The Surprises Behind Documentary Editing

Many filmmakers are familiar with the phrase “documentaries are made in the editing room”. It doesn’t matter how much you plan your interviews, once you sit with your editor to start cutting, you’ll many times realize you have a story that’s new even to yourself, and that’s the beauty of documentary filmmaking: the surprises.

The editor Fernanda Schein describes cutting a documentary as one of the most enjoyable challenges of filmmaking. Currently as the Head of Post-Production crew of the on-going documentary Iron Grit, by the American director Jamel Jackson, Fernanda said that even though she had opportunities of editing documentaries before, this has been the first one she decided to actually take. “I always wanted to cut a documentary, but I believed that to join one, I should really believe and support its message and that hasn’t been something that I had crossed paths with until now”.

She says that diving deeply in Iron Grit has changed the way she sees the world. With a strong message of racial union and equality, Schein even points out that this is being one of her most enjoyable jobs. “I had read the script, but when I finally got a hold of the interviews, I realized picking up the best and most important quotes of each one was like digging gold, exhausting but very rewarding.”

For Schein, the surprises and unexpected stories that show up along with the footage are very welcoming, and can be used as ways to enrich the narrative and bring the audience closer to the interviewees, making it easier to keep them hooked on the film. Iron Grit has a supposed release date planned for the end of the year, but with no official notes from the production just yet.

As far as of Fernanda’s next moves, after Iron Grit, she’s still uncertain. Most of her career was concentrated on fiction narrative editing and high-budget television commercials, but exploring the documentary world gave her a taste of new challenges that she describes as exactly what she came to LA hoping to find. Her portfolio includes great Brazilian Filmmakers like Gabriel Rubim and Pepe Mendina, for whom she worked respectively, editing video campaigns for the Brazilian Federal Government, and in Brazilian-American co-productions recently shot in California. Even so, Schein alleges she doesn’t like staying in her comfort zones and she’s ready to take all the challenging opportunities the City of Angels has been showing her.

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