5 Reasons Directors
Need Editors

By Christian Bell

With the ready availability of cheap, accessible editing solutions these days many new directors are encouraged to take a DIY approach to editing.  After all, all it takes is a cut here, a wipe there, credits and fade out.  Anyone can do it, right?  Sure.  Anyone CAN edit, in as much as anyone CAN paint by flinging colours onto a canvas.

As the director, to do it yourself is to rid the production of what could be one of your key collaborators.  The editor brings much more to the table than just the ability to work the software.

A Fresh Perspective

They won't have been on the set everyday labouring over each and every shot or have spent hours into the night finding that perfect line of dialogue.  To the editor, your footage is just what it is and no more.  They will see it with a clear eye and with none of the baggage that the director might bring with them.

Introduction to EditingRuthlessness

You need someone heartless in the editing suite.  Someone ruthless and cold blooded who is not afraid to throw out anything that doesn't serve your story.  As the director, that someone is certainly not you.  That beautiful shot, that brilliant line, if they don't work they have to go and you will need someone with the strength to cut it.

New Ideas

The editor wont be locked into your way of thinking.  They will likely see possibilities in the footage that you might overlook.  All the editor sees is what WAS shot, not what you intended to shoot, what you think you shot or what you or the writer wrote.  In short, the editor sees what the material COULD be as opposed to what it was MEANT to be.

Four Eyes are Better Than Two

As previously stated, the editor is one of your key collaborators and possibly one of the most important in deciding what ends up on the screen.  You need someone to bounce ideas off, to experiment with and to tell you when your ideas don't work.


Editing yourself carries the same issues with it as acting as your own DOP.  Simply put, your focus wont be where it is needed.  You may find yourself tackling technical issues when your sole concern should be the story.  Having an editor leaves you able to lay aside all technical concerns and keep your mind where it should be.

An editing mentor of mine once compared the making of a film to the construction of a building.  Pre-production he saw as the drawing of the blueprints, production was acquiring the raw materials and post-production was turning the materials into a building.  While this comparison may belittle the production stage somewhat, it does have a valid point.  Your footage on it's own is as much a film as a pile of bricks on a construction site is a building.  As much a painting as a few tubes of acrylics and a blank canvas.  Anyone can lay the bricks but it takes experience to make the building stay standing.  Anyone can apply the paint but it takes an artist to combine the colours and lay the lines to create beauty.

Short and simple: Directors need editors.

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About The Author

christian bell

Christian Bell is an experienced editor who learned editing from the ground up.  From making many shorts and features in his teenage years and awkwardly editing them with two beat up VCRs, he advanced along with editing technology as editing packages became more accessible and affordable but never lost the discipline that primitive editing methods taught him. 

Christian has worked for a number of post houses around London and has now teamed up with Raindance to offer a range of post-production solutions.  For further details see here.



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Directors Need Editors