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Meet Justine Wright

Film editing is a major stage in storytelling for the screen. Watch editor Justine Wright (Touching the Void, Locke) discuss the process.

Justine Wright began editing in commercials, having originally trained as a journalist.

Her first documentary was One Day in September (1999), directed by Kevin MacDonald, who she also worked with on Touching the Void (2002) and later on fiction such as Last King of Scotland (2006). She recently won the European film award for best editor for her work on Locke (2013). More recently Justine has edited Denial (2016) and Yardie (2018).

A commonly held view of the job of an editor is that they are a technician who simply assembles the film from someone else’s plan, but the creative role of the editor in deciding how the footage can be put together to tell the story is crucial. In particular, the process of editing film plays with time and space.

Like the screenwriter and the director, the editor has the ability to play with time and space and to change the way the story is told.

Very few film narratives run in real-time. The viewer takes for granted that sequences will compress or expand time (taking out the boring bits or holding a moment for the purpose of suspense).

Stories need not always be told in the order in which the events occur. As viewers, we are used to filmmakers filling backstory or showing sequences out of order for dramatic effect. We can jump about in time or even be presented with two time periods simultaneously.

The editor has the ability to restrict what the viewer is seeing or expand what is shown to give us information withheld from characters onscreen.

The editor can even change our perception of physical space through the choices they make.

You might like to relate any of these ideas to films you know well and share your thoughts with your fellow learners.

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Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen

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