Cut By Cut
Reviewed by Jack Tucker, A.C.E.
As one who teaches editing at several universities, including Long Beach State and UCLA, I am familiar with a number of books, both current and otherwise, on the subject. Some of them I have used in conjunction with my courses. Gael Chandler's book is a welcome addition to this library of editing lore. Besides describing the details of the editing process, the book also features many quotes and tips from established editors. Finally we have a comprehensive text on the subject for every student of editing, written in an understandable manner without sacrificing content. It is what God and DeMille intended.
I met Gael Chandler several years ago when she was teaching a Final Cut Pro class. She is a pioneer of electronic editing dating back to the Ediflex. After getting to know me, she asked if I would review a couple of chapters to the book she was writing, and give comment, on working on film since Film Editing on the Moviola is one of the classes that I teach. This I was happy to do and I allowed her to shoot stills of my editing equipment. Since that time I have been eager to see if the finished book would pass muster and I'm pleased to report that it does.
Beginning with her forward that describes the significance of "persistence of vision," the anomaly to which we all owe our careers, and continuing with Director Brian Levant's comment that "...editors are the most skilled, happiest people I've ever known," Chandler goes on to describe in detail our craft which she notes, "...is both magical and mundane." She demonstrates an extensive knowledge of the post production process.
The book is geared towards the beginning editor, but the more seasoned professional can still make use of its many charts and tables. The fact that she includes both film and video makes her book comprehensive. There is a lot of film information included that is not readily found anywhere else and for novice editors this is important.
In describing the three video systems (NTSC, PAL and SECAM) in a footnote she recounts the joke among the techs as to what each system represents. NTSC is Never Twice the Same Color, while PAL equates to Pay A Lot and SECAM is reduced to System Essentially Contrary to American Method. This humor adds to the readability of the volume.
Chandler also goes into why we make cuts, though many current filmmakers seem to think one should cut merely for the sake of cutting. She recounts the late Edward Dmytryk's comment, "...cutting should always be conceived to show the viewer what he should see at every point in the film." As anything we do in editing does, this book is written from the heart by someone who cares about the craft they have pursued for a lifetime.
For the beginner there is advice on how to find work, join the union and make contacts. She lays it out as methodically as she does the steps of the editing process and emphasizes that, "...it's not what you know, but who you know."
Gael Chandler sums it up beautifully with this paragraph. "Editing is not for the wimp, space case, or the indifferent. You need stamina and desire to see you through. Keep your passion for your career, loved ones, and pursuit of happiness in balance when following an editing path and you'lll be surprised where it leads you."