AT THE CUTTING EDGE

the creative use of digital technology for editing

EFA Master Class 2008

EFA Master Class 2008: in debate (Picture: Nikola Joetze)
EFA Master Class 2008: in debate (Picture: Nikola Joetze)

Dedicated to the art of editing, the EFA Master Class 2008 brought 16 editors from across Europe to Berlin. In the beginning of the week the participants formed four groups and started to sift through the material which came from the rough cut for the film KINOGAMMA part one EAST by Siegfried.. They had individual meetings with Hervé Schneid, tutor of this Master Class, and started editing. The practical sessions were accompanied by screenings and discussions with invited experts and the one thing that was evident in these vivid debates is that above all filmmaking is a matter of passion.

“It was a challenge for the participants to work together in four groups of four editors each, having to make collegial decisions, without a director,” comments Hervé Schneid who was very enthusiastic about this meeting of editors and happy to share his expertise and experience. And along with him he brought the filmmakers Douglas Gordon, Antoine Simkine and Siegfried, all of whom he had worked with before. By sharing their personal experiences with the participants, they quickly developed a special atmosphere.

An important element of this Master Class was discussing the different approaches to the work of an editor. In the opening session with journalists Nikolaj Nikitin and Oliver Baumgarten, Hervé Schneid said that he tries “to be a chameleon, to serve the film and the director.” He ppointed out that it’s important to change, to adapt. “I love to go from one place to another,” he told the participants. “It’s what’s interesting in life, discovering new things, new people, and new ways of looking at things.” When it came to the creative relationship between editor and director, Hervé remarked, “I never think that I know what is best for the film. You’re never better than your director. If you’ve chosen to work with a director, you have to play the game, be with him and support and help him.”

The film ZIDANE, UN PORTRAIT DU 21eme SIECLE closely follows Zinedine Zidane throughout an entire football match. The editing process was “a quite painful experience,” says Douglas Gordon, one of the film’s directors, “because of a lack of familiarity with the editing process.” There were 17 cameras, 17 different views of reality, and 1,700 minutes of material. As Hervé Schneid remembers, this meant having to make a lot of decisions. “And, as the concept was to keep real time action,” he says, “we didn’t touch anything; the film is 90 minutes long. So you choose the best moments for each second.”

After a screening of SANSA, a film following a man on his travels throughout Europe and beyond, Hervé Schneid and the film’s director Siegfried talked about the way they worked together. The editing took nine months and Hervé said that he was overwhelmed all the time because “the material is so big, not in terms of quantity but in terms of the feelings you receive from it.” Siegfried, on the other hand, admitted that he had never planned so long for the edit. “No, no, you don’t do movies like you plan them,” he said, “If I were told, ‘You will stay in that room for nine months!’ No, I wouldn’t be making films.”

In a discussion after the screening of DELICATESSEN by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, Antoine Simkine, head of special effects, remembered the times when he started to work: “We didn’t even know how to scan a film at that time. There was no way to feed film into a computer.” Hervé Schneid emphasised that special effects offer new possibilities “because you can explore and try new things.” But he stressed that it’s not the effects that make a good film, “it’s the story and the director which are interesting.”

For the participants, the chance to be together and discuss their work was extremely gratifying:

I realize what our Master Class actually meant for me: a safe harbour. For the first time in years, I was able to “dock” at a port with other such vessels as I. We (editors) travel the open seas most often very alone, steaming ahead from storms to calm with little time to stop and refuel.

Benjamin Mercer, UK/Finland.

With this master class I discovered another non competitive approach to film editing where experimentation is important and the exchange of ideas is of paramount significance.

Argyrious Marmaras, Greece

And, as Hervé Schneid wrote in his foreword for the documentation of this Master Class, “The EFA offered us this great gift, and I think we all took advantage of this opportunity to become better editors by discovering the differences and similarities in their ways of working and thinking. (…) The four films resulting from this “think tank” are very exciting and different. But the important part of the Master Class, what will remain of it, is the time we spent together, exchanging ideas and feelings”.

A documentation of the EFA Master Class 2008 is now available from the EFA Secretariat

Thanks to: 
The Post Republic GmbH * mmpro film- und medienproduktion * BASIS Berlin * dffb Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin * Catering mosaic * Sonoton Creative Sound Solutions * Rebekka Garrido * Mark Pöpping * Michael Reuter

MEDIA Programme of the EU, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH