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Interview with editor Andrew Arrakis


Andrew Arrakis was born in a small town in the Urals (Russia). He used to participate in staging performances and humorous sketches at school and university. After receiving a diploma of higher education, he was involved in organizing club-format events, booking artists. After some time, Andrew took up directing, shot several clips for local artists. At the moment he is shooting video, writing scripts and producing projects in the field of advertising and cinema.

  • When did you decide that you wanted to be an editor? Did you try your hand at any other type of filmmaking positions?

In fact, I am a film director; I can’t say I consider myself a professional editor. The World Is my Stage is merely the sixth video that I have edited in my life. I started editing out of necessity rather than by choice: I just was not able to find a fine editor for my first videos. All those guys who I had found, though, they were no more than button pushers. Whilst top cool professionals cost a fortune. That was the reason why I had to learn how to edit films and start editing my films myself. That was the same reason why I started writing scripts for my films.

  • How do you prepare to start editing (organizing scenes, takes, files and folders)?

First I structure my raw video footage based on an accompanying logic model of a specific project: I can organize materials by scene or by location or by character or otherwise. Next, I comb through my files and choose only decent shots. Honestly, I find the review and selection of takes to be a most tedious and mind-numbing part of editing so I hold off on it until the last possible moment, huh.

  • How do you decide when/where to make a cut?

It all depends. It can be cutting on movement or on light match or rather it can be a deliberate mistiming. Often I cut intuitively, I just feel it that it is the right spot to cut from one shot to another one. It is a gut feeling of the film timing. I trust my editing sixth sense.

  • How can editing change the tone or emotion?

Tremendously, in effect. Back in the times of Kuleshov and Eisenstein, filmmakers came to understand those fundamental truths. That is the very magic of editing.

  • What kind of problems come up during editing?

I would not call this ‘problems’, but ‘search’, instead. When editing, I spend most of the time on reflecting on the conceptual notion and testing a variety of ideas.

  • How does your work as the visual editor feed into the work of the sound editor?

I do the preliminary stage of sound design myself only because in a dynamically rapid editing, when a take is merely a ¼ or 1/12 fraction of a second, joins do not work properly unless they are not accompanied by sound. You just do not have enough time to catch them. And sometimes you have to match sound there – just because you need to understand whether transitions work properly or not. So, as a director, I give a general direction to the sound design, sort of technical instructions that our SFX artist is to take and finalize.

  • With all the adjustments, how much can a movie end up deviating from the original script?

From the very beginning I have a clear understanding of what I want to have in the end. In a sense, then, I start ‘editing’ my film as early as at the pre-production stage, at the birth stage of my film. It is all like part of story-telling, anyway. I would say, the script and the editing go hand-in-hand in my filmmaking. Next, I put it on paper by way of writing my script. I may happen to edit my film completely different from my original notion – but this is not about production needs but about flights of imagination and creative exploration.

  • How much creative input the editor has, or how do you get your director accept your ideas?

That is a hard question for me to answer because, as I said, I edit my films myself. But I believe under other circumstances, if I worked with an independent editor, I would be more than happy to consider different versions because personally I always keep options open.

  • Were you influenced by any directors or film editors in the development of your craft over the years?

No, not really. Certainly, I see and watch and absorb a lot; I definitely keep something in my mind, but I don’t think I can name anyone in particular.

  • Quite a few directors that once they find their editor, that’s who they continue to work with. Do you find that that’s the case with you?

Oh, this is my holy grail of sorts. I think I can even give you the name of this editor – even though I have not had the good fortune of working with this person yet, I am sure I will, and pretty soon.