of his talents. He can be credited as one of the greatest contributors to wildly successful shows like Britain’s Got Talent and First Dates. Several of his works, in fact, have earned BAFTA awards; however, one of his greatest accomplishments was when he was nominated for best editing for an RTS award in the documentary category for Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew.  

In 2014, Hein was approached about the possibility of working on the show Gogglebox. The initial concept of the show left Hein skeptical; however, upon watching the first series, he realized the potential and humorous nature of the show. He knew that his skill set could enhance the show’s reach and he was eager to lend his authentic editing style where it was needed most.

Gogglebox is a British reality television show that airs on the popular Channel 4. It features a number of families and groups of friends from around the United Kingdom and documents their reactions to British television shows within the comfort of their own homes. Hein found the premise unique and thought that it would pose a new challenge in his career. The result of his contributions to the show were profound.

What Hein enjoyed most about working on Gogglebox was that it was unlike any other project he had ever worked on. The timelines were tight and the stakes were high. The footage for the show spans 24-hour days and Hein was trusted to arrange the footage in such a way that viewers couldn’t resist coming back for more. His ability to understand his audience and capture the elements of scenes that his viewers will enjoy highlight his prowess in the industry.

“The show runs like clock work and you only have a few days to put together a story about 5 or so families watching a show. You really have to break down the footage in order to bring out all of the details in the edit. All of the little reactions make the story work. You and your producer have to work really closely to sift through each and every frame. As you cut it down, you often go back and bring back sections that you had previously eliminated in order to slowly build the humor in the footage. It was hardcore to work on and it was an intense edit, but it was all worth it,” stated Hein.

Having collaborated so closely with his producer, Chloe Sarfaty, Hein was able to showcase his expertise in the best way he knows how. After witnessing his talents first hand, it is no surprise that Sarfaty was beyond impressed by is skill set.

“Peter was my editor on the BAFTA award-winning series Gogglebox. It was a fast turnaround edit but Peter works very well under pressure and being the brilliant editor that he is, he knew exactly ho to build each story. He has a wide range of skills that make him excellent at what he does. He is strong editorially and he works very quickly, on top of being incredibly creative and a pleasure to work with. We worked very closely together on Gogglebox and that is a very high pressure edit to be in but even under all of the pressure, we had a ton of fun and created some excellent episodes. Peter is an asset to every team and anyone would be lucky to have him on their production,” noted Sarfaty.

Because editing is Hein’s passion, he is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that he carries everything he works on along a path of success. He is grateful to do what he loves for a living and any recognition he receives is simply a bonus. When the series won a BAFTA award, Hein remained humbled by the hard work and dedication he put into it and was pleased that he and his co-workers had accomplished more than they had set out to achieve.

As for Hein’s future, he aims to continue to decorate his career with more award-worthy content and develop himself to even greater lengths than he has already achieved. He hopes to embark on new challenges and continue to bring about his audience’s emotions in ways that they don’t often expect before absorbing his projects. He is an avid editor and he will continue to share his greatness with the world as long as we will allow him to.

Editor James Ralph is indirectly responsible for success of superstars with work on ‘X Factor’

As a child growing up in London, England, James Ralph wanted to be a chef. He enjoyed the creativity that came along with cooking, being able to create something amazing from simple ingredients. During this time, his hobby was making videos with his friends. As he grew, he started to realize the parallels between cooking and filmmaking. Both involve a high level of creativity and natural instinct, and both are their own forms of art. It was this realization that made making movies turn from a hobby to a true passion, and changed Ralph’s life.

Now, Ralph is one of Britain’s most celebrated editors. His work throughout his country’s television industry is iconic, putting his touch on the nation’s most popular shows. Working on series like Love Island, Britain’s Got Talent, 24 Hours in A&E, The Voice UK, and many more, Ralph has made quite the name for himself. This all truly began with his work on the immensely popular singing competition The X Factor.

“It’s amazing to think that over the years working on this show, I have had a hand in editing the auditions of artists who have gone on to enjoy massive worldwide fame. Early One Direction solo auditions, JLS, Little Mix as soloists and when first together amongst others. It gives me a real sense of achievement to think that, although they’ll have absolutely no idea who I am or what I do, I have in my small way played a part in their journey to superstardom,” said Ralph.

Having worked on the show since 2008 when it began its fifth season, Ralph is acutely aware of how to make the show a success. He brings a consistency and deep understanding of the show and how it works best. He has been involved in all stages of the editing process, from the initial auditions, to arenas, boot camp, judges houses, and the live shows. His extensive experience on the show and his vast understanding of its many elements has meant that he has a senior role, working as a lead or finishing editor. He knows the look and feel better than almost anyone, and without him, the show may not be what it is today.

“What I love about working on a show like this is that it’s a real test of all my skills as an editor, but also because it is transmitting weekly, you are working on something, that is getting real time feedback from the press, the public and social media. A really successful audition can become a real water cooler moment where it seems like everyone is talking about it, and that is a great feeling,” said Ralph.

From the beginning, Ralph is heavily involved in editing the audition stage of the show. He spends weeks going through all the footage from each audition, figuring out exactly what should be highlighted. Once episodes have been cast, he crafts every audition, ensuring to tell each story fully, maximizing the potential of each act. He also has to connect each act, and building the bridges and connections between them takes a great deal of time and skill, as viewers need the entire show to be seamless. According to Ralph, the choice of music and the pacing of the stories is so important in making the most of every scene. Simon Cowell is also highly involved in the process, and Ralph sends edits to him regularly for feedback. Ralph’s editing skills are vastly appreciated by all who work on the show.

“James is a pleasure to work with. Over the years numerous Series Producers and Edit Producers have worked alongside him and the feedback is always extremely positive. James is someone we try to book as an editor for the show every year, he is very much a part of the core edit team. We also work very long hours and James will never lose his sense of humor and always has a smile on his face,” said Ashley Whitehouse, Series Producer. “James is a very creative editor who can work extremely well under pressure, often cutting to very tight deadlines. He is a great editor when it comes to telling emotional stories, but equally skilled when it comes to cutting comedy. James is also very accommodating when working with junior members of the editorial team and will often help nurture less experienced producers. James is often used as a ‘finisher’ on our shows too, great attention to detail.”

Ralph takes a great sense of satisfaction from the fact that his work is not only appreciated by colleagues, but also fans. The show is consistently popular with the public and press, with extremely high ratings and award wins. When a fan retweets an audition, or likes a video on YouTube, they may not realize they are congratulating Ralph for a job well done.

“I love working on this show for a number of reasons. It’s a heady mix of intense pressure to deliver against deadlines for transmission, super creativity, and the chance to work on discovering acts that have gone on to become some of the biggest global acts in recent years. I have been involved in all areas of the edit from the opening sequences, pre-titles, guest artist videos for people like Katie Perry, Robbie Williams to actual parts of the show, live show videos as well as lead and finishing editor roles. There isn’t really a part of the editing of the show that I don’t know about,” he concluded.