Trusting The Creative Process Is Key To Good Film And Television Editing


Editors’ Lounge panelists discussed how to find inspiration, breaking through editors block, and how to gain editors’ muscle

Last Updated: April 2, 2014 2:34 am GMT
(Burbank, California--April 2, 2014) While artists are typically creative by nature, there are times when one can feel less than inspired when working on a project. In the Channeling The Muse installment of the Editors’ Lounge, panelists bypassed the usual technical discussion to find out creative techniques industry veterans use when summoning their “inner muse.”

Moderated by Debra Kaufman, Associate Editor at Creative COW, the panel consisted of experts in the field of editing to include; Zack Arnold (editor, Burn Notice, Glee), Ryan Case (editor/director on Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Jay Lash Cassidy (editor, Silver Linings Playbook, Into The Wild) and Dan Lebental (editor, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2 & creator of TouchEdit for i-Pad).

While finding inspiration is not always easy, it’s important to explore different methods on an individual basis to find what works best when getting into the creative zone. Music is the preferred medium for Zack Arnold when creating moods within scenes. “At the end of the day, our job is to manipulate the audience to feel things,” said Arnold. “When I can’t get into something I find film scores very helpful. Your head always creates images that go with the score.” Arnold continues, “When I’m cutting a scene that I can’t figure out, I will hear something and think, that’s what I want to feel.”

Editors block can often pose a real problem adding unwanted stress and stifling creativity, particularly when deadlines are looming. Rather than falling into panic zone, it’s crucial to keep going and trust in the process itself. Many times, the inspiration will strike when you least expect it, or as in what Dan Lebental describes as developing editors muscle along the way. Lebental explains “Being in pro mode is different from being in an inspired mode. What I find is that if I just keep going, filling in the edges of the puzzle, then suddenly it will just hit me on the true nature of what it is I want to do.” Lebental continues, “I also call this editors muscle. When you keep powering through until the inspiration hits.”

Typically, every project experiences an evolution during the editing process. Although many times it may look like a train wreck in the beginning, it’s important editors remember that everything will work out, even if at times, it’s extremely difficult to envision the end result. As Jay Lash Cassidy stated “It’s like if there is a certain belief in the process, that if you just believe in it enough, and don’t question things, it comes out right. It comes out to whatever it should be.” Possessing this type of confidence, and not doubting your talent is key when it comes to being a good editor and storyteller. Ryan Case commented, “Just knowing that if you work long enough on a scene, you can get it to wherever you want it. I always get better at it as I go. It’s having the stamina to keep trying.”

Deciding when the edit is ready for delivery is a tough call at best, particularly in the feature film world where workflows allow for more time and collaboration with the filmmakers. It can literally become a constant intellectual battle on what gets cut, and what doesn’t. “What’s interesting is you know you’re finished when whatever clever idea you had is spit back in your face,” said Jay Lash Cassidy. “The movie has life and it gets to a point where it starts rejecting you.” In the fast pace environment of television editing however, deadlines will typically make the call and the editor has to decide on their own if good enough is actually, good enough. “Film is a different process than television because I spend way more time cutting and assembling on my own,” said Ryan Case. “For me, it’s a lot of time alone in making those decisions and I have to decide what is right on my own. I don’t send out something I’m not happy with because I know that could air.”

To view the entire panel discussion and learn more tips from the panelists, please visit

About the Editors’ Lounge: The Editors’ Lounge is a hands-on seminar for industry professionals. Each month, scores of professionals in the production and post-production industries exchange ideas, discuss trends and learn about new technologies; allowing editors to have their questions addressed objectively. To learn more visit


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