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Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Clipping is a handy way to collect and organize the most important slides from a presentation. Beginning screenwriters are often wholly focused on launching their careers by selling a spec script to Hollywood. But quickly I realized that putting all of my eggs into the spec script basket was akin to my other brilliant plan of funding my retirement with lottery winnings. I decided hoping and praying was good enough for my retirement plan (yes, pity me) but not good enough for my screenwriting career. Looking back now at the making of my first two shorts, I keep thinking about what I learned from the editing stage on both of those films.
I work with editor Justin Lachance (who is amazing, by the way) and if you just listened in on our conversations when we’re working on a film, you’d swear you were eavesdropping on two writers hammering away at a story who both have an uncanny sense of visual storytelling.
The following are some of the lessons I learned from the editing phase on my first two short films. The page is somewhat forgiving of lengthier dialogue blocks but the editing suite sure is not. Most likely, the first thing you’ll uncover is you’re using too much dialogue overall by trying to solve all story problems through dialogue.
I’ve used dialogue to justify character behavior or story circumstances, but found that once we’re editing the film, those circumstances either hold up, or they don’t, based on everything else I’d built into the film to that point.
In future script editing, I’ll definitely think more about whether an image or an action can replace that type of dialogue and answer just enough questions to keep the story moving forward without getting bogged down in explanation. Easily one of the biggest head-shakers for me in the process of going from script to set to editing is how time seems to slow way down in a scene from one stage to the next. This is fine for first drafts but once I get into re-writing, I need to recognize that these scenes aren’t stand-alone and look at the script as a whole. Pacing can be improved dramatically in editing, but if the script is paced to move faster from the beginning, then the entire filmmaking process is built upon the strongest story possible. Dialogue – in terms of how a character speaks, as opposed to the meaning of what they’re saying – is one of those tough areas where you can’t be as sure when you’ve got it right as you can be when you’ve got it wrong. Unless you have a character that is known for their verbal acrobatics, most dialogue that differs radically from how an everyday Joe from your character’s world speaks ends up sounding fake and pulls the audience out of the story. Rules of grammar and polite conversation should be broken when that’s how people actually speak.
Beyond the initial stages of writing, I haven’t found reading my dialogue aloud to myself to be especially helpful. When hearing my dialogue, whether at a table read or at auditions, I worry less about when an actor trips over a word, since the material is new to them this is inevitable, but I’m more interested in phrases that sound out of place or dialogue that rings corny, cringe-worthy or like I’m just trying too hard. In my first short film, we ended up cutting a scene that we’d spent half a day shooting out of a three-day shoot.
That scene held one bit of information that mattered to me though – a story point that created a realistic portrayal of the main character’s occupation, a little truism that, as a writer, I cared about. It’s taken me two shorts to even begin to wrap my head around how much changes when you move from script to set to editing to a finished film.
And I’d love to hear in the comments below from those who have experienced having their scripts produced and what lessons they’ve learned from the process. Our goal as screenwriters is ultimately to have a completed film, not just a completed script.
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Everyone knows the actors, some know the director and producers and if you’re lucky you may know a writer or two, but no one knows the editors.

For this reason, there are two aspects to the Film Connection Film Editing School: the storytelling aspect and the technical aspect. Please review what you will learn by attending our film editing school with one-on-one instruction.
In this lesson, you will continue working on a rough cut and incorporate the techniques of cutting to music and narration.
In this lesson, you will further your command of the program by creating subclips from clips, adding Markers to clips, and using the Replace edit function. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of changing some of the motion properties, which includes speed, freezing a frame, and adjusting size and position. In your final lesson, you will cover how to export your cut in a variety of different ways. Coursework is delivered via distance education and completed at a location determined by the student. Film editing fascinates me because it reminds me very much of writing in terms of story development, structure and pacing. It’s because with an editor you’re building a story that left the written page behind and is now in a fully visual medium.
While we did find work-arounds for many of these in editing (and phew to that!), it’s always better to solve a problem in the script stage to give your film the best shot at being the strongest it can be.
There’s probably no better way to see how your dialogue plays than to shoot it and edit it. We’re always told show, don’t tell, but nothing drives that home more like watching the talking heads you’ve created blah, blah, blahing away. I’ll look for character traits that can be translated into a prop or an established behavior. In brainstorming ideas, I thought about the kind of man he was and his living environment and it didn’t seem unlikely that he’d want to protect himself – so I gave him a bat. A scene that felt pretty snappy on the page, might start to feel like it’s dragging on set and by the time it’s in editing, you have a snoozer on your hands. In my own writing, I’ve found there’s a warm-up process I go through when I write a new scene. I know the intent of every line and naturally build in inflections and emphasis that may not be warranted by the script itself. It had been the biggest scene in the film in terms of the time it took to setup, the number of actors and extras involved, and the details of set design and props.
But that’s it, a tiny nugget that would only matter to me and to the people who work in that industry, so the scene was of course cut.
These first-hand experiences that come with producing my own work are without question the most valuable lessons I’ve gathered for myself to date. You can adapt this lesson on directing your first scene to work with your own writing as well. It’s our responsibility to learn how our scripts can help the process go as smoothly as possible so we end up not just with films, but with great films, and maybe even that dress for the Oscars. If you’re digging ReelGood, sign up to our mailing list for exclusive content, early reviews and chances to win big!
Often considered just a film technician, a good editor is, without doubt, much more than that. You will learn how to edit your marked clips to the Timeline using the Overwrite and Insert functions as well as the drag-and-drop method. You will gain a better understanding on how to use the Selection, Ripple, Slip, Roll and Slide tools to adjust edit points.
You will learn how to create an online sequence, mix audio using the mixing layout, and perform basic color correction. You will export a QuickTime movie, QuickTime conversion, audio only, and learn how to export to tape.

This basically establishes the the shot, by including images inside the frame and then out to capture images outside the frame. Ex: A montage can include a series of smiling faces, but through the use of juxtaposition, the scene can appear very sad. I figured learning first-hand what makes a script work on film had to put me in a better position to write specs that could sell than just guessing how the page translates to the screen. If visual storytelling is what screenwriters are looking to achieve, then the lessons we take from film editing might be some of the best we can apply to our writing. I’ll add telling objects about a character into a scene or have her reveal a skill or a habit.
Making that one choice opened up ideas for new scenes and for using the bat symbolically in the film. I often over-introduce (in dialogue, of course!) who’s in the scene, how they are related, and why they’re there.
Would changing the order of two scenes eliminate the need to dutifully introduce characters?
Once I have a well-crafted draft, I’m a big fan of the table read for listening to your dialogue out loud. We cut it because we found in editing that it slowed down the pace of the film at a critical point and, ultimately, it didn’t seem to add anything new to the story.
But I will admit that when I watch the final film now there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I could have found a better way to include that story beat so I’d feel like I got all of my facts in the film just right.
I’ve seen them in action and the impact of having your writing put through the filmmaking process sinks in much deeper than second-hand knowledge ever could. Kim made her directing debut in 2012 with the award-winning, short supernatural thriller VIVIENNE AGAIN, and has since written and directed two more short films. While you apprentice (extern) one-on-one under a professional editor in a post production facility learning Final Cut Pro, you will also learn storytelling from our structured course curriculum for Producers and Directors. Furthermore, you will learn how to change Timeline parameters and adjust a clip’s audio within the Timeline and Viewer. In addition, you will work with adding cutaways or insert shots to your sequence with the drag-and-drop and three-point-editing techniques. You will also learn how to use the three different capturing methods: Capture Clip, Capture Now, and Batch Capture. Furthermore, you will learn how to apply video and audio filters to clips, copy and paste attributes, and add basic titles to a sequence.
It was a prop the actor could gesture with, making even the smallest moments more visually threatening, and without saying a word, an audience can infer a lot about a man who wields a bat. Don’t feel compelled to address every question that is posed to a character with a direct answer. Don’t put them in a scene that can be construed as throwaway or they probably won’t end up in the final film. It can help influence a certain mood or characteristic of a person, but most importantly delivers continuity.
And there are just so many metaphors you can shove into a character’s mouth before they sound unhinged.
It is no wonder that within the film community, a good editor is highly revered, and considered a magician with the power to make or break a film.

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