The Art of the Edit

By Cory Angeletti-Szasz ● January 23, 2018 09:00

Five individuals sitting on a stage as part of a panel.

Panellists Yvann Thibaudeau, Matthew Hannam, Simone Smith and Andres Landau and moderator Sean Farnel at the Canada's Top Ten Film Festival Industry Forum.

On Friday, January 12, we spent the day at the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival Industry Forum at TIFF. The Forum explored a series of themes and topics relevant to today’s entertainment industry through five panels comprised of various screen industry professionals, including CFC alumni.

The third panel of the day, ‘The Art of the Edit’, provided insights into the editing process and featured two CFC alumni, Simone Smith (who edited Canada’s Top Ten official selection and alumni film Never Steady, Never Still) and Matthew Hannam (Swiss Army Man, Enemy), as well as editors for two additional Canada’s Top Ten official selections Yvann Thibaudeau (who edited CFC Features comedy Adventures in Public School), and Andres Landau (who edited CFC alumni Charles Officer and Lea Marin’s Unarmed Verses).

Film editors – described by the panellists as “a shrink for directors,” “a foil to the tendencies of the director,” “a politician,” and “the fifth Beatle” – do work that often goes unnoticed, but can drastically change a film. So the panel set out to illustrate, through case studies of the panellists’ work, how various editing decisions and techniques helped improve some of the productions they’ve worked on.

Mother and son face each other and dance at a home school prom.

'Adventures in Public School'

Thibaudeau, for example, spoke of his decision with director (and CFC alumnus) Kyle Rideout to insert clips of outer space throughout the entirety of Adventures in Public School (as opposed to only in the beginning of the film) to help with continuity and to tie back into the storyline that Liam (the main character) is a physics whiz whose goal is to study astronomy with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge. He suggested that simple editing tactics can often enhance the story (or fix something that’s not working) by adding elements that are not necessarily written into the script.

Hannam talked about how a lot of problem solving occurs in the editing room and how simple edits can dramatically change the storyline, “There’s a whole section in the middle of Enemy where we erased one guy and we were able to reorder the entire story to work so much better.”

A woman stands up to her chest in a lake.

'Never Steady, Never Still'

Up next, Smith discussed her work on Never Steady, Never Still (which just earned her a Canadian Screen Awards nomination for Achievement in Editing) and the deliberate cuts she made to landscapes and scenic shots as a way to help advance the narrative in a subtle way.

The final film that was explored was the documentary feature Unarmed Verses. Landau described his approach to editing this film as “showing not telling” – letting the images and the incredible footage captured by cinematographer Mike McLaughlin speak for themselves.

The panel closed with some insights from the panellists about how to go about establishing a relationship with a director you haven’t worked with before. Thibaudeau suggested you treat your first meeting like a first date: prepare, do your research on the director, watch their films, but once you start talking, you’ll ultimately realize if you click, if you have common ideas and whether or not you have creative chemistry.

PANEL # 1: Read our post (Ethical Programming and the Duty of Audiences) from the first panel HERE.

PANEL # 2: Read our post (The Rise and Evolution of Digital Content) from the second panel HERE.

PANEL # 4: Read our post ('Unarmed Verses': A Masterclass in Documenting a Community) from the fourth panel HERE.

PANEL # 5: Read our post (“It gets easier” and other advice from breakout Canadian directors) from the fifth panel HERE.

Looking for more insights into the editing process? Read about our master class with acclaimed editor Ron Sanders HERE.

Cory Angeletti-Szasz

Manager, Communications (Mat Leave)