MPI’s the Mindful Editor Focuses on Crafting Powerful Stories

October 22, 2020

MPI, in partnership with Smock Media, recently wrapped its virtual editing workshop, the Mindful Editor. MPI filmmaker Adam Hawk Jensen guided his largest class of 15 fellows through a month-long workshop focused on sharpening the vital skill of editing while minimizing creative burnout.

Often referred to as the “unsung hero,” film editors are responsible for cutting hours of footage and meticulously piecing just the right clips together so that audiences are taken to another place. Their decisions have enormous power over the film, and the stress of their work is real, as is the burnout that comes with an editor’s demanding schedule.

Participants in this workshop learned the intricacies of the cutting edge editing software DaVinci Resolve and enjoyed professional instruction from award-winning editors such as Jonathan Glenn (Project Runway, The Academy Awards) and Tom Wilson (Mad Men, Castle Rock). Session topics ranged from “Understanding Film Editing as a Creative Position” and “Going to the Source: How to Capture Movie Magic” to “From Theater to Cinema—the Power of the Emotional Journey.” The participants were tasked with creating their own short film using footage from Smock Media’s Witness Project, a short documentary series which profiles survivors of communism.

The raw footage they were given contained no dialogue, so editors had to build their films from scratch by deciding the genre, tone, and direction. “I was able to practice using music and a succession of shots to convey a feeling,” said MPI fellow Melanie Lim. “There’s a lot of emotion and empathy that can be drawn out of a scene…especially when all you have to work with are visuals.”

The workshop culminated with fellows sharing their short films and reflecting on their creative decisions. As MPI fellow Evan Matthews put it, “I was surprised how we could all leverage the same footage into such wildly different experiences.”

MPI fellow Daniel Brugmann recapped the experience saying, “the Mindful Editor almost seems too good to be true. Access to professional editors and filmmakers, emotional counseling and development, trending remote editing tools, and feedback from other editors is a rare opportunity. Plus, everyone’s attitudes were so encouraging. I recommend that editors of all skill levels attend MPI’s Mindful Editor workshop if given the opportunity.”

The application window for MPI’s 2021 Mindful Editor workshop will open in the spring. Sign up now to receive future application notifications for this and other MPI Rising Filmmaker Program opportunities.

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