Over the last six months I’ve had the great privilege of working with the very passionate and very talented Eddie Hamilton. Eddie’s credits have included Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class. He’s somone who’s dedicated to his profession and creates world class results that have been seen by millions of people around the world. Eddie’s love for films and filmmaking is so contagious that anyone who comes into contact with him can not help but love movies too! While on the shoot of Jadoo Farhana Bhula and I sat down with Eddie for a chat.
What is the role of an editor?
The role of an editor is take all the footage that is shot by the crew and put it together to tell the best story possible. When you’re editing, all you’re thinking about is character and story as that’s all the audience are thinking about when they watch the film. The audience cares about the characters and wants to find out what’s going to happen to them. Everything else is secondary to that. When I’m editing scenes I’m just thinking about the characters and the story. After that I’m thinking about making sure the shots look nice, that they’re in focus, that the warderobe looks great, that the lighting looks great, that the makeup looks great, the sound is great! Making sure that all the crews’ best work ends up in the movie. But the most important thing is character and story.
How did you get into editing?
I started to realise that I might want to work in the film industry when I was about seven, and I remember very clearly watching Star Wars on TV for the first time. My parents never took me to the cinema so I only watched films on television and it came on in nineteen eighty. My parents recorded it on a betamax tape and because the film started at eight pm and ran till ten pm, and my bedtime was nine pm so I missed the second half of the film. But the next morning I got up at four O’clock in the morning and I snuck downstairs, fast forwarded the tape to the right place, and I watched the second half of the film with the sound right down so I wouldn’t wake my parents up. I remember at about five thirty in the morning when the film finished seeing peoples names going up at the end and thinking, these are real people, they must work in film… I want to do this! From that day on I was a total film nut and read about film and watched as many films as I could. I initially thought I’d want to be a director, which is what everyone thinks when they’re that age but when I was about seventeen I started to think editing would be more appropriate for me.
What was it about the script that made you want to be a part of Jadoo?
The story is a very familiar story but it’s set in a very unique world of this kind of restaurant business in Leicester and it’s a unique glimpse into the Indian culture in Leicester and how the families who live in this environment relate to each other. Fundamentally, it’s a very simple and funny story that can appeal to a lot of people, and a lot of the best films are simple stories well told, and I think Jadoo is one of those.
What is it like working with director Amit Gupta?
We have very similar tastes cinematically and I really respect him as a writer and a director. To have that healthy respect for each others opinion means that we can be very creative, try a lot of things out and not take it personally.
How have you gone about editing Jadoo?
When I watch the material that Amit has shot I try and remain very independent of the emotion from the set and I let the material speak for itself. I will gather my own opinions on what the strengths and the weaknesses are of the material that has been shot. Occasionally I’ll get a feeling that something is not going to earn its place in the finished cut of the movie but at this stage, generally I will put everything in that Amit has shot. I feel it’s respectful to the writer and director of the film, in this case same guy. It’s important to give each scene a shot at earning it’s place in the film. But I do have my own opinions on what will come out and occasionally I will do another cut of the scene and try something out by removing a couple of lines of dialogue where I feel the rhythm of the scenes around it would dictate that it would be a good idea. Obviously I could be completely wrong and a lot of times I am, but you try things out as the most important thing when editing is to leave no stone unturned in the quest for the best film!
Do you edit with music?
I try and edit with music a lot, especially later in the editing process. Generally what happens for the first half of the shoot I’ll just be putting the scenes together as they are and maybe using the occasional bit of music. In the second half of the shoot I’ll start to build the film as a whole in the computer and I’ll start to feel where music needs to be present to act as a transition or to heighten some emotion in the film. By the end of the shoot I’ll have built the whole film with temporary music where I think it should be. I think it’s important to use music as much as possible when editing.
Can you talk through your workflow?
Our workflow in simple terms is this: The film leaves the camera, it goes to the laboratory, it gets developed, it gets put onto high definition video tapes and it gets digitized onto hard drive that we have in the editing suite. The sound comes straight from the set into the editing suite. My Assistant using a sync clap at the top of each slate will sync the sound and the picture together and prepare a little graphical window of all the shots for a particular scene. That allows me to see what has been shot for each particular scene. I will cut the scene together very quickly, not watching all the footage but just having a look at maybe one wide shot and then starting to cut the scene. I found it very useful to have gone through the process of cutting the scene before you watch all the footage for the scene. I find it more helpful having a pass of the scene, even if it’s only five minutes just quickly throwing the scene together, then you know what your looking for. Invariably you’ll find little nuggets of gold that you’ll need to make the scene really work! I will slowly build the scene up on my own and then when the film is finished shooting, I sit down with Amit, we work through the film for a few more weeks. We then show it to the producers, they came in with their notes and then a few weeks later we start showing it to small test audiences of twelve, fifteen people. We listen to what they say, we recut and then we’ll show it to a few hundred people and every time we screen the film we are very sensitive to what the audience is telling us about the pace, the story and whether they understand it or not. Every time we screen it we want the jokes to get better and to get more laughs. Hopefully by the end of the process we have a great film!
Why is it important to have an editor present in the cutting room while filming?
It’s very important to have the editor around during the filming process and any experienced director or producer will probably agree with me. It’s important to show the investors of the film how it’s all coming along. Whether that’s a film studio or an individual it’s important that they can see how the film is starting to come together and it’s important for the production to know that the story is working. If there’s anything missing I can tell them to shoot it as they’ve still got the locations and the actors. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to fix problems during the filming process than it is, say, six months down the line when everyone is around the world working on different films.
What do you think of the ending of the film?
I challenge anyone, even someone who hasn’t been blessed with much luck in the love department, to not find the end of this film very romantic. It will melt the hardest of hearts and I think that’s really hard to do. Amit the director and the cast, I feel have really nailed it!
Why do you use Avid over other editing platforms?
There are lots of editing platform you can use to edit a film and I choose to use Avid Media Composer. It’s what I like to use, I find it completely robust in terms of the actual software. Very rarely crashes! It does a great job of keeping a track of everything, I can work collaboratively with other editors and assistant editors on the same project. It has been developed for professional purposes. Some software out there hasn’t been developed for professional usage and can be fine for a short film, but when you’re on a very big film with lots and lots of footage, you need to know the software will keep a track of that and when you press play it will play and it will be in sync and work. I can deliver on an Avid Media Composer timeline absolutely world class work to the producers of a film or a film studio.
What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
I highly recommend, if you think you might want to work in the film industry, watching lots of films, reading any book you can about it. Go and make one short film a week for a year, on your phone and put it on YouTube so that you’ve got 50 films and believe me you will learn so much about storytelling, about what you have to shoot, how to work with actors, how to use music, how to edit, how to light, how to do visual effects and that will be like a film school. That’s all you’ll need to know. Read books on screenplay writing, write lots of scripts as it’s hard to write really good scripts. There are tons and tons of resources online, totally for free. Filmmakers being interviewed, filmmakers giving talks about what they do! I question whether film school is worth the money quite frankly!