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DEGNZ member Chia Chi Hsu answers some questions about her experience shadowing Millie Lies Low editor Dan Kircher and what she learnt from the mentorship. Chia was selected in 2020 to take part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, funded by Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission.

 


For anyone who hasn’t done an attachment, what does being a drama editor attachment through DEGNZ mean in a nutshell?

An opportunity for an up close look at the editorial aspects of a drama production, and be privy to meetings and discussions between the editor and others involved that one might not have the experience of attending before.


You finished your editor attachment not long ago. How long was your attachment and what was your schedule like with Dan Kircher?

The sessions were widely spread out so I got to see a bit of everything, from the rough cut stage till the end of the project. The attachment took well over a year because of Covid, but the lengthy period allowed me to take in and put to use what I had observed.


What’s something you learnt from Dan while observing him work with director Michelle Savill?

Always be prepared and be open to communication. Also I saw a good deal of trust and respect between Dan and Michelle, from which I think the film really benefited.


What was your experience like in later parts of the process?

Similar to earlier but just observing different aspects of the process. Also, I saw that the editor’s involvement carries on well after the locked cut; apart from colour grading and sound, Dan also helped with music clearance. I think being able to see a project through to the end must be very satisfying.


How has your attachment helped you with work that you’re doing?

During the attachment, I happened to be working on a web series. Bit by bit, what I had picked up from the attachment, I was able to apply them directly to what I was working on: from how to organise a project for a drama, how to tackle the notes, to tactfully dealing with tricky situations.


What’s one thing you discovered about feature film editing that was different to what you imagined?

How the extent of an editor’s involvement can facilitate the editorial process, and that being an editor is more than having the technical skills but also being able to communicate well, manage expectations, problem solve, all of which contributes to how well a film will turn out.


How do you think your attachment has contributed to your development as an editor?

With the many solid skills I have picked up during the attachment, I think they are helping me to be more confident, knowing that I have a few more tools under the belt, and more equipped to deal with projects on a larger scale.

 

What are you working on next?

I am working on a feature drama film at the moment, alongside Dan! The new project started just as the attachment ended, as if the attachment has continued on!

 


Chia Chi Hsu entered post production in mid-2015 as an assistant editor to documentaries, working with veteran filmmakers and editors on films and series, including Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, Yellow is Forbidden and Dark Tourist, among others. Her work includes editing on short film Memory Foam, web series Inked, the TVNZ anthology series episode Giving Up the Ghost; additional editor on Yellow is Forbidden and The Girl on the Bridge.

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme was initiated to give emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor. Recipients learn through attendance during editing and later, at director, producer and/or funding body screenings, about the critique and response process so vital to the successful creative collaboration required of the feature film editor. The scheme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōnā te ngahere, 
ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōnā te ao.

‘The forest belongs to the bird who feasts on the miro berry, 
the world belongs to the bird who feasts on education’.

 

Our kaupapa is to inspire rangatahi to look beyond the glamour of filmmaking to the hidden engine room that controls the story and magic of a film – Editorial.

If you’d like to know more, come along to a workshop where you can find out what’s involved, hear from and talk with Māori who have made a career in film editing. Have a go with a scene from an award winning Māori drama on the latest editing software and find out just how much influence and responsibility an editor has on a film.

Tikanga Māori will be in place, some tutors are te reo speakers, and te reo is welcomed in the workshop but not required.

Ngā Kaiwhakahaere: Hineani Melbourne (NAW) & Tui Ruwhiu (DEGNZ)

Ngā Kaiako:

TE RUREHE PAKI (Editor Merata: how Mum Decolonised the Screen, Vapnierka, Making Good Men, The Gravediggers of Kapu)

ANNIE COLLINS (Editor Coming Home in the Dark, premiere Sundance 2021)


Support Tutors: Lea McLean & Onehou Strickland

Workshop Details

When: Saturday 29 May 2021, 9:30am – 4:30pm with capacity for a chat, or a little extra time for finishing a task until 5:30pm if required.

Where: South Seas Film School Campus – Yoobee Colleges, Unit 6/75 Ellice Road, Wairau Valley, Auckland 0629
If you need help with transport to the North Shore, please let us know when you register.

For Ages: 17 – 30 years old

Price: Free of charge. Includes lunch & refreshments.

 

Registration Form

Registrations Close: Monday 24 May, 4PM

Spaces limited to 14. We will email you to confirm your place.

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This workshop is instigated and run by Ngā Aho Whakaari (Maori in Screen) and the Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand (Ngā Kaiwherawhera Kiriata)

       


Supported by the
New Zealand Film Commission

NZFC

 

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōnā te ngahere, 
ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōnā te ao.

‘The forest belongs to the bird who feasts on the miro berry, 
the world belongs to the bird who feasts on education’.

Two-Day Workshop for Maori Editors 17 & 18 April

This workshop is for emerging to mid-level Maori editors with a focus on preparing you to transition to independent drama productions.

Tikanga Maori will be in place, some tutors are te reo speakers, and te reo is welcomed in the workshop.

We will cover:

  • setting up an Editorial department
  • interaction with the pre-production and production crew
  • scheduling an edit
  • setting up the workflow systems from camera originals through to handovers to independent post houses (sound design, picture conform, composer, VFX, titles graphic artist)
  • relationships with other departments including producers and directors
  • handling screenings, and giving and receiving feedback.

The focus is on managing an independent Editorial department for an independent production, not on how to edit – it is assumed that you know how to edit and you have your own style and vision that you should retain. The workshop will use Avid Ultimate 2020.8, and you are urged to familiarise yourself via online tutorials.

The workshop commences at 9:30am each day, finishing around 4:30pm with capacity for a chat, or a little extra time for finishing a task until 5:30pm if required. Lunch is provided, tea and coffee for morning and afternoon breaks.

Limited Spaces. We will email you to confirm whether you’ve been accepted.

Workshop Details

Ngā Kaiwhakahaere: Hineani Melbourne (NAW) & Tui Ruwhiu (DEGNZ)

Ngā Kaiako:

Te Rurehe Paki (editor Merata: how Mum Decolonised the Screen, Vapnierka, Making Good Men, The Gravediggers of Kapu)

Annie Collins (editor Coming Home in the Dark, premiere Sundance 2021)

Location: South Seas Film School Campus – Yoobee Colleges, Unit 6/75 Ellice Road, Wairau Valley, Auckland 0629

Price: Workshop offered free of charge because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel Allowances: If selected to attend, DEGNZ and NAW members may apply for financial assistance of up to $150 (incl. GST) towards their travel costs. To be eligible:

  • Applicants must live in New Zealand outside the Auckland region.
  • Applicants must be a current member of DEGNZ or NAW.
  • There are up to 8 travel allowances available for this workshop.

 

Application Form

Applications Deadline: Friday 9 April, 2PM

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Brought to you by Ngā Aho Whakaari and the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ

       


with the generous support of the
New Zealand Film Commission.

NZFC

 

Earlier in the year, DEGNZ member Brendon Chan took part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, attaching to editor Peter Roberts on Matthew Saville’s feature film Juniper. He got to shadow Peter over the course of the edit – from assembly with the director’s intent in mind through to the final cut.

Read on to hear about Brendon’s experience.

 


How did your attachment to Peter Roberts start off?

I think at the beginning of it he did tell me, ‘I’m not here to teach you how to edit, you should know that already. You’re here to observe the feature film process, which is a process that not too many people get to observe at all, as editors.’

 

You were still working while you were doing your attachment, is that correct?

Yeah, I managed to take the time out where I needed to sort of run back and forth on certain days when I wasn’t working. Peter was working at Images, and then shifted to his house during lockdown.

 

You weren’t expecting a pandemic in the middle of your attachment! How did it affect your attachment and the production?

I know that the schedule had to extend somewhat, just because of COVID. They got separated obviously at Level 4; Peter in his household and then Matthew in his household built a bubble in Level 3 just so they could keep working.

And they did keep me in the loop as well ‘cause I got sent cuts of the film to view, and I got all of Peter’s notes on them! He would add his thoughts for himself on every piece of feedback that he’d gotten, whether it was from the distributors or the producers or whoever, so I actually got to see a pretty interesting insight.

It was good, because despite the distance through the first lockdown, I was still able to be part of it. I think there were a couple of phone calls here and there as well – that was the best part about being in person – hearing him speak and listening to him talk about his approaches to things.

I think what I liked about him so much is he’s very honest. He’s not really sugar coating things, like that’s what I really wanted in the attachment anyway.

 

And that’s obviously the way he works as well with his collaborators?

Yeah. I mean, he’s honest, but that doesn’t mean he’s arrogant or anything. He’s very willing to admit, ‘Just go through the process.’

It’s almost like, from what I saw, yes, there is a process, but there’s an enormous amount of time you have to spend on the ups and downs and dealing with all the feedback because it has to get done eventually. And there’s only so much time you can spend doing it, that the budget can afford.

 

That must’ve been quite a new thing seeing how much feedback is involved in a feature?

I’d seen it on a very small level on shorts or TV commercials that I’d cut. But obviously this is a lot bigger and everything ‘cause how do you keep track of everything that’s in the film! If so-and-so said to take out this line about that, you’re still trying to be aware of how is this going to affect the rest of the film.

 

You got to sit in and observe the director and the editor before the producer meetings. How was that?

It was good. There were very measured debates that were going on about things. Sometimes it was like, ‘do we need this?’, whether it came from Peter or from Matthew. It was interesting going through their process and I think most of the decisions that were made were ultimately ones they both agreed with in the end. ‘Cause you know, so much in the editing is, weirdly enough, about losing stuff. About getting rid of things that are sort of superfluous.

 

Later, there was also feedback from the sales agent, right?

Yeah, I was looped in. I believe it was only emails through the sales agent because I think they were based in Germany? So there were lots of emails and everything that I was given access to by Peter, which was good. And again, he let me know his thoughts on everything, like how he reacted to it and some of it he would try to interpret.

 

Were you there during the test screenings?

I couldn’t go. But I was given – I think it was a 60-page document – from marketing. It was interesting because I’d never cut anything where the demographic was such a huge consideration.

 

So then you have to figure out what is relevant within that 60-page document?

Yeah, and it’s not just that. Probably while you’re editing, you’re very aware of the target audience and the film. Trying to think about that when you’re cutting was an interesting concept to me.

I believe for this film it was an older audience demographic. With a children’s movie you’re like, ‘Okay, yup, yup. I was a child once.’ But I’m not older than I am! Part of me was like, what would my mum like? [laughs] But you know, I’m not making decisions. I was just trying to picture it in my head.

Ultimately, you’re trying to please the director and you’re trying to appease whoever has the most financial interest in how it’s going to perform. And it’s about trying to strike a balance between that, trying to keep everyone happy, while feeling like you’re not doing something that you strongly disagree with. Ultimately, you want to work on something that the compromises you can live with.

 

What was your experience like observing them locking the film?

I went to Peter’s as it went down to Level 2.5. He’d sent me the last cut the night before to watch, and the next day I went round to his place and he took me through the final cutting to lock the film.

Peter told me that when you get to this stage, you should go back and look at your initial cut. I took this in two ways: to look at your initial instincts versus what you may have taken out to get the film down to a tighter runtime.

He told me that he’d gone back and looked at one of the first cuts on one of the more visually dramatic sequences that bridged the first and second act. He’d realised that the initial pacing of the sequence was far more effective in the earlier version. I don’t believe any of this was part of the feedback, he was simply trying to make the sequence more effective.

 

Did you find doing the attachment beneficial to you?

It was really beneficial. It sort of eased my worries about ever doing a feature a little bit. I mean in theory it’s the same thing, whether you’re doing a short film or a commercial or what have you. Everything has the same philosophy behind it. You cut for the same reason. You cut because you think it’s going to make the audience feel something, and it’s like you’re just applying it to something bigger and way more complicated.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve got to pay the bills, so I’d like to do work with more of a financial incentive, which would give me the freedom to work on lower budget projects that might get me more exposure.

I’d really like to cut an indie feature as my first feature with some exciting filmmakers because it’s a good stepping stone. I’m sure I’d like to do more shorts, but I feel I need to step up to the challenge.

 


The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme is funded by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Juniper is set to release in 2021.

DEGNZ

Brendon Chan has been selected as the attachment to editor Peter Roberts on feature film Juniper as part of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ’s ongoing Drama Editor Attachment Scheme.

Brendon ChanBrendon entered post production in 2010 as an assistant editor, where he worked on feature films, such as Born to Dance, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Black Christmas.

He made the leap to editing full time in 2017, working across a broad range of television, web and film content. His work includes Associate Editor on Turbo Kid, Additional Editor on 6 Days and Assembly Editor on Do No Harm.

I’m really stoked about being selected for the drama attachment. I’m looking forward to closely examining the feature film editing process from assembly to locked cut, particularly the creative collaborations that take place between Editors, Directors and Producers,” said Brendon. “I’m also excited to observe Peter’s very genuine approach to storytelling and collaboration up close.”

Brendon begins his attachment in February.

The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme was initiated to give emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor. Recipients learn through attendance during editing and later, at director, producer and/or funding body screenings, about the critique and response process so vital to the successful creative collaboration required of the feature film editor. The scheme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.

Juniper is directed by Matthew Saville, produced by Desray Armstrong and Angela Littlejohn and edited by Peter Roberts. On returning home from boarding school, a self-destructive teenager discovers his gin-soaked grandmother has moved in. A battle of wills ensues which enables him to embrace life again, and her to face her own mortality.

DEGNZ is excited to be able to offer a third member of the Guild a Drama Editor Attachment on a New Zealand feature-length film. Previous attachment recipients are Rotorua-based editor Lea McLean who is currently completing her attachment to Annie Collins on Coming Home in the Dark, and Anastasia Doniants to editor Paul Sutorius on telefeature A War Story.