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Chapter One. The Editor's Job > Where the Editor Fits In

Where the Editor Fits In

Once a film is shot, the raw footage is handed over to an editing team, which continues to revise and adapt the material, shaping it into its final form. The editor will make her own changes to the vision—sometimes out of necessity (for instance, compensating for shots that are missing or have technical problems), sometimes through her own creative artistry. The editor may change the order of the scenes or the shots within a scene. She may decide to omit a shot that tells the audience what to think, or she may add one that foreshadows a dramatic event.

Sometimes a story may even be rewritten in the editing room—which means everything from its basic structure to the emotional tone, the underlying theme, and the way the audience feels about the characters gets revamped. Although a well-directed film usually won't require such drastic restructuring, there may be ideas present in the material, latent in the script, or concealed in the director's unconscious choices that are invisible to either writer or director. Often decisions made in the editing room reveal elements previously undiscovered in the original story or shooting script. A great editor can sense these hidden themes and bring them to light.


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