[Frame of Reference] with Editor Bledar Bujupi – @bledbujupi

Bledar Bujupi

Bledar Bujupi is a Editor based and working in Manchester/London UK, Bledar is from Kosova, where he spent most of my childhood. But due to war in 1999, his family had to flee the country and were moved to Cumbria, UK. Being only thirteen years old, Bledar continued his studies and then moved to Manchester to study filmmaking. Over the past 7 years he’s had the pleasure of working as an Editor on many projects for some great brands such as Lexus, Gillette, PlayStation, Castrol, Lamborghini, MediaCityUK, BMW Motorsport, M83…which he says has taught him a lot about short form (Commercial) and Film Editing.

What got you interested in editing?
I always watched a lot of films but never really paid any attention to the technical side of filmmaking, until one day when I had help to cut a documentary and trying to tell a story using images and Voice Over was a great combination of elements to give another emotional dimension to the whole piece. Then I started to watch back and analyse films that I really liked from Directors such as David Lean, Hitchcook and Spielberg. Creative, provocative and emotional editing is the one key element that they all shared and made me research/learn more about the subject of cutting films.

How did you get started in editing?
While studying in college, I was always passionate about working with computers and storytelling but never thought about what job I will be doing in 5 or 10  years time. One day I had to help my sister who was studying Directing at University with some technical issues with an editing software but ended up cutting for 2 days a 30 min Documentary and I really enjoyed the process of editing. A week later the Documentary (“Mrika’ Dir. Blerina Bujupi) was shown at the local cinema and it was the first time I saw how people react emotionally to a piece that you created. It was a great feeling that will ignite a passion about filmmaking and editing that one will lead to a full-time job in the film industry. From that moment I would do a lot of free jobs just to get practice at cutting and I can say it was close to a year before I started to get paid editing jobs. Jim Grainger (tutor) and Richard Griffiths (Director) were 2 creative people from a Film Course at the  Manchester College  which helped me alot when it came to cutting drama, because we would sit with Director Rick Griffiths for hours just cutting original drama that he shot over the past few weeks and with every new project I would learn new techniques on narrative editing.

What is your preferred NLE(s) of choice? Why?
FInal Cut 7 is the one software I have used for many years now and was hoping to continue to use it in the future but with the introduction of FCPX, I guess I will be looking to move away to Media Composer or Smoke 2013. FCP 7 is a great software and the one element I loved about it is its interface simplicity, it’s very intuitive and it has a lot of freedom to move the clips anywhere in the timeline/bins without worrying about the software messing up your project in any way. I have tried FCP X and it is great for editing a 3 min news report but I found it impossible to organise a short film project that has between 300-1000 clips, and I guess I was always looking for that freedom I had with FCP 7 where you had to do more commands/actions manually.

Give us a run through of your editing process?
I guess it depends on the projects but usually I would have a look at a script and any storyboard material supplied by the agency/director just so I familiarise myself with what I will be cutting. After I go through all the rushes, I will log and mark all the best takes and only then I can start to think about the first cut. I am a big fan of making sure all the media is organised because you have to always be prepared to go back through the raw rushes to look for alternative takes, so the more organised you are the faster you will find your solution to the problem.

What tips were you given that was really helpful?
I guess there were 3 tips that have helped me in my career. The first and most important tip came from the father figure in the editing world, Walter Murch. Emotion is the key to any edit, I guess we (Editors) all strive to make an edit work so that we can evoke an emotional response on the audience by using many techniques, whether its holding on a take for a long time on an emotional scene or using really fast cuts to evoke the sense of confusion and energy. These were all lessons I have learnt from reading and following Walter Murch and other editors. I guess I used to be always worried about the continuity on shots but the more I read and researched the more I realised that the goal in an edit is Emotion. The second tip was from my Tutor Jim Grainger who would said ‘If in doubt, cut it out’ I guess it’s a saying that is passed down from generations tutor to tutor but it is true! The third tip: Buy a Wacom tablet, it may sound simple but it has sped up my work by 70% I can safely say! It feel like you are physically cutting the film strips and moving things around the sequence with your hands, it is a great piece of kit and tip that i would recommend to all the editors.

How organized are you?
If I had 2 days to do an offline cut of a TV advert, I would happily spend most of day 1 just organising rushes and scenes because it is such a great help to know where everything is and once you start the edit, the last thing that you want is to stop this creative process just because you can’t find a shot!

I would like to say that I am organised and try to be as much as I can depending on the time given on an edit but I strongly do agree that being organised is a key part of the process in this industry. If the project and media is not organised the whole workflow could fall apart and I would compare that to starting to build a house but without building the foundations, the whole project will collapse and sooner or later you will have to start again from the beginning.

Can you work without a script, finding the story and building it on your own?
I think its great to have a script and a storyboard but on 90% of my edits I never stick to them. Its impossible and there is only so much that you can plan in pre production, but when it comes to the shoot, things will happen and you will find shots/happy accidents that will work better than the storyboard. So I would say the script helps me to create the first cut but on most cases the end product will not follow 100% to the script. I think we (editors) are employed to fix a puzzle and some of the pieces we have to find and some we have to create ourselves using footage that would fit in well with the story of the piece.

What is your favorite film? Favorite Tv show?
I guess when it comes to favourite films I have a few! Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954) and David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia (1962) because of the story, character development and just great editing which is so well done and it never distracts or pulls you out of the story. Rodrigo Cortés “Buried’ (2010) I thought was a great piece of filmmaking because it is essentially a film about a guy in a box and how do you keep the viewer’s attention for 90 minutes using 1 location and 1 actor, it was an inspirational film from a technical aspect of filmmaking. As for the current TV shows HBO’s Drama ‘Game of Thrones’ is a great one to follow, I just love all the elements of cinematography, art direction, music and directing coming together to create this very filmic piece of work.

What style of editing have you done? (Narrative/Documentary/News/Corporate/Wedding/Etc)
I do prefer and have always done Film (Narrative) and short form Commercial style of edits over the past few years. I love being experimental and trying new things on different edits and I think films and 30 sec commercials can test you and give you that opportunity to try your ideas out be more creative than usual.

If you could meet any editor, who and why?
I guess I would love to meet Walter Murch and would have loved to meet Dir David Lean because of their philosophy on editing and explaining their thought process of cutting a film.

What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?
It’s not an easy one this! I guess most of the time the main problem here is the script or you just need a break away from your computer for 30 min! If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be scared to just try to follow your instinct and swap scenes around and do not follow the script structure 100% because the chances are there is a scene there that should not be there. Music is always a tough one, if your music is not right then the whole edit will not work, no matter how long you may spend on it!

Which plug-in(s) do you find most useful? Why?
I  don’t really use many plugins I have to admit, the one that was most useful was the Automatic Duck Pro Import AE 5.0 where I need to transfer rushes from FC to Aftereffects.

How does the director-editor relationship work for you?
It has always been a good relationship I have to admit, I like to get the Directors notes/feedback on what he want from an edit and then I will always do the first cut alone and will call him in for a preview and a fine-cut after I am happy with the edit. I guess It something that i tell them before we start the post production and they all understand that the editor need time alone to familiarise themselves with the rushes and what the solutions are for each project. By doing the first rough cut alone, I as a creative editor will have included my own thoughts, new shots or tweaked the story structure of the film to what i  think works best, because most of the time you as the editor will see shots that the director will not know he shot or happy accidents that will work with the project very well.

How do you deal with problem clients/directors?
You have to have a good balance when it comes to these situations, I think it depends on the individual case but more than often the clients are not filmmakers themselves and may not understand why we had to cut from this to this or why we used this take instead. But as long as the director and myself point out and justify why we think this take is better than this other one, then it is the clients call who has to make the decision on which take to use! And you have another extra solution here because  now with all the editing done in a computer you can always duplicate an edit and name them V1 Directors cut & V2 Clients cut so this way they are both happy.

What’s your overall philosophy about editing?
As Walter Murch said I believe ‘Editing is a train of thoughts’ every moment you are looking to tell a story using images and sound. Audio is more important than the images on most narrative projects so be aware that you do not end you with amazing visuals but poor sound.
I avoid going to the set of any shoots because it can complicate your editing process because you will end up using shots that don’t work just because it took the director 3 hours to get that shot. So its good practice for an editor to keep a distance from the set and not be influenced by the problems they had during the production.

Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor?
I guess it may sound cliché but the more projects you cut the better and faster your skills will improve, another good tip is to know when not to cut! You will get projects when you will get tested and make sure you get used to the process of telling stories by images and achieving the emotional responses from the audience because on most cases it’s about knowing when not to cut and let shots breathe. Just because you are an editor it doesn’t mean you have to cut every second but make sure you learn the psychology behind achieving the correct emotional responses the film is asking for. After a while you will have achieved this gut feeling/gut instinct when to cut and when to hold on a shot but most of all enjoy and love what you do.

For more info on Bledar and to see some of his work, you can check out his website www.bledit.com or visit him on twitter @bledbujupi

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