Behind the Scenes: What Documentaries Look Like

Here is what the beginning of a documentary edit looks like on a video editing timeline. (I’m editing in Premiere Pro CC for anyone interested.)

The pink squares are my notes on the edit as I start to piece the story together. The blue squares are interview soundbytes.

Editing timeline

On the technical end of things, this documentary is literally colored squares: a digital quilt if you will.

If you delve back into the history of Hollywood film editors, you will discover that they were mostly women, because the idea was that women were used to sewing—stitching two pieces of fabric together in order to make a garment, a larger whole. When you edit with film, you are essentially sticking two pieces together with tape to a make a different kind of larger whole: a film.

Therefore, what followed was: women who could sew were women who could edit.

And then men realized how good editing jobs were and how much money could be made and they entered the field and dominated.

BUT, both Steven Spielberg and Q. Tarantino hired and stuck with long term female editors for their films: Verna Fields and Sally Menke who, unfortunately, is no longer living.

I love editing, this is my favorite part, and I’m thrilled that so many amazing female editors have come before me.

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