Interview with editor Jordan Doig

  • When did you decide that you wanted to be an editor? Did you try your hand at any other type of filmmaking positions?

I started out as an editor after graduating from film school in Australia. Since then I have gone on to focus on animation, writing, and directing. I feel like editing sets you up to better understand all other aspects of film, you need to know pacing, framing, sound, color, and story. So any chance I have to get back into the edit suite these days and I’ll jump at it.

  • How do you prepare to start editing (organizing scenes, takes, files and folders)?

First step is place everything into scene/take folder. Good organizing makes for better creativity. Next step is to make sure you watch everything you have. I often find some real amazing moments when the actors believe the camera has cut.

  • How do you decide when/where to make a cut?

This is tough one to answer, I guess because it could be reliant on so many things. Sometimes it’s as simple as movement, other times you linger to make sure a characters emotion is resonating with the audience. Sound is also huge when trying to make a cut feel natural.

  • How can editing change the tone or emotion?

I feel like editing is the real creator of tone/emotion. With different pacing and shot choice you can easily make a drama into a comedy or a romance film into a horror. It’s all about deciding what to give focus too.

  • What kind of problems come up during editing?

I guess the biggest thing would be missing coverage or just wanting one more take. You’ll never find a project that covers everything perfectly. It’s the editors job to make sure the puzzle fits anyway, ha.

  • How does your work as the visual editor feed into the work of the sound editor?

This is a big one because there’s a real push and pull there. You can think you have the scene looking perfect with scratch audio but once the sound editor gets involved your timing could seem off or not fully utilized. Especially with horror, I found the sound editor really makes/
breaks the whole tension and suspense of the film. A great sound editor is such an important thing.

  • With all the adjustments, how much can a movie end up deviating from the original script?

Depends on the project. Some directors/producers will have everything story boarded and set in stone. Others will be more open and you’ll have more to work with. They both have benefits and disadvantages, sometimes the free for all gives you some nice creative freedoms and other times it’s a nightmare to pull a coherent story together.

  • How much creative input the editor has, or how do you get your director accept your ideas?

Well working with the director on this project was THE WORST! (because I also directed the film, ha) Which, after doing it with ’Susie’, I wouldn’t recommend. Because I wrote/directed the film, once I got into edit I feel like a lot of my decisions were made. This was to the detriment of the short because I wasn’t coming at the footage with fresh perspective. Luckily,
I had a producer, Ian McGuire, who really helped me get this thing to where it is. He had notes that just seeped so much more pathos/tension into the final edit. (He probably actually deserves this award but also too bad it’s mine!)

  • Were you influenced by any directors or film editors in the development of your craft over the years?

Countless but for this specific project we had some influences in mind for sure. We wanted this to have that 70s horror (Argento & Polanski) aesthetic to it. So we got these beautiful Canon Prime lenses (k35) and kept the camera quite still. Longer tracking shots and slow pans gave tension in edit more than a James Wan type jump scare (which I also absolutely love by
the way). We wanted shots to breathe and scenes to play out fully. Not the easiest task when you desperately want to keep the runtime under 15 mins, ha.

  • Quite a few directors that once they find their editor, that’s who they continue to work with. Do you find that that’s the case with you?

Well as I mentioned earlier, no. I have fired my editor (me). Or I will at least keep great producers around to make sure the edit can live up to it’s full potential.