Manhattan Edit Workshop announced the return of its five-day workshop, “The Art of Documentary Editing” Oct. 29-Nov. 2. Taught by Janet Dalton, MEWshop’s director of education and freelance editor, and MEWshop owner and filmmaker Josh Apter, students will explore the many techniques of documentary editing, from the creative decisions that make a great story to established workflow methods for picture and sound that every editor should know.
The workshop will also feature an impressive lineup of guest speakers, including Sam Pollard (When The Levees Broke, Four Little Girls), Jonathan Oppenheim (Paris Is Burning, Sister Helen), Robert Eisenhardt (Valentino: The Last Emperor, Woodstock: Now and Then), and Arielle Amsalem (By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, The Education of Dee Dee Ricks). These award-winning editors will discuss their own work and careers in a rare opportunity for students to learn the craft from some of the best in the field. Instructors and students will screen and deconstruct clips from a wide range of non-fiction genres, and also cut footage from real documentaries – experiencing firsthand how editing can affect character or story and create or alter reality. There will be frequent screenings and critiquing of each other’s work.
“Documentary editing is such a specific art, because you’re taking real events and telling a story through the act of editing – there’s no storyboard or road map,” said Apter. “It’s a process that feels more like writing with images and sound than anything else. And students will learn that art as well as the technology behind documentary editing; for example, understanding how Avid’s Script Sync and Adobe‘s Speech Analysis can minimize the time spent searching through hours of footage, and how Red Giant‘s PluralEyes can be an essential tool for syncing footage.”
“Documentary editing is writing with living people’s words and moving images to create a story,” said Oppenheim. “It is a totally unique endeavor. Subjects of a documentary want to tell their stories. They want to trust the filmmakers, and they ultimately want to be contained by the audience. As an editor, you are in a unique position to honor that trust or to abuse it, and the intention you bring to the process is crucial.”
“As far as I am concerned, documentary editing is the definitive way to learn how to tell a story in filmmaking,” said Pollard.