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Finely Sliced: Building the Tone with Gianluigi Carella


Forager editor on why emotion and technique are inexorably tied

Finely Sliced: Building the Tone with Gianluigi Carella

Based in Los Angeles, Gianluigi is an Italian filmmaker with an elevated film approach and visually stunning stories. 

From a very young age he found a passion for digital art and media, spending endless hours studying and mastering his craft. Gianluigi’s style is punchy and distinctive. He often focuses on heavy editorial manipulation that feels natural. He takes pride in ensuring technical perfection and beauty in harmonious balance, which is clear in his work with Riot Games x Mercedes, his global campaign for Alexander Wang x Uniqlo, his Amazon prime video original doc starring Benjamin Mascolo and Bella Thorne, or his series of films for LUX HOTELS.

LBB> ​The first cut is the deepest: how do you like to start an editing project?

Gianluigi> There is no right answer really. It depends on the film and the deadline.

On longer films with comfortable timelines, I usually like to have some research time for inspiration. I watch other media and listen to music to build the tone in my head before even touching the keyboard. 

With tighter deadlines, there is no time to breathe, and you have to start right away. Impeccable project organization and a big round of selects is key. 


LBB> ​Non-editors often think of editing just in technical terms but it’s integral to the emotion and mood of a film. How did you develop that side of your craft?

Gianluigi> Well, the thing is that once all the preliminary steps of prep and project organisation are on point, and especially when the research material is beefy, you start editing and enter a state of trance. You became the creator crafting a new universe. 

Each editor works in a different way. The output, the look and the feel depend on emotional choices that are inevitably dictated by the tools we use. Every editor has a customized set of plugins, sound effects library, tricks and secrets that give an imprint to the film. 

Thus, I would say that emotion and technique are inexorably tied. Editing is the science of building emotions.

A science that demands both years of experience, infinite finessing, mastery, and keeping the digital tools required for the job updated.

When you see it (the emotion, the catharsis).. the music that connects perfectly to the visuals, all of the layers of sound design and the clips overplayed in the form of a big chunk of colored bricks on your timeline - you feel this rush, you start shaking because it is so beautiful. You know what to do and you need to have the guts to push hard and keep working with precision even when you just want to keep playing the same segment over and over in a loop because it is “just too cool”. 

But once you’ve done it and you finally replay it for the first time, it is the satisfaction of a god that created a world. 

LBB> ​How important is an understanding of story and the mechanics of story?

Gianluigi> Again, it really depends on the project and what kind of editor you are. I personally rejected story for many years to prioritize mood and feel. But the more I grow and move forward, the more I see that bigger jobs with bigger creative teams usually require strong attention to story arcs and messages. 

Especially on commercial work, there is a certain anxiety to stick to the storyboard and script that the client and agency approved. Sometimes production can get hectic and things don’t always go as planned on set. It is on us to find a way around gaps and really patch it up creatively in order to deliver something that meets the needs and expectations. 

Story mechanisms are something that you learn a lot by simply doing, and that is also dictated by personal taste. Ending a scene on a wide shot, for example, usually releases the tension and it is a very commonly accepted praxis, but I think especially nowadays rules are broken and it’s all about intention and message. That, of course, depends on the client and project.

LBB> ​Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing (even when it’s a film without actual music) – how do you think about the rhythm side of editing, how do you feel out the beats of a scene or a spot? And do you like to cut to music?

Gianluigi> I think the very essence of editing is rhythm. It’s something that never ceases to refine. It takes hours and hours. 

The whole editing process, outside of the screen, is a very rhythmic performance. Click. Click. Space bar.. space bar.. click and drag… space bar.. space bar. 

Ctrl+C - Ctrl+D. Space bar.

Morse code. A hidden language. I know an editor that is also a drummer and programmed a gaming pedal as a blade tool to cut. I think that says it all?

LBB> ​Tell us about a recent editing project that involved some interesting creative challenges.

Gianluigi> I recently worked on a DUNE x ESPN piece directed by the Roos Brothers. 

It involved heavy VFX work. Overall the piece required meticulous attention to detail and huge mental work to find the proper rhythm in absence of key elements that would then be added in VFX. Not to mention guidelines and specs that made the AE go insane. 

Every job that involves heavy CG or VFX is fundamentally challenging because it requires a creative pre-visualization approach that can sometimes really put you in a difficult position as an editor: using placeholders or doing rough previz work is not something everyone is comfortable with and that makes the overall process really bumpy. Especially because most clients can’t quite provide essential feedback on something that is not there yet. Personally, I find it satisfying to be involved in similar projects. I have the luck of having a solid VFX background, and doing previz is fun because then you get to see the difference between what you did and what the VFX house comes up with, it gives an entire new life to the piece. Sometimes for the worst, you’d be surprised! 

LBB> ​Which commercial projects are you proudest of and why?

Gianluigi> My Mercedes X Riot Games is definitely my proudest baby from this year. Shot overnight in Iceland, footage was shipped also overnight with slingshot - I had it the following morning ready to go. Less than a week for delivery. VFX on every single shot. The project had been updated until 1hour from release. I did all editorial, VFX, and conform with no AE. It was all worth it. 

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Forager, Fri, 11 Feb 2022 10:10:00 GMT