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Editing- I don't know why but I can't stand it anymore

I'm an indie writer/director of photography who used to work as an editor- over the years I edited my own short films and the films of others, music videos, a feature, BTS- all sorts. Some of the projects I edited went on to win awards at festivals etc- so they at least had some merit.

My point is now- I've been working as a DoP for several years and haven't edited anything for at least a year.

I'm sitting down now editing a music video I shot for a client- and I have to say I feel like I am having a mental breakdown. I simply hate the editing process. I don't know what has changed because I can remember years ago loving the challenge of editing, loving the huge difference cuts can make to an edit, loving shot selection and structure etc.

Now I just fucking hate it- it just seems like an extraordinary amount of work, psychologically tiring, extremely slow to go through the rushes and slowly piece together an assembly edit, then go back and make a litany of new decisions, step by step slowly getting towards the "vision" I had when I shot it.

I.e. I can see the finished edit in my head, I know it's in the rushes; it's just excruciatingly tedious to go through the process.

Am I going mad? Or do other people feel like this? I just fucking hate it. Sitting in front of a computer and busting hours, wasting days in a dark room away from the world, just to get another verse and chorus vaguely in shape- it just makes my skin crawl.

  • hi Tom,

    Sorry to hear you are in a writers block can't say i always like what I m working on, spacial in advertising, but we all are working for something else then our work I think, some of us don't even know what, but the pleasure comes form finding out something new. just forget the edit you have in your mind and find something new in the rushes! scrap the notes!!! and start again with a open mind.

    7 months ago
    • Yeah man thanks for the response- I'm slowly breaking through the initial block- and getting more positive as I go!! Just needed to vent

      7 months ago
  • That must be one of the bizar'ist posts I've ever read one here? If you don't like editing then hire an editor. If for budgetary reasons you need to do it yourself... then suck it up. And if either of those two options aren't possible... you might want to think about another line of work? (I speak as someone who has shot and edited for 15 years and still love and both).

    7 months ago
    • Ah we did have another editor on this but the artist wasn't particularly happy, so I took it on-

      I think the project is slightly more painful because the shooting ratio was so high, and working with the rushes now I can see that I shot it in a slightly sloppy fashion- I knew I would get those brilliant moments but I also did a lot of running about to reframe etc. Which is painful to go through. We've got about seven different location set ups, three mini dance sequences- processing that psychologically into a cohesive whole means this huge bottleneck of contemplating everything you have and mincing it down into something structured.

      You are right though- fucking suck it up and DO IT.

      7 months ago
    • @Tom van den Broek
      I love this part, because the whole thing is probably going to make you a better shooter, and one that thinks more about the poor editor while they shoot!

      7 months ago
    • @ such justified impertinence- of course you are right. Probably the greatest lesson learned is not to be the one man band- so many takes would have benefitted from a dedicated director purely observing and guiding performance; while I was lighting and self-shooting (literally holding the camera) I missed things that could easily have been corrected (and more useable footage) in performance. There's a reason there are so many bods on set.

      If I remember I will post a link to the finished vid when completed.

      7 months ago
  • Sad to read this Tom. It sounds painful. I'm guessing we've all gone through something of this sort. In my case it was a writing block (now gone). The psychiatrists - I'm guessing - would cite stimulus habituation for this. Something like that anyway. So What to do? Winging in from left field I'd recommend a touch of mindfulness for this. It certainly won't do you any harm and might make all the difference. You could try my friend Gill Johnson on MindfulElephant.com

    7 months ago
  • LOTS of people hate editing; they tell me all the time. Which makes it one of the most sustainable jobs in film, in my experience...

    7 months ago
  • I've always edited my own work (respirofilms.com) and recently started to work as a freelance editor on the side and really love it. Of course, there are challenging and sometimes tedious moments depending on the material, but then, when it all suddenly fits into place, it feels effortless and almost mystical as if it was meant to be that way, even though there was a process to get there. Would love to edit for more directors, especially narrative projects, as it's mostly commercial for now.

    7 months ago
  • Tom it seems that something else happened in your life that changed the value you give to things. That is an evolution.

    7 months ago
  • Ah,Tom, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Editor.
    You’re right of course, long hours alone in a darkened room wading through a giant jigsaw puzzle, examining every piece and lots of them look the same and you've got no template other than the one in your imagination together with a set of written instructions.
    It doesn’t suit everyone and if you’re a keen DP then the jobs couldn’t be more different. I actually don’t think Directors/DPs should edit their own films, an independent Editor will look at the project in a different light and usually add some value. Sum of the parts and all that.
    And the Editor has the single most laborious task, no wonder most filmmakers can’t afford them as it takes too long and so they end up trying to do it themselves. You might get a DP to spare 2 or 3 days and shoot for free, but then 2-3 weeks to edit?
    But the prize at the end is making something out of nothing and that’s what gives me the thrill and makes it all worthwhile. Just sounds like you don't get the thrill anymore.

    7 months ago