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First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors Paperback – 18 Oct 1995
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"This superb collection of interviews illuminates the art of film editing with a level of detail and insight that few previous books have possessed. . . . Through descriptions of the cutting of key sequences in films directed by Coppola, De Palma, Forman, Pollack, Lumet, and others, Oldham's interviewees reveal not just the mechanics of cutting shots together but also how an editor is guided intuitively by the 'inner rhythm' of a sequence. . . . This book is indispensable for all those who wish to deepen their understanding of the editor's contribution to film structure."--Stephen Prince, "Film Quarterly
About the Author
Gabriella Oldham is a freelance writer. Her books include First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors (UC Press), and Keaton's Silent Shorts.
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When I first read Final Cut, it amazed me - I was expecting discussions about directors' visions, the personality stuff that constitutes much writing about the creative process. Instead I discovered a series of interviews which revealed how films are actually put together. Not the technical business, but the process of discovering how to tell the story for each particular film.
The interviewees in this book, which include Paul Hirsch (Star Wars, Taxi Driver), Dede Allen (Dog Day Afternoon) and Sheldon Kahn (Ghostbusters), describe in direct, unpretentious terms how these movies were put together, and what creative decisions were taken to "get it right".
If you're interested in how films are made, this part of the process is essential to come to grips with. However, it is almost universally left out of DVD extras and directors' commentaries, and with good reason - as a spectator sport it's a dead duck; it involves a lot of talk about intangibles; and editors themselves are generally not forthcoming. Mainly, it's a mystery.
Indeed almost all of the editors here find it very difficult to articulate what is essentially a non-technical art. What they offer though is the insight that it is in the editing room that the most film-specific part of filmmaking happens. It's where the film takes its proper form in time.
Whether you're a film buff hunting for anecdotes (the book has them in spades) or are interested in post production as a career, this is about as good a book as I've yet discovered.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I hope they come out with a second edition. Us editors, at least those worthy of a inclusion in a book, really do have some interesting things to say.
I'm kind of bummed at how expensive it is. 25 bucks is ludicrous for a trade paperback.
Unless you're a diehard cinephile or a professional editor, this might not be the book for you.
But still definitely recommend.
A really useful book on the various approaches people have on editing and what their working methods are. Comphrehensive interviews from people who have worked on films such as Ben Hur to documentaries. Those who enjoyed this book should also have a look at Vincent LaBrutto's 'Film Editing'.