This spring the students of Film Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) program had the amazing opportunity to go with their mentor, Larry Maslon, to the Tisch School Of The Arts building of the New York University, for an enriching opportunity of experiencing a film editing workshop with one of the most prestigious professors of NYU’s film program, Jennifer Ruff. This program has been ranked in the top 3 in the country. The workshop lasted about two hours and since Larry is a professor at NYU, after the workshop, the group had the chance to visit the area of the Graduate Acting Program.
The workshop started with a warm welcoming from Professor Ruff and her assistant, who is one of her current students. Some members of the group shared their personal experiences, questions, opinions and concerns about what goes on during the editing process. Some people from the group had already some experience making films, mostly personal projects they did for fun, and even then, they noticed some of the major issues film editors come across at the time of editing the film. For example, the amount of material you end up throwing away, and cutting because it simply doesn’t work, or is not what the film needs. After discussing previous experiences the professor gave the group some simple, yet incredibly useful and necessary tips to have in mind when editing a film. For example, leaving in what the film needs not what you want, taking into consideration the audience doesn’t know what you know, not to give away answers too early in the film before the story has developed, and always know its better to be ahead of your audience than having them be ahead of the film.
After discussing this, the professor proceeded to show the group some of the first films that were made. Very plain and straightforward films of one shot, but that regardless of the simplicity they were ageless and universal. Eighty years ago the audience was able to understand it and enjoy it, and now in the 21st century it was still enjoyable and easy to understand the story being told. After watching about three of these films, the professor showed the group a film of one of her students. She showed two versions of the film: first the unedited version; and then the second version, already edited and with soundtrack. She explained the group how she was very grateful to her student because filmmakers consider the first version of a film a very personal possession. They usually don’t like to show it to anyone, because they don’t want their work to be seen or judged before being finished and being the best it can be. She also explained how at the moment of arranging the order of the takes, editors take into consideration the beginning of the film are like seeds they plant, so they can bloom as the story is being developed. The group discussed with her the amazing difference and how much a film can improve during the editing process, and she also explained there’s no really right or wrong choices when you are editing a film. Sometimes you have to try many things to see which one works best, and most of the times they need second opinions of fresh audience. She also explained some things that can get in the way of a good film and make the editing process a nightmare, like bad acting.
I found the workshop beyond helpful, fun and entertaining at the same time. And after the workshop the group went to the Graduate Acting program area, where they got to see not only the wonderful facilities of the Tisch building, but also some very cool and personal decoration the hallways had, like the cartoon portraits of past graduating classes, in which amazingly you could find some known people in the entertaining industry, like Edi Gathegi (Twilight Saga), Debra Messing (Smash) and Idina Menzel (Wicked). Overall this was a remarkable experience for the entire group, as it has been the entire journey with the Film TRaC program.