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Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors, 1st Edition

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Art of the Cut provides an unprecedented look at the art and technique of contemporary film and television editing. It is a fascinating "virtual roundtable discussion" with more than 50 of the top editors from around the globe. Included in the discussion are the winners of more than a dozen Oscars for Best Editing and the nominees of more than forty, plus numerous Emmy winners and nominees. Together they have over a thousand years of editing experience and have edited more than a thousand movies and TV shows. Hullfish carefully curated over a hundred hours of interviews, organizing them into topics critical to editors everywhere, generating an extended conversation among colleagues. The discussions provide a broad spectrum of opinions that illustrate both similarities and differences in techniques and artistic approaches. Topics include rhythm, pacing, structure, storytelling and collaboration. Interviewees include Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road), Tom Cross (Whiplash, La La Land), Pietro Scalia (The Martian, JFK), Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant), Ann Coates (Lawrence of Arabia, Murder on the Orient Express), Joe Walker (12 Years a Slave, Sicario), Kelley Dixon (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead), and many more. Art of the Cut also includes in-line definitions of editing terminology, with a full glossary and five supplemental web chapters hosted online at This book is a treasure trove of valuable tradecraft for aspiring editors and a prized resource for high-level working professionals. The book’s accessible language and great behind-the-scenes insight makes it a fascinating glimpse into the art of filmmaking for all fans of cinema.

By Steve Hullfish Routledge 282 pages | 50 B/W Illus. Paperback: 9781138238664 pub: 2017-03-03

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Editor Bios 1. PROJECT ORGANIZATION Introduction Cards on a wall Project Organization Scene Bin Organization Scene Bin Organization with JPEG Markers Selects or KEM Rolls Sequence Organization Organizing a Timeline Layout ScriptSync Conclusion 2. APPROACH TO A SCENE Introduction Screening Dailies (Rushes) Watching Dailies Backwards Finding a Starting Place Fast and Rough to Start Using Select Reels Conclusion 3. PACING AND RHYTHM Introduction Pacing is Musical What Determines Pacing? Letting it Breathe Pacing Due to Screen Size Conclusion 4. STRUCTURE Introduction Length of First Assembly Working the First Assembly Hitting Beats Structure Intercutting Killing Your Babies and Eliminating Shoe Leather Screening First Assembly in TV Conclusion 5. STORYTELLING Introduction Editing is Foundational to Storytelling Speaking into the Script Character Perspective Structure A Student of Story Conclusion 6. PERFORMANCE Introduction Editing as Stewardship Finding the Performance Performance that Tells the Story Shaping Performance Editing Bracketed Performances Using Audio from Different Takes than Picture Split Screen: The Invisible Weapon Performance Needs Context Conclusion 7. SOUND DESIGN Introduction Sound to Sell Visual Edits Selling the Environment Collaboration with Sound Team and Assistants ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) Conclusion 8. MUSIC Introduction The Purpose of Temp Music Choosing Temp Music Cutting Without Temp Songs and Diegetic or "Source" Music Temping a Franchise Film Using Score Conclusion 9. COLLABORATION Introduction Landing the Gig Styles of Collaboration Notes Social Skills Don’t Edit the Way you think the Director Wants TV’s Collaborative Environment Conclusion 10. DOCUMENTARY Introduction Schedule Approaching the Material ScriptSync Shot Selection Pacing and Rhythm Structure Sound Design Music Collaboration Notes and Revisions Miscellaneous Documentary Wisdom Conclusion 11. MISCELLANEOUS WISDOM Introduction How Did You Break Into the Business? Emotion Geography Learn From Your Mistakes How Do You Judge the Editing of Others?


Web Chapters


"The greats like Schoonmaker and (the late) Coates are here. But so are the current blockbuster cutters like Eddie Hamilton . . . their methods and style are as individual as the individual themselves. And you as a reader will find yourself muttering ‘Absolutely’ or ‘Nope…that does not work for me.’ And you find yourself seated at the table as this masterclass is going on. And it’s a really big freakin’ table." —Book Review, by Jonathan Dowler, Canadian Cinema Editors "Steve Hullfish has interwoven great swathes of interview and made them flow like a well-constructed movie. You get concentrated information fired at you from the most eclectic, dynamic range of editors from all genres, mediums and nationalities . . . Most editors, when asked how they do what they do (a question we are all perhaps a little tired of now) answer ‘Instinct!’ This marvellous book is the first I’ve read (sourced from many horses’ mouths rather than books written from a single perspective) to refute that. There are concrete techniques to learn here as well as aesthetic considerations that stay our hand or entice an ‘I’ and an ‘O’ on a favoured shot. There is something for every editor on every page whether they’re new to the industry or, like myself, with many decades behind me." —Book Review by Alan Miller, GBFTE’s First Frame, Spring 2018 Art of the Cut may indeed be the essential tool for the cutting room. Here is a reference where you can immediately see how our contemporaries deal with the complexities of editing a film. In a very organized manner he guides the reader through approaching the scene, pacing and rhythm, structure, storytelling, performance, sound design and music. I am placing this book on my shelf of editing books and I urge others to do the same. —Jack Tucker, ACE "In addition to having ready access to the experiences of so many editors in one volume, the book also makes great use of its formatting, structure and layout to enhance the learning experience and make sure you take away some practical wisdom." —Jonny Elwyn, Film Editor

About the Author

Steve Hullfish is a feature film and TV editor with credits including, "Courageous," "War Room," "Champion" and the theatrically-released feature documentary, "Clinton Inc." Hullfish is the author of five other books, including The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction and Avid Uncut. Hullfish also trains editors and colorists around the world.