Walter Murch on Editing the Restaurant Scene from The Godfather | On Editing

Walter Murch | On Editing

The multi-BAFTA + Oscar-winning editor of The English Patient, Apocalypse Now + more takes us through the process that goes into crafting the perfect edit. From how he gets along with directors to the Platonic editing ideal, Murch makes use of his forty plus years of experience to provide practical advice + insight for aspiring editors. Check out a few of our favourite moments below.

1. Wielding the most important part of editing: emotion

It's like riding a horse. You have to always hold the emotional reins in your hand. Sometimes you actually have to jerk [the reins] a little bit.

Murch ranks emotion at the top of an editor's priority, with story, rhythm, placement within frame, the 180-degree rule + 3D continuity to follow (aspiring editors, are you taking notes??).

2. Being creative within the Hollywood machine

While working on The Godfather with Francis Ford Coppola + George Lucas, Murch was concerned that he would have to toe the line in an industry that already knew what it wanted. Luckily, he found he could be creative with the sound design of their masterpiece without getting so much as a slap on the wrist.

Even in a big Hollywood film you can throw these curves into the sound + actually enhance the film as a result.

3. Editing today vs. editing in his earlier days

One of the real advantages of digital filmmaking is this enhancement of the collaboration back + forth.

Murch notes that collaborating with at least two other editors is one of his favourite ways to work. Although anlaogue film editing made it difficult to make + undo changes, one huge benefit of digital filmmaking is the freedom to try tonnes of different ideas before settling on the right one.