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Tom Cross, editor of "First Man"


Tom Cross, editor for both Whiplash and La La Land came back for Damien Chazelle's third movie "First Man". I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at New York Film Academy in California, where Tom talked about how he got to where he is, and how a lot of it was being ready when the opportunity appeared. This business is a lot about who you know and about luck, about being at the right place at the right time. But if you don't have the skills, if you can't deliver, you won't get those opportunities.


For First Man it was focused a lot on a documentary / cinema verité style. At some points they could have a 2nd or 3rd camera capturing moments that they'd later have to comb through and decide what to use. It increased the amount of footage and work, but also gave them a lot of possibilities.


He mentions separating all these inserts in bins, labeling them by scene and by type (Gemini 8 inserts, Apolo Mission inserts). That is the most crucial step of your workflow as an editor, to have a clean workspace, with well labeled footage. I have taken up projects before to reedit, only to open up Media Composer and take hours to understand where everything was. If you think labeling and properly organizing your footage and bins on your project is a boring part that you can skip, you can be sure you'll be wasting time later trying to find your footage.


On the subject of inserts, I'd like to mention First Man cost $60 million dollars. Tom Cross told us how in Whiplash, even though it was such a tight schedule on a low budget of $3 million dollars, Damien knew what he wanted for when he got to the editing phase, so much so that he had an entire day for shooting inserts. Being a director that thinks these things through and understands the elements you'll need during post production to actually bring your story to life the way you want to makes all the difference and helps you make informed decisions during production.



Below is a video of Tom Cross talking about editing "First Man" (which he did on Avid Media Composer, the industry standard).



#editing #avidmediacomposer #inserts #tomcross #damienchazelle

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