Today PBS' POV Documentary Blog is publishing "Entering the Edit with Karen Schmeer Fellow Eileen Meyer," an interview with Eileen about her process and her goals for the fellowship:
We’re kicking off the second edition of Enter the Edit, a series exploring the regrettably underappreciated process and craft of documentary editors. Our (new!) guide will be 2016 Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellow Eileen Meyer.
We spoke with Meyer just before she was announced as the 2016 fellow at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
POV: What’s your workflow when you’re starting on a new film?
Eileen Meyer: My first step is organization. This entails watching all the footage, making notes, and coming up with a strategy for breaking down the material. I like to spend as much time watching and organizing as possible before I make a single cut so that once I start putting things together, I can really get into a flow. I want to know where everything is and how to find it quickly so that the technical process doesn’t interfere as much with the creative process.
Every project calls for it’s own organizational system, whether it’s mostly dailies, interviews, archival or a combination of many elements. I find that breaking down the project is the first step in creating the potential structure of the film, because you start to see where your characters, themes or ideas insect and overlap. You can start to see scenes that will work and others that won’t, and what the film is lacking visually or emotionally. Once I’ve got everything organized by subject and I’m starting to group ideas together, the massive amount of material starts to look a little less overwhelming.
As I’m watching, I’ll make note of the best moments. I have learned that it’s incredibly important to take those notes the very first time you watch the footage because you’ll never get the chance to see the it again for the first time. It’s your only opportunity to truly be in the audience’s shoes. The moments that have energy, make you laugh, or endear you to a character are best on a first impression – you can build the information later and around those special moments.