You could point out a lot of reasons why Oscar-winner Tom Cross is one of the best editors in Hollywood. Maybe the most obvious, though, is evident in the diversity of his portfolio. Along with director Damien Chazelle, he’s crafted a tightly wound character study on obsession (Whiplash), a throwback love-letter to Hollywood via a musical (La La Land), and now a historical biopic unlike any we’ve ever seen in First Man. You probably couldn’t dream up three films that are more different than these, or three films edited as precisely and artfully.
Film editors bat cleanup in the long, long, super long process that ends if all goes well with a finished film. They take raw material and turn it into something clean, cohesive, and engaging. They’re not so different from a chef in that way. And they require just as diverse a skill set. “Being an editor is equal parts creative, craft, and pure nerd,” Lucas Harger an editor at the creative studio Bruton Stroube told us recently. “And I am exceptionally nerdy.”
Dana Shaw is a hands-on type of guy. A film editor, stained-glass artist, and self-proclaimed bird charmer, Dana’s preferred method of editing documentaries is to lay out all his notes and stills on a large piece of butcher paper, so he can physically move the pieces around. “I’m really tactile,” Dana told us. “So being able to put those themes into categories and print out related quotes and put them on this ‘paper edit’ helps me organize my thoughts.”
A good title sequence not only introduces a TV show or a film, it expands it, interprets it, becomes an integral part of the experience as a whole. In some cases (let’s use James Bond as an example), the title sequence becomes as iconic as the characters. There is an art to these sequences that some people have spent the lion’s share of their career mastering. Take, for example, Chris Billig — the co-founder and creative director of Scatterlight Studios, responsible for such iconic title sequences as Orange Is the New Black, The Maze Runner, The Honorable Woman, and more. We recently chatted with Chris about the art of the title sequence. Here’s Chris.