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Finely Sliced: Constantly Cutting with Tyler Packard


Forager editor on the importance of prep work, being a film geek and 'finding it in the edit'

Finely Sliced: Constantly Cutting with Tyler Packard

Born and raised in the American West, Tyler approaches every project with a certain grit; a bred-in-the-bone resolve to authentic storytelling and singular style.

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

Tyler> I tend to do a fair amount of homework before I really dive in; reviewing creative references, searching out inspiration in film and commercial work, collecting potential music tracks, etc. I begin by immersing myself in the shared stylistic universe of every project. This prep work helps familiarise me with the right elements to look for when I finally wade into the footage. 

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? 

Tyler> Editing in a way that intentionally evokes a certain mood or emotion all boils down to experience and taste. Like most in the industry, I’m a film geek at heart so I watch a lot of everything - movies, TV, commercials, etc. - which keeps my taste sharp. 

But most importantly, I’m always editing. Consistently cutting something is really how I’ve developed my craft the most. Ideally, every project I cut advances my abilities closer to my taste. To borrow a quote from Ira Glass, “Do a lot of work. It’s only by going through a volume of work that…your work will be as good as your ambitions.” 

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? 

Tyler> Occasionally you’ll find these little harmonies by pure luck, whether it’s a certain shot progression, musical timing, etc. But for me, rhythm is usually a more elusive animal, requiring a fair amount of experimentation and patience to find. I try to identify potential ‘beats’ when pulling selects, sketch out rough segments, and then explore how those segments might interact and flow with each other. 

Music is very helpful in building out that rough structure and often puts me in the right headspace of a scene or project. On the other hand, I’ve also learned not to give the music too much focus, especially early in the cutting process. I try to find my own rhythmic flow and ensure the visuals, music, sound effects, and dialogue/VO are all balanced into a cohesive whole.

LBB>How important is your relationship with the director and how do you approach difficult conversations when there is a creative difference of opinion (with the director or with the agency/client)? 

Tyler> Ultimately, I’m there to provide my editorial expertise and taste in executing the director’s vision, so keeping that relationship collaborative and productive is vitally important. Director style and engagement varies, so I typically follow their lead and tailor the working relationship to them. 

Creative differences of opinion are inevitable. In those moments, I strive to maintain an open mind and a willingness to explore all creative options, while also tactfully advocating for my editorial decisions. A good editor is an artist; a great editor is an artist and a diplomat. 

LBB>What’s harder to cut around – too much material or not enough? (And why?) 

Tyler> I’ll always prefer too much material; it may take more time to sift through, but that means you’ve got more options to play with and navigate to a better end result. 

LBB> Who are your editing heroes and why? What films or spots epitomise good editing for you? 

Tyler> In terms of commercial editors, there’s way too many to name and more than a few are current and former Foragers. In the feature world, I will always be floored by Margaret Sixel’s work in Fury Road. She’s spoken about what a monumental task she had wrangling that mountain of footage into a coherent film, and how the script and storyboards didn’t really line up with what was captured. She was forced to look at the material she had and just make sense of that. 

In her words, “ have no preconceived idea of what a scene should be. It's basically, ‘This is what the director shot. He might have intended something else, but this is what I feel about this footage.’ So you stay more objective.” 

I can sympathise with that, having found myself in similar circumstances many times on vastly smaller scale projects. Margaret helped craft one of the best action films of the 2010s by 'finding it in the edit'. Her Academy Award was well-deserved.

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Forager, Wed, 23 Mar 2022 09:34:45 GMT