Film School: 5 Problems In Student Films

Film School: 5 Problems In Student Films

Mistaking your own experience for cinema, and other pitfalls.

Sven (aka This Guy Edits) is an editor, and an educator with a focus on beginners. In his video Top 5 Most Common Problems with Student Films, he speaks to editor and educator Dr. Karen Pearlman, who identifies 5 key opportunities in ‘The Science of Editing’:

  1. Asking (and Answering) “What is this film about?” – spoiler: it’s not about the plot. “If you don’t know what your theme is, then you don’t know what your perspective is on it.”
  2. Repeated Emotional Beats – each beat should tell the audience something new, “the milestones of that emotional journey”. Nuance allows the audience to “change with” the unfolding of the story.
  3. Dialogue as Exposition – “work with actors’ actions more”; or, as the adage goes, “show, don’t tell”
  4. Casting and Performance – rather than trying to elicit a specific mood, find ways for “the actor’s body [to be] fully invested”
  5. Cinematic Empathy – the story should contain its own “emotional dynamics” and “rhythmic shape” – and it often helps when the editor isn’t the writer-director

One of Dr Pearlman’s techniques: a timed read-through of the script. It can help reveal or establish a “flow” – scenes should contract and expand in order to say just what they need to say. The flow should evolve from “Stagnant”…

Film School: 5 Problems In Student Films

… to “Dynamic”:

Film School: 5 Problems In Student Films

More editing school goodness at This Guy Edits YouTube channel.

Further Viewing

At the other end of the student (or, broadening out the category, up-and-coming) editor spectrum: perfectionism. Between documentarian James Jani, video editor Jordan Orme (Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Nike, Amazon Prime), and online video editor Hayden Hillier-Smith (MrBeast, Logan Paul, Sam and Colby), their videos have had hundreds of millions of views. Toward the end of their discussion about highly stylised storytelling on The Editing Podcast, James describes his breakthrough as learning “to be happy with 70%”, to which Hayden adds, “barely 100 people will notice… that last 30-20% of details”. They agree that their respective experiences have taught them that, as James puts it, the pursuit of “the best possible video in lieu of the emotional stress and mental fatigue” is, as Hayden describes it, “where you start breaking your mind on that detail that 99.9% of the audience won’t care about”:

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