Benjamin Mercer has been a feature film editor for more than a decade, after transitioning from a successful high-profile TV commercial editing career. In addition to cutting TV series like Irish serial drama Rebellion, he has cut more than a dozen European features, including the critically acclaimed Unknown Soldier (2018) for which he won the Finnish version of the Oscar (called the Jussi-awards) for Best Editing.
In this masterclass, Ben will show actors and editors first-hand how performance is analysed and cut within the editing timeline. The subtle twinkle in an actors eye, each blink, that gaze - is she really listening to him? This is all picked up on camera, and the editor takes it into account when cutting a scene. Throughout this masterclass, Ben will walk you through the interplay of performance and editing. Identifying good vs. bad. Making bad into good, good into great. Cutting ideas rather than action. Finding meaning. Subtext. Unspoken dialogue.
This masterclass is invaluable for any actor looking to gain a deeper understanding of screen performance, and any editor who’s interested in the interplay of performance and editing; what exactly it is that makes an otherwise flat performance compelling.
Ben talks about his work in a recent interview with Pro Video Coalition. “I approach a scene more like a sculpture in that it’s just that big rock and I’m chipping away, trying to find the form of the scene and this is where many film students or people off the street don’t understand why it takes so long to edit. The “je ne sais quoi”, the something special, the “I don’t know what”, the originality comes out of discovery. The magic in film is something that’s unexpected. It seldom has been created on location fully visible in front of the camera. That took a long time to understand. I would always think editing is so difficult because the writer doesn’t know how to write and the director doesn’t know how to direct and this actor doesn’t know how to act. But then as you grow older you realize that, “no no, everybody has given their best shot, it’s just that the magic of the screen is something more.” You can’t just conjure it just like that. You have to beckon it out and basically to beckon that magic you have to kind of dance around. You have to be really delicate with it. And then as you chip away at that big rock, the form will begin to show. At some stage, the film will then dictate to you and the roles will change.
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