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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’

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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

Shaan Memon writes of the harms of bullying in new film

Article05-pdsdocu02Shaan Memon believes a film is made three times. At first, it is the writers; they are responsible for visualizing the tale in their mind and creating the characters, personalities and setting. Then comes the actual filming process, which is at the hands of the directors; they see the script and turn words into worlds that will transport audiences from their seats to another reality. Finally, the editors have the responsibility to turn shots into a story; they put everything together in a way that flatters the actors, compliments the set, and captivates audiences. As a true film lover, when Shaan was choosing which path to take in filmmaking, these roles all spoke to him, and he decided to pursue all three. As a celebrated writer, director, and editor, Shaan is showing not just his home country of India, but also the rest of the world, what he is capable of.

No matter the medium or genre, Shaan’s understanding of filmmaking is outstanding. Whether making a commercial, like the ones he recently did for Dickens Fair, a documentary, such as Purpose Driven Study for Dharoi Canal Command Area, or films like his new drama Fitting In and the acclaimed The Unreal, Shaan’s talents are on full display. He is a consummate professional, consistently impressing audiences and peers.

“Unlike so many, Shaan knows what is important to the production of film. He listens to advice, eagerly pursues the best, and delivers. He’s quite professional. He’s definitely a man of his word. When he says he will get the job done, he gets it done,” said Doug Campbell, Director.

Article02-bullied02Last year, Campbell consulted Shaan while writing his film Bullied, a story of a gay teenage boy who is being bullied by a gang of older boys in his high-school and living with his single mother. He decides to take revenge by killing the leader of the gang. On the verge of executing his plan, he remembers his mother’s words of wisdom.

“Many that have been bullied commit suicide or go through a lot of mental stress and it affects their health and career hugely. This story teaches not to take revenge. It takes a lot of courage and many times we have to face huge losses. This movie teaches the path to redemption with being responsible, smart and courageous. I think this story is very important in today’s world,” said Shaan.

Shaan was inspired to write a story about bullying after experiencing it first hand in his first semester of University in India. He was brutally bullied by senior students who were politically very powerful. Under such circumstances, he had no one to turn to, as everyone was intimidated by such influential people. He struggled a lot, and experienced anxiety from the events for three more years. However, he did not let the experience break him, and he decided to write this script to encourage a positive outlook for victims, showing the value of life beyond bullying.

“It was a great experience sharing each other’s experiences and learning from this. I found out that the problem of bullying is much larger than we think, and a lot of people need help with this. Helping people and making positive changes in someone’s life gives me satisfaction, and that is what I liked about working on this project,” he said.

While writing the script, Shaan researched online, in books, and travelled to many schools to talk to students who had been bullied about their experiences. He also talked to teachers and staff to see what the repercussions and protocol were in such situations. He found that an overwhelming number of students in the LGBT community experienced bullying every day, and therefore wanted his protagonist to be homosexual to show the reality of what these students face. He wanted their stories to be heard and displayed as authentically as possible, so he rewrote his script dozens of times while consulting with various filmmakers and victims until it was perfect.

Article02-Bullied03“I wanted to convey my thoughts and tell these stories to the viewers as truthfully as possible, as I had imagined them in my mind. I never start a project until and unless I want to convey something through that. This script is near to my heart as I had struggled a lot for several years. I had a lot to show and say about my experience. I did a lot of research, writing and rewriting to create a powerful script with a good message. And I hope once this film is made, it will help a lot of people,” said Shaan.

Currently, Bullied is still just a script, but Shaan is looking at making it into a film in the near future. Despite this, however, the film has already received attention from many film festivals based on the story. It was an Official Selection at Oaxaca International Film Festival, Mexico, where it was nominated for Best Emerging Writers Award and Best Overall Script, an Official Selection at the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, Atlanta, where it was nominated for Best Short Script Award, and a Semi-Finalist at the Oxford Film Festival where it has been nominated for Best Short Screenplay.

“It is incredibly satisfying that the script alone is receiving so much attention, because this is not just a film; it is my small effort to spread positivity in this world. I hope that once it is made, the film gets selected to more and more festivals and a huge number of people watch it, because my main goal in making it is to spread awareness. The medium of filmmaking itself is very powerful and it has magic to move people’s heart. If used properly, it can create wonders, and that is exactly what I am trying to do here,” he concluded.

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(By Kelly James)

An editor can be a director’s best friend. Those who fill either of these roles on a production give a nod of acknowledgement to this statement. Editor Shiman Hu is an in-demand professional in the film industry and a highly valued collaborator on many a film set due to her understanding of this symbiotic relationship. As with any mutually beneficial partnership, an altruistic approach serves the entire group best. Producer Li Yuan (who worked with Hu on the film “Plus Slash Minus +/-“) extends that idea professing, “Shiman is the kind of editor that every producer and director wants to work with. She understands the storyboard and the director’s vision thoroughly. She completes a film not just by telling the audience what’s literally in the screenplay but by emphasizing the director’s theme with her excellent ability to combine different camera movements visually with editing rhythm. It sets up a tone which is exactly as the director desired.” This praise is vetted by the recognition which “Plus Slash Minus +/-“ has received such as being an official selection at a variety of film festivals like the Los Angeles Film Awards, Gold Movie Awards Goddess Nike, Top Shorts, and the South Film and Arts Academy Festival. The story of a very real life drama (inspired by true events) and the skill with which it is presented have made it a favorite of pubic and peers.

As the title infers to astute viewers, “Plush Slash Minus +/-“ is about dealing with the unexpected. It’s the story of Cathy, a promising high school teen on the surface but one who has felt the challenges of her single parent home. Now faced with an unplanned pregnancy, she insists on giving birth to her child regardless of everyone’s objection. Endless fights escalate in her life causing more drama that has driven both mother and daughter to the edge. Cathy’s immature boyfriend, her mother’s temporary lover, everyone is passively involved in this drama but are resistant to witnessing the birth of a child and continuation of a perceived cycle of struggle.

Hu worked with the other filmmakers under the concept that the film be presented in a stark manner, almost more as a documentary than a piece of fiction. Refraining from beautiful, wide sweeping cinematography shots/framing and the use of vibrant color, the story appears visually natural and realistic to drive home the idea that in real life things are not always attractive and pleasant to deal with. An underage girl with an unexpected pregnancy who looks to be repeating the difficulties her own mother faced; it’s not the typical escapism or overly grand super heroism that seem to be most easily digested by many viewers. Cathy proposes to the father of her child that they leave town together. When he refuses, she returns home only to find cigarettes, alcohol, and an instable financial situation to greet her. Chaos is the pervasive theme throughout the film as this young woman faces a very real and all too common occurrence in life.

Many times, the effect that the director desires on screen is most accurately realized in the editing process. Shiman embraces the opportunity that her role affords her in films such as “Plus Slash Minus +/-.” In a pivotal scene that redirects Cathy’s attitude and feelings towards her own mother, Hu was able to intensify the action filmed for the scene. When the mother’s boyfriend knocks Cathy down, the matriarch leaps to her defense and brawls with him to protect her child. Shiman used effects during this scene with Cathy’s POV shots to exhibit that she had been stunned by the force of the boyfriend’s assault, conveying the intensity and true harm caused.

Music is often the guide which lights the path for the audience, making the emotional journey more accessible; Shiman is an enthusiastic fan of its use. When Cathy discovers she is pregnant by using a home pregnancy test in the bathroom, chaotic music accompanies her. After the fight scene while mother and daughter cry together, a sole piano melody magnifies the moment. At nearly every emotional turn, the editor has inserted the appropriate musical accoutrement to assist the viewer in fully experiencing the moment with the characters of this film.

While she doesn’t refuse work in big budget feature films, Hu relates that she finds film like this one to be among the most important for her to be a part of creating. She notes, “This is one of the most challenging types of film to create. I’ve never edited a film with such a realistic theme before. It’s closer to the theme of a documentary and discusses a hot topic which many people are concerned about. I needed to arrange the image language to tell a complete story. The film was made up of many shots and every shot had many takes, especially the fighting scenes. I tried a lot of different ways to show this scene until finally determining the most perfect way to present it. It’s sometimes a difficult process but this is where the expression and creativity comes in to play. This difficulty comes not from the special effects but in regards to the existing footage’s ability to tell the whole story and cutting through the shots to emphasize the sense of rhythm; it’s a very important part of the work and a part which I love.”

Editing truly allows one to bring a very big change to a movie. Without a great editor, even the most beautiful footage can be useless. The final presentation of a script is about eighty percent related to the editor. An editor is like a magician; they can transform even unsatisfactory footage into something quite meaningful. They can make bad shots disappear and unplanned ones seemingly congeal out of thin air. Magic hands like those of Shiman Hu are to be respected, valued, and congratulated.

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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.

Editor Minghao Shen helps terrify audiences in award-winning horror flick ‘Emily’

Growing up in Beijing China, Minghao Shen always loved film. Unlike many who enjoy watching a movie, he would think about how it was being made. The details behind how each scene was put together were what captivated him; he wanted to be a filmmaker. Eventually, the nuances and strategy behind editing caught his attention, and he knew that was where his future was. Now, he is an internationally celebrated editor.

Shen has worked on countless critically-acclaimed projects, earning him a reputation as one of China’s best recent film editors. His work on films such as Inside Linda Vista Hospital, Stay, Cartoon Book, and Red String has allowed worldwide audiences to see what he is capable of, showing without a doubt why he is so respected in the industry. His work on the horror film Emily perfectly encapsulates what the editor is capable of.

“It is a simple but tense horror film. The movements of shots and the whole visual style are really outstanding. I knew that there would be challenges, but that it would be a great chance for editing,” said Shen.

The film tells the scary story of a woman named Emily. Emily dies giving birth at home after her husband, John, abandons her. However, she will have her revenge from beyond the grave when she returns as a ghost set on killing her widowed husband.

“My favorite part of the whole production was talking about the story, because we found out that there were multiple options would work for it. Although each of the options would have been great, but couldn’t mix them all together, otherwise the tone would be chaos. As an editor, having to narrow this down and figure out how to properly tell the story and convey the right tone was great,” said Shen.

Shen’s instincts proved to be spot on, as Emily went on to do very well at several prestigious film festivals. It was an Official Selection at the Los Angeles CineFest, the SoCal Creative and Innovative Film Festival, the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival, the Action on Film International Film Festival, the California Independent Film Festival, and the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. It won Best Overall Micro Film at the Indie Gathering International Short Film Festival and at the Accolade Global Film Competition it won the Award of Excellence.

“I had many complex feelings when I discovered the film was getting a lot of awards. It was a blend of excitement and satisfaction after the hard work everyone had done. We know that we took a bunch of time and work on the film, so I was so glad that our hard work got such encouragement from the festivals,” said Shen.

None of this could have been possible without Shen’s editing talents. He spent his time taking notes every time he met with the director, ensuring he still achieved the vision of the film while bringing his own touch to it.  After the first rough cut, there were a lot of points that needed to be ironed out and redone, but based on notes he did originally, it greatly assisted to the time it took.

“Horror film is always about beats, so the director worked really hard with me to specify each second to make the film the best,” said Shen. “I talked with the director about our thoughts and he trusted me for the style based on my previous experience. There were always some different editing choices between me and the director. He is a talented and continuously brainstorming how to make the film better, so I always let him know more than one choice to let our minds be more open, so that we could avoid some useless change and waste of work time. We actually had some different thoughts in some parts. After a lot of meetings, we finally compromised our differences and both of us thinks this made the finished product better than what just our own ideas would have.”

The director, Jun Xia, agrees, and knows that without Shen his film could not have achieved what it did. The two have worked together on multiple projects since Emily, and Xia knows that Shen’s talents are essential to making a good film.

Minghao and I had worked together for a few times before, and he is always a good listener. He can take feedback and produce more ideas all the time. Minghao is an experienced editor. We talked a lot about a lot of different ways to make Emily better, and it did. He can always come up with unique thoughts when it comes to editing,” said Xia.

Everyone that works with Shen is continuously impressed by his editing skills. Without his work on Emily, audiences may not have been on the edge of their seats, terrified about what would happen next.

You can watch Shen’s impressive editing work on the short film Emily here.