why editing is important

A few years ago, I was working on a film set. I started a conversation with one of the camera operators, who claimed that editing is one of the most useful skills a person can possess.

a crash course on editing, courtesy of PBS Digital Studios

The editor is responsible for putting the whole film together. As this camera operator said, “The writer tells the story first, then the director tells that story again, and finally, the editor tells it one last time.”

In filmmaking, the editor’s job is to sift through the hours of raw footage shot by the director and find the story, as outlined by the writer. They’re responsible for deciding what gets kept and what gets left out.

More than anything else, I think this is what my camera operator friend meant. Not that everyone in the would should know how to cut a movie together, but that we should all know how to process raw information, separating what is important from what isn’t.

In today’s media saturated environment, editing it perhaps the most useful skill to have. Because we only have so much time and attention, it’s more important than ever to know what’s worth leaving on the cutting room floor.