EDITING: Structural Editing vs. Relational Editing
Editing is really where the rubber meets the road in filmmaking. Good editorial can make a good film great or a mediocre film good. The converse is also true, as poor editing can diminish a film. Good editors make actors look better, and bad editors can make a good performance look terrible.
Editing is a HUGE topic, from both a technical standpoint to an artistic one, but in keeping with this topic being a "primer" I thought I'd simply introduce the topic of structural editing as opposed to relational editing to those who may be unaware of it. These are concepts put forth by Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Soviet film director and theorist little known outside film school circles but highly influential on many directors.
is merely chaining shots together to make a sequence, which is by and large what fan films do. That is, they simply cut shots together in the most straightforward manner to tell the story. In a way, this analogous to a multi-camera live shoot like a sitcom, where different cameras are switched to as needed, so like an episode of The Golden Girls, where Camera 1 is a wide shot encompassing the entire table at which the girls are having cheesecake, Cameras 2 and 3 are set to do closeups, so the editor switches to 1 when they all sit down, to 2 to cover Dorothy talking, etc. The sequence is proscribed by the script, and the coverage specifically works through the sequence of the scene.
So, while sequential editing is the most straightforward way to tell a story on film, it's often frequently the least interesting. It's akin to watching a play and using your opera glasses to zoom in on specifics. The scene plays out in a very linear fashion in real time you can zoom in and out and that's all.
is where film really flexes its muscles and differentiates itself from other art forms with its ability to abruptly change POV, intercut between simultaneous actions in different places, compare and contrast events over time, create visual metaphors, etc.
The image above is a link to a nice, concise 11:45 video which illustrates the basics of Pudovkin's five examples of relational editing,
It's worth watching even if you're not an editor
Pudovkin's books, Film Technique (1933) and Film Acting (1935), are available as a free download on the Internet Archive here (link).