Films: Q&A with Shan Mohammed
For me, it's the most challenging and creatively satisfying job. It comes pretty much at the last stage of filmmaking, and as they say, this is where a film finally made. I love challenges. I'm also helping to create something, which till then has existed only on paper and in bits and pieces, in film rushes. Apart from the director, the editor is the only guy who has the complete picture in mind. Editing is excitement at 24 frames per second.
What's the best and the worst thing about the job?
If you like mental challenges, editing is a job that activates your grey cells. The job puts your narrative skills to test every now and then. I love telling stories through words, visuals and sound, which is why I'm so passionate about the job.
The worst thing about editing is it's a thankless job. An average viewer will only talk about acting, cinematography, sound, music, dialogues, and sometimes even the script. That's understandable because these are the things he gets to see and hear. You ask him to point out taut editing, he'll be at a loss. The only time, possibly, a viewer will realise an editor's "contribution" is when he has gone horribly wrong. Then they start taking frequent smoke breaks or respond to their mobile phones.
Is it possible to learn editing at home?
If you have a computer at home with enough memory space, a good sound card and Internet connection, you can learn the basics. Some demo software packages of Avid Express and Final Cut Pro are freely available on the Internet. You can download them on your PC and practise.
Whom does this job attract?
Anyone who loves jigsaw puzzles, plays chess, has a flair for music and rhythm (laughs). It's a strict no-no for people who suffer from an attention deficit problem as most of the time one has to work alone in the confines of a studio. It's no longer restricted to any socio-economic class. Earlier, there wasn't much scope to work as television meant only Doordarshan, and even in films, it was extremely difficult to make forays. But all that has changed in the past 15 years or so. Even corporate and ad films are drawing a lot of editors who wish to make some quick money. With film awareness growing, now there is a certain amount of glamour attached to this profession. It's sort of cool to say, 'I edit'.
What kind of people are they?
You cannot typecast them as heroes and villains are labelled on screen. The profession draws all kinds of people, of all shapes and sizes, and some of them are what you call "cool dudes", sporting long hair and a goatee.