Making The Cut - How an editor evaluates performance


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Masterclass Overview

This online Masterclass offers a unique perspective on performance. Presenting an opportunity for actors to gain a deep understanding of acting for film & TV. What happens to your performance after the director calls cut? How is your depiction of the character interpreted by the editor? How is your performance moulded? Can it be improved???

During the series, you will see how every action (and non-action) is scrutinized, categorized, analysed and eventually incorporated in the edit. It is the fascinating interplay of performance and editing, designed to give you a unique perspective that will help you to enhance your own performance. Ultimately presenting the importance of combining emotional reaction with technical understanding.

After all is said and done, if the actor’s performance doesn’t seem true, then the audience will not engage and whatever story will be lost. This begins with the actor, and ends with the editor – your unknown partner in performance.

This series is not only beneficial to actors, but also editors and directors who are interested in the interplay of performance and editing; How to make an otherwise credible scene compelling through the manipulation of performance and defining character to support the story.

Purchase price gives you an unlimited amount of views whenever you want!

About your instructor Benjamin Mercer:
Ben has been a feature film editor for more than two decades. 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.

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.


"Ben’s class was enlightening as an actor studying the craft of film. To be mindful of what you are offering the editor in your performance is not something we are trained to know as actors, yet is essential and benefits the whole process of filmmaking. Ben’s guidance has stuck with me in every project I’ve worked on since and helped me incorporate a deeper understanding of what happens beyond the performance on the day. Highly recommended."

Clara Harte (Actress)
Lily, Into The Badlands, The Yellow Wallpaper



Video 1: Introduction:
Introduction and course breakdown.

Video 2: Script
Analyzing the scripts. During this tutorial, Ben will read the script with you and discern from it the mechanics necessary to give rise to such things as character traits, character dynamics, viewer emersion and suspense. He will identify the underlying structure of the story to help evaluate the actor’s performance later. But most importantly, he will read in between the lines, identifying what precisely the scene is all about; Analyzing what is being said VS what is actually being said (subtext).

Video 3: Screening
During the screening process, Ben will open up for you the nature of his observations as he screens the footage. Evaluating each actor's performance and making initial selections (selects) and rejections. Will he find if the actors have provided performance to support the subtext?

Video 4: Assembly
In this tutorial, Ben will discuss how and why the assembly cut is devoid of rhythm & pace, presenting the first look at the edited performance before it has been manipulated in any way. This cut will serve as a starting point, and will also serve to show what is lacking in performance, rhythm and pace.

Video 5: Versioning
In Video 5 - Versioning, Ben will identify from which characters' point of view the scene is being told. He will pace the rhythm, balance the performances, eliminate any unintentional emotional shifts, and remove redundant dialogue - anything that can be said without words. This is all captured through the scrutinization of each actor's performance. Ben will cut two versions of the same scene from alternate perspectives.