What Film Editors Achieve: Servants of Difference, Messengers of Cohesion, Media, Society

I have to write to salute myself: for the profession in general and for three people in particular, it is meant to be about editors and film editors whose art and craft are at times still unrevealed in the public consciousness. They were called liberators, limiting their hands to scissors and cutting tumblers, as if “film tape” was nothing more than a rug that could be cut to a perfect fit. This picture wasn’t true even when in the silent film era, the kinescope was hand cut and then reassembled by so-called “gluers”.

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But I only learned to appreciate and know the diversity and complexity of the art of film editors when life took me to the editing room, the editorial suite, where I was supposed to paint a portrait of Angela Merkel. Half a dozen screens and digital editing software called Avid scared me. I felt like I was in the cockpit of a jumbo plane I was supposed to suddenly fly without any training.

Had it not been for editor Martin Schroeder, I would not have survived and would not have achieved, and this life-saving competence has since been applied to all editors I have had the opportunity to work with. With growing enthusiasm, I understood what they were achieving, what they could do, and the complexity of their work. The pastoral competence of saving lives, which I have personally experienced, also goes to the core of what they do, because editors save biographies, save stories from disappearance, and give face and voice to complex social developments.

Pictures that make a movie. Sandra Brandel wrapped up the scene in “The Unbending” when…Photo: SZ Photo

What are they actually doing? They examine and organize the material, which can be hundreds of hours of recent filming or archiving material, and they smell, touch, taste and feel where the story is, the emotion, the face, the aura or energy that emerges. So the editors are thin in the best sense of the word, they smell the golden content of the image. At the same time, they raise the single image, the frame, in a rhythmic, dramatic arc, dancing with their eyes and fingers while seated.

I was amazed that editors often make the music themselves, directing the composer (if any) and thinking about the music from the start, but also tone, voice and noise as an integral part of the film. The three editors who made our films breathe, Martin Schroeder (“Angela Merkel – In the Stream of Time”), Sandra Brandl (“Unbow”) and Andre Hammesführer (“Schwarz-Adler”) are hugely musically literate, and sometimes even ear handlers.

What they also have in common is that they are sometimes not quite accessible on average because they engage and focus on different paths of image and sound in a way that seems to me like Buddhist monks walking the Eight Paths of Meditation and Enlightenment. It is best to let it float. You get rich gifts if you let them roam. Editors are not executive bodies, they do not accept instructions, but for the most part ideas and, at best, form a unio mystica with the author, where the dialogue leads to the marriage of idea and reality, between spark and flight. That’s how I tried it.

Pictures that make a movie. André Hammesfahr was the editor of the documentary “Schwarze Adler”, which among other things …Photo: dpa

You draw a series of pictures, the editor also draws them. We dance to check: is it strong? Is this an alternative? Does this have a rhythm? Does it serve the story? Do you serve other arts such as camera, music and sound? And at the same time we think about whether this cut, this perspective serves the interviewee? Shall we sigh with us? Can we show when someone bursts into tears during an interview, as in “Schwarze Adler”?

Media ethics also means that editors think carefully about how they treat people. The person depicted, the interviewee, may not transform the original sound source into a thing and an object. One must, even if one does not share one’s view of the city, validate one’s own view and understand one’s inner view first before associating or relating it to conflicting views.

I think editors are rarely prone to conspiracy theories or populist simplifications because they see for themselves and know better the complexity of stories. They not only look behind the images but also test how stories are created in public or private broadcasters and what the principles of dramatic autonomy are but also the material it possesses and how power is spread.

political activity

Anyone who has spent a day in the newsroom will henceforth avoid a word like “false press” because they will realize that reality is never subject to the most manipulative will. In this respect, the editors’ activism is also notably political, because they are ultimately advocates of complexity and help us think and feel stories from multiple perspectives in the media’s echo chamber.

I bow to this profession and to the three “my” editors, whom – as strange as it may sound – I often think of them as a dialogue community, as an example of discussion with which I deal with stories in my head. They deserve all the attention, because they put themselves at the service of the interest of even the most distant stories and the quietest of people.

Your montage art is the art of making yourself invisible and serving other crafts and thus narration. Yes, I would go so far as to say that we need more editorial thinking, in everyday life and in increasingly coordinated television for public broadcasters, to transform the pastoral idea of ​​the beginning into social and political terms.

difference server

Editors are servants of difference and at the same time messengers of cohesion. Because they are empathetic, they are aware of the needs of others and fulfill their desires to appear and be represented. Especially now, when everyone is inclined to design the films of their own lives, on the platforms of harsh anagrams (Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram), their soul is worth its weight in gold: serve, stay together, think about synchronicity, create dialogues and stories, stand up for honesty, Indulge in the stranger for his cuddle. friendship!

Torsten Korner, critic, screenwriter and director, has received numerous awards for the aforementioned production, including the Grimme Award and Civis Media Award for Schwarze Adler and the Gilde Film Award for Die Unbe Biegemen.

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