EDITOR ON SET
FILM PRO, July 2014
Cezary “Czarek” Grzesiuk has edited the films of Kazimierz Kutz, Jerzy Hoffman, Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Jerzy Skolimowski. He has edited all of Andrzej Jakimowski’s full-length features. He talks about his experiences on film sets and about what – from his point of view – shapes the relationship between the editor and the director of photography.
"Editing is everything" said Lew Kuleszow. But actually a host of factors influence the final shape of a film. A film is a collaborative effort. It’s constructed from the vision of the director, screenwriter, actors, director of photography, production designer, composer, sound designer, costume designer and key make-up artist. The film’s co-creators are usually people with sensitivity and talent, and the relationships between them aren’t always easy.
Director – director of photography – editor
Naturally the person who links the work of all these people and ultimately shoulders the greatest responsibility for the film is the director. The director takes the final decisions. My role as editor is to offer a clear-cut proposal which is moulded by various impressions. In the early phase that is the reading of the screenplay – certain ideas arise at that stage. After that the ideas are confronted with the material from the film set which is telling the story. I filter that material through my life experience, professional intuition and the director’s expectations. But you could say that the director of photography is the first editor. She or he makes the selection of space, give me a fragment of reality, even if only by making the decision that a shot begins here and ends there. That’s why it’s wonderful when the director of photography is already thinking about the editing during shooting. Fortunately, there are more and more people who think about film as a totality and have the sequence of scenes in their heads. Unfortunately there are also directors of photography who get lost searching for a beautiful take. They are only interested in the individual scene, and don’t take into consideration what was in the film before and what will come after. For that reason the collaboration between the editor and the director of photography is different each time, and depends on the personalities, circumstances and type of project. I prefer situations when the collaboration is close and is based on mutual chemistry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like that.
Editing on set
I’ve actually been on set with my equipment during most of the feature films I’ve worked on. Editing material as it comes demands the coordination of numerous technological factors, which have to interlock, but above all depends on hard work. The editor has to travel to the set with the crew and work from morning until night. But the results are often incredible. When I worked with Jerzy Skolimowski on Four Nights With Anna, we already had the first cut two or three days after shooting had finished. It was the same with Imagine, which was in rough cut before we left Portugal. During the flight back to Poland Andrzej Jakimowski and I watched the first cut and we could already see what we had been achieved and what we still had to work on. That helps a lot and is also very satisfying.