Editing 101: 5 Rules (11-15)
JJ Lask
Issue: August 1, 2018

Editing 101: 5 Rules (11-15)

JJ Lask is a creative editor with PS260 (www.ps260.com), which has studios in both New York City and Venice, CA. His list of credits includes work for M&Ms, NY Lottery, Yahoo, American Greetings, and UPS to name just a few. Each month throughout 2018, Lask will deliver ‘5 Rules’ that editors might consider for both practical purposes and inspiration. Here is his latest installment.

Rule 11 - The Client Couch Is Also A Therapy Couch

Bonding begins as soon as clients enter your edit suite. Clients will confess their virtues and their sins. Clients will recount their infidelity on the shoot, their expertise on the shoot, and their genius on the shoot. Just as it is your job to edit, it is your job to listen and not judge. Ironically, I would make more money if I were a therapist. 

Rule 12 - Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

Every time I’m editing and I happen to put the wrong clip into a cut, a piece of music in the wrong place or a title on a weird part of the screen, inevitably it is so much better than what was designed. So now I have allotted time to make mistakes. It is so important to have that extra day of editing to allow yourself to make mistakes. Exploration. 

Also, never have clients in the room with you during your exploration. Clients always say, “Let me hang out, I promise I won’t bother you.” They don’t mean to but they end up disturbing the whole creative journey because they always say things like, “Don’t worry about that take, we didn’t laugh on-set,” or “Don’t worry about that set-up, the lighting was wrong.” Get them out of the room and make mistakes. 

Rule 13 - Never Blink

In my entire career I have only allowed a character to blink once. Cut out the blinks. I have spent thousands of dollars in special effects to remove blinks. Blinking is weakness. Unless you want your character to be vulnerable, then by all means have them blink. But don’t overdo it. Characters on screen are larger than life; never let them be mundane with a blink.

Rule 14 - Cut For Maximum Emotional Value, Not Continuity

Continuity is dead and has been dead since Oliver Stone’s JFK and before that since Godard’s Breathless.

Rule 15 - Have A System  

And don’t just have a system, have your system. I approach every job the same exact way. 

Here are a few examples: I make my selects while I watch all the dailies. I watch my selects with various pieces of music. I make selects from selects. I have to label my bins and sequences in all caps, otherwise I actually can’t read it; my eyes have become accustomed to only all caps. I label all of my bins the same way every time. I don’t use colors or symbols. The Graphics bin is labeled GRFX, the music bin is labeled MSX, and the voiceover bin is labeled AVO.

I do the same thing every single time because it works for me. Find what works for you, and develop your system. 

To read more of JJ's tips, CLICK HERE.