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Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 9 of 10

Importance of Editing with Bill Pankow


Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 9 of 10

Importance of Editing with Bill Pankow


Lesson Info

Importance of Editing with Bill Pankow

We're talking a lot about martin scorsese today a bit of trivia that leads right into our next guest brian depalma was the man who introduced nero to score says before mean streets an answer to the trivia question who really made that marriage was brian depalma said going into our next guest he's an editor with over twenty years collaboration with amongst other filmmakers mr depalma he's cut for brian untouchables and snake eyes and and casualties of war but to me his greatest credit with depalma is the dancer in the dark video bruce springsteen for those who know who didn't who didn't know that that's actually brian department directive that please welcome editor educator mr bill pankow is with us bill welcome thank you bill this is robert malala's oh here in san francisco with ileana douglas talking about filmmaking from the inside out meaning the insider view of of what goes into the creating the outside let's talk a little bit that editorially you know this old trope of film has ma...

de several times when you shoot it when you did you know when you write when you shoot it when you edit it do you think that's overstated where would you place the importance of editing? Obviously preeminently but do we overestimate or underestimate the power of editing? Well I think it's absolutely true there's an evolution to filmmaking and I think it starts when a writer as an idea and then subsequent to that, it becomes a script, and then it gets on set, and a lot of people are directed, including the actors and producers sometimes have something to say about it when the time it gets shot, it's involved into something may be slightly different or markedly different from what is the original writers intent? They have to that it gets into the editing room. And again, what I find is that a lot of writers directors really to understand that evolutionary process, because if you're a director who was trying to push and pull the material, you've shot to be something that's, your original idea, you may not have that in the can. So it's very important to realize, in fact, it's interesting. I you do have to kind of give up what happened before and look at the footage you have. I mean, absolutely, from a performer's from from a filmmaking perspective incense ileana on I was think of editing is a form of screenwriting you're literally writing, you have that opportunity but that's an exciting opportunity. It's not anti climactic, you know, so many film makes all I didn't do it. Yes, you did. This is a new movie, you have a new opportunity. Well, the movie I want to talk about is that when, you know, my first professional job in show business was I worked for peggy siegal is a film publicist, and the movie we worked on was the untouchable. And so, you know, that was quite a movie. It was no, I mean, that was that there was, you know, amazing experience and being in the premier the opening night and the way the audience reacted to it and stuff and you talking, and I think that robert de niro had had been kind of off screen for maybe a couple years. He seemed to come in so that movie with, like, a bang and so many scenes in that movie are just incredible. And, you know, how do you end it? How do you shape a movie like that or wasn't in the script or in the editing room? Just please tell me about them because I love that film. I think it was all of that it was it was certainly shaped in the script and it's, a great, great screenplay and run by david mamet. Of course, brian, as you know, is an extremely visual director, so a lot of that stuff was really very, very well planned, out, choreographed and designed so that everything all the set pieces especially would fit into sense of place then we when we got into the editing room brian had a really hard jerry greenberg to be the main editor and jury was busy on sweets. I suggested to brian that I come in to be the second senator and work on it so he became available so that's so that's really what happened? And it was really, really very exciting to talk about robert de niro coming in with a bang I certainly enjoyed if you will anything that scene with the baseball bat when he goes around and talks about everyone's enthusiasm but that had a fire that kind of operatic violence and energy just, you know, it's it's so prevalent in all of branson's particularly in touch with so many and you also you know, we could talk about editing and department and bill and you know, two things about, you know, department general, the intricacies of the gestalt of the shot in the sense that brian seems to be a really kind of serve hitchcock who understand editing physics but untouchables bill and you could speak to this you know, the image to battleship potemkin uh the odessa steps sequence with the baby carriage how much not to get too you know you're just doing with a lot of film geeks here who loved depalma but how much film's editing science does brian talk about you know, does he literally talk about juxtapositions and inflections? How how well versed should a director being in editing science? Well, I think a directive really needs to be well versed and visual storytelling, and if you take that concept as in writing and follow it through all the other parts of that is going to come into play, so you need to be able to convey your ideas visually and you have to be aware of all of the possibilities all of the tools, if you will, that can you can use in order to tell that story visually and certainly anything is a great part of it and some directors our so called performance driven, where they allow the cinematographer and the editor to help shape the style of the movie and some directors are very, very well versed in all aspects, particularly in the editing because they have a very specific plan. They might storyboard a scene or all scenes out in a certain way and expect to see it that way. It doesn't always work that way as we talked about earlier in the evolution process. By the time you get to the editing room, it might be a little different, but I think that's important for any director, anybody who's going to create some sort of visual storytelling that they think about how those things are going together and it is a sort of a pet thing of one I always think that people have to be aware not only I was going to go together but how it's going to go together and you see it on a big screen way often watch things on computers and television screens and if you take the physics of it if that's the right word it takes your mind a certain amount of time too absorbing information on a certain size screen and that's different on the movie screen and so part of the editing process is allowing for that as well we've been talking that a cz fans and his crafts people about how ashby you know how it is great example of how you can learn filmmaking from starting editorially how won an oscar for in the heat of the night and was norman jewison's also david weise david water why otherwise what's the story robes and yeah way talk a little you know we've been talking about how and stuff what about the the specter of learning filmmaking through editing do you think that's a viable does that sound realistic to you? I mean seen footage see coverage uh it kinda filmmaker understand how something that shot simply from well I my first introduction to editing was probably sidney lumet's by watching you know I'm a kid I'm watching a movie dog day afternoon I don't understand editing but I understand that there is something about that cut sequence of events where I just want to jump out of my seat, you know what I mean? Like and that was for me that was my personal introduction to how editing can can lift a movie this is that sequence is breathtaking, you know, we the cops and attica and all this kind of stuff and it gives you a sense of the excitement of the editing can lift a film emotionally and then maybe also, you know, saved in the editing that's you know, that's why we say that, but I personally love editing I don't know if everybody does I feel I mean, I'd be curious to hear what you feel, but I feel that there is nothing like the excitement of good editing in a film. Yeah, yeah bill bill, where do you come down on that it's an interesting question, a great challenge? What makes a well edited film? Some may say cynically that well, that ended film it's like a referee of a basketball game if you don't notice they're there, they're doing a good job. What is the role of the editor? What makes a well edited film? Well, as you say, if if if you don't notice the editing, the others certainly done his or her job very well, but I think if those many different parts to make it a well edited film. Certainly one is visual storytelling, as I mentioned before and implement my process on I want no other people do this to is once you understand what the characters are saying, I have the dialer pick takes, I turn the sound off, and I find that he scenes and overall film of starting just seem to seem it has to convey some emotion. It has to convey the narrative and give a sense of drama being not one hundred percent, because you, obviously you needed dialogue to feel that, but that's sort of a basis of what I do in terms of in terms of in terms of the things also this physical things, like we talked about the time it takes your eyes to understand things on the screen, if your eye jumps around the screen from one cut to another, if your eyes focused on a certain part of the screen, and then the next context you to another part, unless you doing that for specific purpose that can be jarring, so that's not going to be so those kind of just more physical things that make it smooth, helping the well edited but mostly it's well edited if you have a new emotional impact, if the performance and the cinematography make you feel like you're in the world that the characters aaron okay, pen so that's, why you're not noticing any? Because you're in that world and if you're not in there, there's something about the anything that is keeping you outside, whether it's the shots they used, whether it's the sound is something going on that doesn't let you be in that moment all the time. And the more often you're in that moment that the characters aaron, the more you enjoy the film, the more you feel of it. It's a successful good film and you can say part of it is that it's well edited, I think that's a that's, a big it's really interesting stinking of the colleague of your yours bill. Walter murch and I've heard walter say the same exact thing editing with no sound, you know, looking at sort of the bio rhythms of the since it's sort of interesting, you know, to be able to tell rhythm, maybe taking dialogue out of it or sound out of it it's interesting? Well, also, like when I'm a filmmaker, I'm you know, I make comedies, so so much of editing is then based on you agonize about it's, not funny and, you know, it's funny and it's I always use the old elaine may's to say take four frames out and it's funny that was always said sometimes it's that you weird, universal like actually it's true it's funny, untrue. Well, but again, it's, you know we look at is the movie like when harry met sally and the cut it cuts too? You know, rob reiner is mom and she says all have which he has that's good editing too, because how do you know exactly where to cut it? So that it's funny that's hard it's a great segue way and it's a great point. You know, bill, you're woody allen talk about editing. Uh, what? He's worked with the fuel getting editors. He talks a lot about comedic editing. He actually thinks the more you cut something, the less funny it isthe his model was always the marx brothers. You know, marx brothers leave the frame static. Let the guys do their thing. What about this idea of different theories for different genres? Bill, do you go into a editing suite? Say this is a comedy? I must therefore apply the rules of comedy or do you? Is it a much more instinctual reaction to what you're cutting? I think it's both a so if you get into a comedic piece timing as early as that is really, really critical because not only the timing of ix of understanding the joke but also leaving time for the audience to respond to it otherwise they're not going to absorb the next moment of the next job and so you have to be very, very careful with the timing, how you do that and again where you direct or misdirect the audience to be and I think it's true of any genre when I'm cutting a specific genre of film, I do go back and just listen and look at films a material from that air, books and movies and try to understand not just to copy what's going on but to feel sort of emotionally to get into the heads of the characters and feel what that it feels like in that and whether it's film you are or whether it's a war film and that sort of helps inform the judgment that I use and editing whether it's letting the shot run long enough so that the audience is involved in everything around, feeling the environment or compartmentalizing it make it fit, making you feel a very small, intimate moment in the field of a huge battle and so it's it's very, very particular to that john or sometimes but in general making the audience feel what the characters the feeling being that world is that applies to any job welcome to the course, which is exactly what you you keep going over this idea of looking at other models a study no feeding your mind creating tone based on other other precedents this's the joy of film to may it's short it's just it's a relatively young art form you can go back and see if you know what huge which I love and you are an encyclopedia. Well, one of things I was gonna ask bill which I'm curious about I find is an actor sometimes now is the director the use of digital over film is that there's just way way too much footage and I find my own choices as a filmmaker when I'm in the editing room I'm like I I second guessed myself because I mind I have too much footage and what would you suggest to somebody like me when you're why I'm in the editing room with you and I start second guessing myself because I go? I thought I wanted the two shot now I'm not so sure, right? Well, I think that you shouldn't second guess yourself might I think the same rules apply in the sense that your instinct is usually the best thing to drive what's going on and a lot of directors especially all the school directors have come from the film and a digital medium I have chosen takes on the set that they think are good and those are the ones that the editors usually take their cue from and start editing with those. And I think you should continue in that vain take the ones that you've chosen on the sun continue the thing about digital is that this there's no there's, no select takes everything is available, everything is printed, and I tend not to ignore that there could be value in there and it's not a question of second guessing it's a question for me of reviewing and making sure that no stone goes unturned and no little nugget gets neglected, so I would. But the process I have is to take those takes in her favor, and used them, and cut the whole film that way on then and whether it's at the end of the scene or more probably more efficiently, that the end of the towards the end of the editing process to just go back, and then I review all of those digital takes that warrant considered one hundred percent on make sure that there's nothing in there, that because otherwise it just it's okay, because I work with directors to would like to go through every single take that's been recorded digitally, and then there's a value to that too. But again, you have to have the time to do that, and not everybody has the time to consider all of those things it's a great point you both bringing here for young filmmakers who don't have large cruise sizes take notes on the take be your own take one bird flu through like like you know what we have so much footage now lilliana as you suggest don't be afraid as a filmmaker to walk around a set with a notebook it's not a sign of weakness it's a sign of strength and intelligence now more than ever you have to do this well and having also is bill would say a good script supervisor that do you think very thoughtful note and deal is some form of those crime exactly when skips out really good scripts of it could be your best friend and anyways we'll talk to you both a cz we look into a third and maybe last chapter having too big brains here bill starting with you in terms of performance what are your guidelines for editing performance you know we were talking we've been talking a lot about the myths of continuity and you know how do you decide above and beyond that's just a great performance take what are your rules give an example if you see a great take where there's a small shadow in the background do you throw it out? What about a tape that looks pristine cinematically but isn't his flat actor wise like what is you what is your rule system bill if you have a sense of your criterium for choosing performance takes well, they won't think that shadow and well, now that we have all additional tools available to us all, that can be ameliorated quite easily, so you never wanted minorities think for that, my I mean, I feel that the relationship between editing performance is a symbiotic, that we look at the different performances, the different takes and there's always of something that stands out in a particular check but could be checked want it could take ten, and I find those moments and use those as the basis for building the cut, and I try to create a narrative arc to the scene, as well as a dramatic sort of emotional impact and making sure that everything that I feel the actor's one of the greatest fears of an editor's, too not include all of the wonderful stuff that the actors put into you, especially in the first cut you tried included every single thing they've done. And if I can get back to being in the characters world, if in the editing we brought the audience into that world, they're gonna worry so much about the continuity mean, you watched films from ages ago there till you're ready to have a cigar, glasses up the glasses down if you're involved in the story. Nobody really cares about that again if it's a huge problem we could weaken usually fix it dejan that but it's a beautiful thing and just before we get ileana to jump in on one also talked to you this is something I've actually spoken to film about where we've got thelma schoonmaker one of the great you know editors along with bill and walter and just the pantheon you know film talks a lot about it actors who who's worked changes with more takes like some actors need I'm going to speak his ability on is not here but she would understand because she's very thoughtful when you look at footage do you notice that maybe some actors their performance day crescendos with or maybe some actors get better whatever that means with more takes for you are you able to speak to that? I mean is that a reality or is that a kind of wives old wives tale that the number of takes varies? The effectiveness of take after take after take varies from performing a performer I think that's absolutely true and I've seen that in films time I'm again I mean I think the most performance is involved and get stronger the more takes that they shoot and in my experience is a lot of different factors involved one is just once they start out with this with a particular set up as talks progress the actor usually becomes a little more comfortable with the physical business, whether they're moving within a space, picking something up, props whenever secondly, the directors will often find to take, and I'm sure our liana could speak to this later to that as it takes progress, the director mice come in between takes til this was great the way they did this to a little bit that little bit more than so as the takes go on, the performance tends to get better, stronger and a little bit. And then the third thing I often see is that when actors are playing also one another within a scene as it takes progress, they were there is the comfort level, whether there's a chemistry or connection that gets made between them, that seems to sort of progress and get better. Also, so I'm not saying you have to do ten takes ileana mentioned similar method for I worked on a couple of his films of human do one of two takes, and that was it. Other directors will go to take fifteen and looking for something. You don't know how much of your patients will use that word in a scientific way, but what is the relationship between your work on the set, ileana as a performer and the number of takes? How sensitive are are you? To that oh my god we're doing another take you know how does all the take is a work for you? Well sometimes again when you've been doing it so long you're almost you know you just know you're like wait a wide all right, I'll I'll be in my trailer I can't you know you think you can be completely you know because you like tell me tell me where my close up is and then I'll make it happen you know? So we have to remember this is the guy's first movie and we're all excited to be here and every tank is a valuable lesson and one of the things I was saying is I try to not uh I learned my lines so well so I usually ask if I can go maybe second if they can do someone I kind of like to get you know I'd like to get a sense of what is the camera going to be? I'm a little bit different in that way I like to modulate my performance toe understanding what the wide shot is going to be and it almost for me I like I'm understanding it as we're shooting so my take literally like I mean enormous sounds bizarre but I've got news for so long like four five are usually like my best takes I just I know exactly what I'm doing but some people comedians that work with a lot of comedians but they don't they're like they come in, they want that first take and then they're done you're just bored they don't want to say it again they start ad libbing and it's that's where again an editor's job becomes very important because it's like it's one thing it's great you're working with the comedian what about all the you know now you're modulating all the other performances from all the other people who are you know the he's different in every take and that becomes again a little bit of an editing dilemma when you're you know when you're an actor again I'm always in the back of my head I'm thinking about the editor so I'm always trying t make sure does this scene feel covered? That's for me is just my own personal thing I always feel I always urge the director or if I'm producing it to get more coverage not so much I don't need ten takes I'm like let's do a little bit of a variety on this right? We shot it this way you know what let's shoot it this way we're right here but that's just my own personal philosophy from being a director and feeling is if I don't have enough visual variety in what I've shot, we've set up an important kind of teaching moment because I want to get this is one of those here you can hear what both sides you're thinking I'm gonna ask you both a very simple question so eliana was still with you when you're when let's say we've shot a master and in the master, you've picked up a glass of water with your left hand and your in your medium closeup coverage on you. Are you thinking oh right, my left hand or you just doing no, of course you have to think of that you have tio that's the thing is an actor you get you can't get angry why she don't touch me I'm active, you know it's like there war it's a collaborative art we have toe you have to somehow left brain right brain being your emotional place but also remember consistently otherwise it's unusable yeah, you know that's the thing you can't be so precious that it's unusable, right? Right have tio you know that's what's good about the wide shot you know that's what's good about like knowing like me that I'm a little bit better later on. So let give me the ability to teo practice I also I like to us the strip person what I did before they come up to me in jar me, but again that's my own again just so you know we're doing with it actors now in an editor's dream a zillion iss but so bill, I'll throw the ball over you if you heard that an actor was thinking about continuity do you what do you feel like that is in the priority scale do you want an actor to think about continuity or do you feel that's maybe one one belt notch too many? What about actors and continuity no I come to do it is obviously very important I mean people who bring in the space people picking up things relating to props and stuff it's very important because if they don't do it that it limits your choices and certainly with the digital tools we have we can blow a shot up and trying to get the arm out of his job but then making a bigger size that perhaps isn't the most effective size for that moment story but that said the minor as similarly the minor sort of oversights and continuity can't be overlooked if the audience is really involved. But if it's a major thing it's a major physical thing in the frame whether it's that actor or somebody else in the frame or some car so something else that's going to suddenly jump out of the frame you really after the actors have to really be aware of their environment as people in this character do you think bill the journey from the editing for a young filmmaker emerging filmmakers the journey from the editorial suite to the sets is it is it is a encouraged one you know we talked about ashby a little bit do you think you can learn how to make films by starting it in the editing suite? I think you can I don't you talked about people but direct is knowing what the sort of rules of editing and the grammar of energy is about before they go on to the set and that's something as an editor you can definitely learn because you see not only by other people's skills on other people's success is you can see their mistakes and by dissecting that that can help you sort of avoid those things and enhance those things when you when you take it on the set but but but but the nature and editor wants to be in the dark room by themselves and and directors want to be out there with one hundred people talking at their coattails after and what about this? What about that? What about that and they command the whole sort of army of people and yet they can still see through all of that and find solutions to problems that come up on the set and still be creative both cinematically and with the performance of the actresses it really takes a very, very certain kind of personality and you could learn that you could learn part of that in the editing room but you could certainly make that transition has the director over a bill ever ask you to visit the set uh no percent department or brian but has that filmmaker ever said he had wanted to come down see what's going on yes, that that often happens that particularly help us when we're on location because we're so close by aa lot of times if in the editing room is in new york in this assessment so close they don't but occasionally a director well will invite us to come by and say, why did you come and take a look and and see what's going on I personally before the film starts shooting even I like to get the production designers, drawings and plans and floor plans so I understand how the actors are going to move through the set and then and then when this testament when they're actually not shooting usually at lunchtime I like to go walk through the space myself and take my own photos so I get a sense of how the actors the characters go through that space and that helps me well when I'm editing and working in the same spaces to the characters to go from one spot to another that's really interesting can you please I'm just curious bill, do you have a sequence of years from one of your films that we could all sort of take a look at or a couple examples of some of your sequences where you feel like, wow, I really nailed it that, um, well, I don't know what does one sequence in assault on precinct thirteen talking about, uh, space of relationships, and I remember walking around that set and there's a scene in there where a ll the sort of criminals and the cops wanna faint balls, they sort of face off against one another on it's, a very good example of point of view and subjective shots, where you, you understand whose point of the concert going and john, like was on was a big important and, you know, a big voice in a zoo, some of the other characters, but that's a very interesting scene, it comes together really quickly and in terms of the space, in terms of the people relating to the characters relating to one another on that space, the great, alas, this question, and maybe get to some stuff in the room, but I'll ask both of you sort of on a different side of the mirror. Ileana have you ever worked on a film? And your role was reduced significantly, and you thought low? Yes, you don't have to, you know, they released today movies, but I'm just going to what's your reaction to that, and here you won't be interesting about that is I I acted in a film I won't say the film and they were editing it in the building in the brill building is bill may know back in the day everybody was working in everyone and I was in the brill building on my movie and iras iras hearing right here are your things they're not going well I kept hearing and I was like, that is not what I want to hear because I knew I knew my part I was uh there was a prize you know, problematic in terms of tone and some other things in my my part got edited which I disagreed with because I personally would have felt that, um or experienced editor would have been able to not only get capture my obviously reduce it you shot too much reduce it but they literally ripped out my whole character and then the movie didn't make sense anymore. So bill, have you ever had an actor send you an anonymous note? Where did my role go? Uh or work with the film because you know the history of cinema like rolls go away and you know I'm not saying this is right or wrong just when this happens, you know, and sometimes actors are very vocal there's there's a list online of of the ten greatest performances you didn't get to see in the terrence malick film you know, literally so bill with you stand on the heavens that ever been in in your dramaturgy that an actor said we're all my close ups or wise my role so small, the kids I mean know exactly that, but usually my interactions with the actors and said, uncle, this set that much are in the end, your stage and that's where it's going to meet them and they see scenes often for the first time, so there was once found where we're putting it together very quickly and didn't even get to the editor where it was going to be and they seem comes up in the actor says where's my close ups I e I promise you we discussed it before even came out here in california until you're in new york is that your availability on the schedule but promise he was going to we're going to actually put them in the scene and then other times when you're sitting with the director and an active might say, oh, I did this ad lib or have a favorite line and that's a time when they when they see something that was sort of meant something to them particularly wasn't in there there was one occasion where I worked on an action film which had a lot of subplots and a lot of villains and in order to condense the film one of two of the villains were pretty substantial parts, which is completely excised way just take them, take them out through and then one time there was a refreshing postproduction process, and we needed a couple of pickup shots for a movie, and the director wasn't available, so they made it difficult for you, some of the storm where the city may got everything going out the set, what the actors and they got somebody to direct it, but because I was the editor and I do like, what was what were shooting these inserts for? They asked me to be on the set that produces that. Would you please be involved? I said, sure, and so the actor gets up on this. What the look out a window in a certain way, and she gets up there and she looks and she's looking the wrong way, and I know I can't really incorporate that the way it was planned, so I said, excuse me, what would you mind? You're looking this other direction, she said, I'm not taking direction from some editor together, but then finally she came back and we got the shot that there is no level of communication about communication, collaboration, where you're looking at footage every day, have you ever thought bill looking over footage every day that you do have a reaction to the acting because you're seeing the acting in a way that no one is saying it do you feel able and obliged to maybe saito a filmmaker hey you know this we're not getting the performance do you feel emboldened to do that or is that just not your jurisdiction I think not only is it my jurisdiction is my responsibility to at least have the conversation with director especially as the daily start to come in and say listen you may have said this to me or the script may feel like the characters going like this and it seems to be going this other way is this what you're asking for uh is this what you want because making sure that they're comfortable and that's what they're looking for because then aiken sort of raise a red flag and say are you looking at daily nowadays you know it was a great time when we all looked at dailies together like this and retire for a director editor sometimes the actors and we talk about what what do you like what what what what's good what's out of focus and that's what gahn and now I suspect a lot of people don't have the time to look at the early so we have editors have become the arbiters at least was a preliminary stuff and so yes I'm absolutely totally confident in bringing up subjects that might be you know in polite to bring up anyway so I don't do it now that fbi director saying to me at the end the shooting when you tell me that you would talk about dot dailies I looked at illiana knew you were going to be smiling well, you know, because the bill makes a fantastic point I got the tail end of that and you know, you're also watching things on a big screen and so you were shooting and I was thinking of this movie I did called to die for and it was you know buck henry and gus spins in matt dillon nicole kidman you get food you're watching daily and you're like, wow, this things it really gave you a sense while these things things could be good, you know? So it gave everybody a great sense of enthusiasm and yes, you could you could stop mistakes before they happened or raised the stakes of something you were doing performing well so far there are just so mad ash opens mash which turns a forty five this year saved in the editing amazingly, no it's true, you know, you know, they didn't know what to do with it and he comes up with this idea that they're going to cut to the the loudspeaker on speaker and the loudspeaker announcements for your trivia buffs were memos from the studio bill you'll appreciate this there's a memo and that there's a without speaker now it's been in mash where the loudspeaker says no more pornographic materials on the walls that was a note all men and his editor got from the studio heads because they used to have naked photos of naked women anything sweet you know it's so great that we've talked this long and over time with bill because I with all due respect bill thie editor never gets to respond in this way like you know I feel I think for me is one of the most sacred and they're having a great relationship with your editor because as bill knows, everybody goes away, you know and it's the director who comes in the morning with his coffee and has all the pressures of delivering this film and and often times editors really like a shoulder to cry on absolutely in terms of, you know, getting this film over the finishing line and also we didn't even touch on this but another really important thing previews bill you know, your work of art gets you know, gets all these negative cards and you've got to go back in the editing room and you go what did I do wrong? You're sitting in a mall in jersey and you're saying way have to cook it again that's another which we could continue about that where do you go? Well, we're going, we're gonna brian way we're going bring you out here, bill and I'll tell you what a dozen of reasons but one just to close on well it's all often in film editing that's the tail wagging the dog we teach rightfully so final cut and avid and and that's fantastic but we don't teach the approach in philosophy so one day bill, we're going to have you as here to do a little editing talk with us so thank you for being with us today I know I know everybody thank you so much so true that such a topic here tio dio it's amazing you talk about that? Yeah, you know re editing yeah, yeah all right in itself we shooting we have before we move on to another guest thoughts about that just any reflections? Yeah question about editing going home we spoke about, uh, actor styles and director styles what about editor styles like is that does that play a role? And how does the director kind of choose the right editor? Absolutely. The first editor I ever work with her name was terror tim pany and she I saw on a resume she worked for bill panco s so I said brian deval ago and she was an assistant I couldn't afford an editor but terror tim pity I was like, you have the job and, well, man, we just spoke the same language we just got along that's huge really well she now works with paul fee guy lost her oh really unfortunately came to successful she's doing probably ghostbusters next yeah I looked at her resume looked for those things like you know where you know reference points from here yeah you know somebody that that that worked under I've also worked with people that worked with thelma I know that there's going to be a certain level there you kind of audition the people you work with you know it's that thing I'm going to be in a room with an editor I want to know the to have a shorthand it's definitely it's a cliche but it's a marriage you really if you don't feel another big thing too sound silly but humor we have the same sense of humor the same style the same because if you're doing a comedy and you think something is funny and they don't think it's funny that could be that's a conversation stopper yeah yeah I'm pretty sure you could make anyone laugh though as they would have found you not funny and charming yes yes sad it's happened it's shocking teo love this other questions about the editing chapter yeah about you for bill but with like the new easter's a lot of cg eyes hasn't affected ending a lot as far as you know the old way of doing things like from goodfellas god sure technically is like a big how you would approach it you know, if you're doing a scene in the office having cut the next fifteen minutes is all siege I only that's a good question because there's a filmmaker would you be? Would you have it in your mind? Oh, I want a young I'll bill panco case classic he's done all this stuff but my one I want some newbie kid who knows all the latest gadgets and final cut there is a connection from editing vote the vocation to technology absolutely and age and experience does maybe come of sort of counter lever to that and then nothing about special effects if you don't mind me jumping in you know something like spider man that's so pre visualized then you kind of locked into sequences a lot of times the effects were done before the secret you're cutting backwards yeah you're cutting to what has already been planned so which could be creative and we look at spider man sam raimi stuff is very creative but right the editing has a different relationship very much this's sidebar but not so much you've been so authentic about your love for similar to what is your take on modern films? Do you can you learn from bit you're going toe cineplex and seeing a big movie now of course is there a film that or phil how so how do you take in new films well, first of all, just because I always say it's my business you know, like I need to be aware of what is out in the marketplace was popular how are how are tastes changing? What it's funny you know, who's popular who's not popular I mean, you know, are there any geniuses out there on the level of billy wilder in my opinion no, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy films and can be moved by films this year there was actually a crop of amazing documentaries you know, you can learn a lot from from watching you know, documentaries I don't know if anyone saw citizen for yeah, I am citizen for you yeah, okay, that movie is this thrilling I'm in the academy I voted that they won the oscar for best documentary did win the oscar for bit but I actually voted it for best picture because I thought it was on the level of a great suspense film which she did and putting together yeah ah, that narrative was was admirable cz noted documentary yeah, yeah, you know and again you have a movie like boyhood that that you know, I'm always watching my friends and films of course, and watching those innovations another interesting editing question, you know, how did they edit a movie over twelve years now you know, that would be interesting things but you know I'm always out there you know, watching the watching the films that you know that come out and I'm always interested in new filmmakers watching their body of work assed they progress is important because people like to palmer are still working there are great filmmakers living you know? We can't just give up because billy wilder in cuba recording up making movies yeah, well it seems like again in the pantheon of directors they were making movies they were in a studio so you know, they made fifty films we weren't really judging them every you know, this emphasis sadly on how does your movie performing the box office is kind of destroys are a little bit you know, our question goes back to editing if uh what how did you are what can you do if you get to the editing room and at that point the editor has a vision minutes at that point when you get to the editing your your relationship with the director and producer is just starting to do syria and yes, how would you go to resolve that to save the picture so they're not happy with the the shots and now it's sort of are you saying what is left in the editing room and piecing it together or you know, how would you go about communicating with the director producer on how like if I'm the editor and I have I'm trying to save your your pictures right? You well again I get it's just having I mean anyone can be critical but I think it's having a solution you know we're so you know so quick to be like it's horrible but it's like ok well you know offer some solutions well that that's it you know, those type of people that wouldn't tell you the house is on fire the other will show you how to get out of the house right? But I think your your question before we get to our next guest is an interesting one because it points to the fact that when you're editing that is the last push right? So tensions and investments become very high yeah and everyone feels like that's that's an interesting moment of very but I love the word use editing there's a sacred thing and then it's unfortunate that we just kind of feel that's like surgery versus like a real process well it's important doing is you were saying before it can be a time where people jump in and pull the film you know this happens all the time contracts get pulled out look, I have no I and that could be message often times this again I'm speaking from independent filmmaking nut big studio films but an independent filmmaking suddenly the backers of the movie the producers who you know uh who gave you the money are in there I've seen it happen many times where the director is fighting for his life, you know they've got a vision and then the producers want toe recut in go a different way and again that's where it's so how important having editor who's, your who's, your ally that's, the point e again that's I was training get more twos like if the studios pushing you to just finish the product and just all the integrity and what do you it's hard that's again? That's, one of those hard that's, a tough that's, that's, that's, hollywood yeah, way see it all the time thing, this famous movies, you know where people films were taken away and and you can get bogged down without almost I've seen directors get bogged down with like their version, absolutely the movie, you know and it's like do another movie, then you know, david lynch didn't have final cut on doing, he said, I almost never made a film again dino de llorente's, who produced it, said, what do you want to do next? He said, I've been moving couple of velvet said let's, do it. The rest is history.

Class Description

Where exactly does a filmmaker’s responsibility end and an actor’s begin? Filmmaking requires an abundance of creative collaboration and parsing out who is responsible what is a surprisingly complicated endeavor. In Filmmaking from the Inside-Out, Illeana Douglas will share strategies and insights that improve communication for those working on both sides of the camera.

Illeana has a unique vantage point. Her grandfather is the OSCAR® award-winning actor, Melvyn Douglas and she has worked extensively as an actor, director, and producer alongside some of the giants in the industry, including: filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Gus Van Sant and Robert Redford; and actors Robert De Niro, Ralph Fiennes, and Nicole Kidman. In this class, Illeana will help both actors and filmmakers develop a better understanding of their own unique roles and how they can work together to capture the best-possible performance, in-camera. You’ll learn:

  • The precise definition of “filmmaker” and what they are responsible for
  • What the actor is expected to bring to a production
  • Customizable approaches for improving communication on set
  • Techniques for capturing performance on camera

Nearly every filmmaker and actor grapples with some level of insecurity and wants to feel more confident about their work. In this class, you’ll learn strategies for improving your craft and communicating about your unique contributions with your fellow creative collaborators.

Whether you are a filmmaker or actor, you’ll learn tangible and craft-based approaches to making constructive decisions and capturing the best work on set and in the camera.

Special Guests:

  • Anastas Michos, Cinematographer 
  • Bill Pankow, Editor 
  • Neil LaBute, Writer/Director



A great insight from a veteran of Hollywood on her perspective, thoughts, ideas and genuine feeling of what each individual can gain from simply believing in yourself and your abilities. Ms. Douglas and special guests took time to give us as much useful information as possible in a very tough business of film making. Hope to have such courses again.

Laura Latimer

A great class with perfect insights. Thank you.

a Creativelive Student

This was a fascinating and useful course. Ms. Douglas' views on the craft of filmmaking helped me better understand it.