Jack Newman is from a small seaside town in South Devon. One of those towns with nothing to offer for teenagers. “Fortunately I was given a camera to keep me busy. What kept me more busy though was the edit after each day of filming. I would see how I could make something nice to watch, using the correct timing and effects on the content. And I never stopped”.
What got you interested in editing?
Well, originally it was a necessity. Then I realised just how much opportunity lies within the edit. It’s a very cathartic process to refine something into a final product. It’s a way of making sense of our own thought processes.
How did you get started in editing?
It started when I made (terrible) videos with friends. I would spend a long time cleaning it up, making something to be proud of, but what was the difference between good and bad? The more I studied film the more it made sense. Film conventions had purpose and reason. And now I could articulate this. Then at university the discussions I had with my class mates allowed me to develop my own thoughts on film. All of this is articulated best within the edit suite, so i never left!
What is your preferred NLE(s) of choice? Why?
I primarily use Avid. I’ve had the good fortune to be trained by Avid to use it. The control you have, and have to use, is astounding. The export compression is so efficient that it’s pointless trying to .zip the file. And the colour correction tools provide you with everything you need, aside from secondary colour correction, which is theoretically possible with some good keying. Experimenting with that has taught me a lot about keying. Some one once said to me that if you learn how to use Avid, other editing softwares are second nature.
Give us a run through of your editing process
I use Avid so step one is import and wait. I’ll either choose the shots after or have them selected before import. I then make a rough cut with my preferred shots. I treat it like taking notes so I don’t always assemble the cut chronologically. Once this is done I go into refine mode and watch through the cut, see if the cuts work and if not I adjust or replace shots until I am confident in the sequence VFX. During this process if I have spare time I begin the colour grade to start realising the film world a bit more, it can change your choice of shot. Then if it’s my job I add the SFX at the end or during the cut as needed.
What tips were you given that was really helpful?
My tutor would tell me that working with a director is like being a psychotherapists. To be a good editor you have to be able to pick up on the directors intentions and feelings without them telling you directly. The theories of the psychoanalytic tie in deeply with film.
How organized are you?
I try to keep on top of things, and complete jobs as soon as I can, at least before the next project comes to bite me on the ass! I bought an iPad late last year and to be honest it does most of the organising for me. All my notes, emails, social networks are all in one place that I can carry around. As for my desk. I like to think everything has its own home, but it’s such a small desk, so it clutter very easily.
Can you work without a script, finding the story and building it on your own?
I actually prefer to work without a script. If I’m not in the same room as the director, then I might read the script beforehand. I think it helps build something a new audience can understand. I don’t keep shots in for the sake of the script, or a shot that took a long time to get. And often scripts can be stilted and impossible to comparable to the final performances.
What is your favorite film? Favorite Tv show?
Favourite Tv show has got to be Breaking Bad. Amazing character development, though I watch more cartoons, like the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, its pure insanity like Ren and Stimpy, they would never use the facial expression twice. Film wise I love Another Year by Mike Leigh, great editing and scripting.
What style of editing have you done? (Narrative/Documentary/News/Corporate/Wedding/Etc)
I have done narrative, corporate videos, music videos and weddings (never again). Obviously more a fan of narrative and music videos. Narrative allows me to discuss the theory of the edit more. Especially when editing animations. Music videos are just pleasing. They’re much more rigid edits, you have to cut to the beat a lot, but colour wise I have a lot more free reign.
If you could meet any editor, who and why?
Roderick Jaynes! Just like to meet the Coens really. Realistically, it would be cool to meet Jeffery Ford, the editor of One Hour Photo, and more recently Avengers Assemble. It was much like Lee Smith’s edit of Inception. Keeping a balance between several layers of dreaming, or in this case several layers of A-listers. The balance they struck was impeccable.
What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?
Keep a cool head and keep notes! I have searched for shots for hours before. And if it feels like you’ve watched it too many times, then step away. Go for a cup of tea, or sleep on it and come back tomorrow. It’s more worth your time. Especially sleeping on it. I swear my head solves half my edit problems when I’m asleep!
Which plug-in(s) do you find most useful? Why?
I mostly use Avid’s native tools, as they work so well! And match Pro Tools’ audio effects, so is best for my workflow. The majority of my downloaded plug-ins are extra QuickTime Codecs!
How does the director-editor relationship work for you?
It’s a different experience every time, but control wise I discuss which takes the director prefers and why (sometimes you have to make sure a director is definitely happy with). Then when it’s in the timeline, it’s my domain and although I experiment with the directors suggestion the final say is mine. I am open-minded with a lot of suggestions but when I know something doesn’t work I have to put my foot down.
How do you deal with problem clients/directors?
If things become confused or if the client is not being clear, I get them to step back for a second and start from the beginning. The key to the edit is communication and if that fails then so does the edit. If the client is unsure I help ‘guide’ them with suggestions on how it should be cut and then I often make it seem like their idea, everybody wins!
What’s your overall philosophy about editing?
Relax. If you make an edit under any other circumstance than this, then it will be compromised by your emotion. It’s the directors job to compromise projects with their emotions. Some drink to feel the emotion of the cut, but there are so many technicalities to be aware of these days!
Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor
Learn Avid, it’s scary but you’ll have a new appreciation for editing. And a much more in-depth understanding of how any editing software works.