How to edit a documentary [learning |2017-06-12]
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Turning hours of footage into a well-polished film requires hard work, complex judgements about what should make it to the final cut and a careful division of labour between director and editor.

Editing an hour-long factual film can take a couple of months. The editor and director work closely to make the most of what’s been shot and to tell the story as clearly and engagingly as possible.

This week’s podcast goes into the cutting room to examine this intense and creative process with two experienced professionals.

Sam Billinge is a factual film editor who has worked on a wide range of documentaries for the BBC and other broadcasters in genres including science and business.

Jacqui Farnham is a former BBC producer/director and series producer who has made films for Horizon, science biographies and social history programmes.

"The film-making process is personal as well as professional. You’re making subjective decisions based on your own feelings and instincts." – Sam Billinge

The podcast includes Sam and Jacqui’s take on:

- how to brief an editor at the start of an edit
- who writes the commentary and picks the best bits of the interviews
- how an editor can bring the director a fresh perspective on the rushes
- how to handle viewings
- what happens in the closing days of an edit

Sam and Jacqui also discuss the pressures created by having to rely on a colleague who you may never have met until the start of the edit.

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