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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Editing Class 6: Narrative from Action [non-fiction film]

Today we looked at how we can use a classic fiction structure formula to construct a narrative out of unchoreographed and unplanned footage. The formula is as depicted in the image below. I will discuss how I approached this task in class today.

  • I first skimmed through the footage, familiarising myself with key moments.

  • While doing so, I also tagged certain bits of the footage with different colours and wrote into my notes what I had identified in each one.

  • I would differentiate bits of footage by depictions of community, unidentified single characters (i.e. a group of people), and also footage that focused on particular characters.

  • I decided on which character I found was the most gripping, and also had the most coverage to attempt to construct this narrative structure with, and so I started putting shots onto the timeline

  • In setting up the shots, I chose shots that hinted at who the subject of exploration was going to be but mostly pursued shots of the community that the character was a part of. After establishing the group, what they do, and the subject matter's presence, I searched for moments in the footage where I could construct the climaxes/crescendos.

  • I found this to be very difficult. The footage was in a language I was unfamiliar with, so I had to work without that knowledge and read into their facial expressions and body language.

  • As this group of people dedicated themselves to a very dangerous task, I tried to identify areas of the footage that clearly demonstrated that danger, and tactically put that into the timeline.

  • While I was able to loosely structure this narrative in the time that I had, it showed the importance of planning and communication between departments. For example, if this documentary footage was filmed in earlier stages when the crew were able to seek more footage, the editor could play with the footage to identify its weakest areas and what could be filmed or at least attempted to film with the documentary to make the film better and increasingly attentive.

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