The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

After watching THX 1138, I started reading about co-writer Walter Murch. I love how he separates his film editing from his film writing:

When I write a script, I lie down–because that’s the opposite of standing up. I stand up to edit, so I lie down to write. I take a little tape recorder and, without being aware of it, go into a light hypnotic trance. I pretend the film is finished and I’m simply describing what was happening. I start out chronologically but then skip around. Anything that occurs to me, I say into the recorder. Because I’m lying down, because my eyes are closed, because I’m not looking at anything, and the ideas are being captured only by this silent scribe–the tape recorder–there’s nothing for me to criticize. It’s just coming out.

That is my way of disarming the editorial side. Putting myself in a situation that is opposite as possible to how I edit–both physically and mentally. To encourage those ideas to come out of the woods like little animals and drink at the pool safely, without feeling that the falcon is going to come down and tear them apart.

So simple, so obvious: if you want to get some ideas out without reflexive self-editing, choose your medium and environment so it’s hard to edit. Use a tape recorder, separate digital vs. analog desks, Sharpies, index cards

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film