When I was in film school in New York City (A million years ago), I had the immense fortune of learning how to edit on a 16mm Steenbeck. Yep, good ol’ film. My teacher and editing mentor who later became my close friend, Hans Dudelheim was this adorable, hilarious and brilliant film editor who taught me how to work this contraption and fortunately for me, he also shared some of his insights with me about pacing, cutting at the right time and letting the story breathe. He had a wonderful life, so many crazy and funny stories. When he died suddenly back in 2007 in a traffic accident in Puerto Rico, it was my duty to clean out his tiny Hell’s Kitchen apartment along with his daughter, it was bittersweet to find a nice bottle of Dominican rum (half way) I got for him a few weeks back next to his books. Such a wonderful man, friend, and teacher, he’s the only mentor I ever had, and it’s the only one I needed. I miss having a bunch of Dos Equis beers with Hans, I miss the back and forth interactions about storytelling we had in class when I was his teaching assistant, I just miss my friend.
Something that really stuck with me was the part of letting the story breathe, this is something I have to remind myself at times, especially having to direct and edit commercial work that gets more and more high-paced, and lightning fast with the new 6-second ads trend, nowadays a 15-second promo is an eternity to some (sigh…). But hey, that’s the current market, and I’ve been around enough to know that the market goes back and forth when it comes to duration, either way, there’s always room for pieces to stand out from the pack when it comes to duration and pacing.
When a newcomer comes to me asking about editing tips and tricks, I always ask the same thing first, “What are you reading?” and “What movies are you in to?”, you need to explore the human emotion in every single way in order to put together a story, also if you’re trying to promote a product or service, you need to find the core of the story and the emotion you want the audience to experience. I mean, that’s what we all do, we tell stories all the time, that’s how we connect with each other, finding a common interest, discovering new information or making people laugh. The same applies to what we do in the editing room, and yes some stories need to be told briefly, but most don’t need to be rushed, we need to take them in, savor them and ultimately determine how we feel about it.
I think I’ve been somewhat of a mentor to some youngins, I can only hope that I’ve delivered when put in that position, the sharing of knowledge is one of the most beautiful exchanges known to men and women.
So here’s to you Hans, you live in me through my work and my craft, there is a special spot for your warmth in my heart. Cheers, old friend.