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Film Editor's Lament

November 30, 1986

On the front page of Calendar recently there was yet another film director posed in front of a moviola (without any film in it, I might add), and the caption read: "Karen Arthur, considered one of the more passionate directors, editing her film, 'Lady Beware.' "

I see similar photos over and over again in articles about directors: David Byrne posing by a KEM "editing" his next film. Huey Lewis "editing" his next video, etc.

This is so unfair to people whose craft is editing. We never hear about or see them standing by these directors in any photos.

We are the ones who silently save films that are in trouble; films that need our specialized talents of rhythm and timing, knowing just where to cut or dissolve, knowing where transitions from scene to scene are effective, and what transitions to use.

Film editing is a creative job, as much so as directing, and it is a collaborative effort. The editor is the director's "backboard," to use a basketball term. He or she represents an objective backboard for the director to bounce ideas off, to help lay out scenes and shot setups, to make sure the director has filmed every angle and insert that is needed to make the film work.

What would "High Noon" have been like without Elmo Williams, or "Jaws" without Verna Fields? What would Frank Capra have been like without having been an editor?

It would be so refreshing just once to see an editor in a photo taken in the editing room, his domain, next to the director. The caption could read: "Karen Arthur, considered one of the more passionate directors, editing "Lady Beware" with the help of film editor ------."

I am not talking about equal billing here. I am just saying that a director need not be shown doing someone else's job.


Beverley Hills

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