There’s a moment in the cinema when the entire world slows - sounds become clearer, colours grow brighter, heroes rise and fall and legends are born. For lack of a better word - it’s magic. It’s what makes us call loved ones and implore them to share the experience. It’s what informs our fantasies and captures our attention more completely than almost anything else.
Behind this magic are the fantastic editors; the people who feel out the truth of the story and make sense of what to keep and what to scrap; they’re the careful watchers who take rough diamonds and cut them into ready-to-consume gems...
After 25 years in the industry, with Beyoncé videos and Sir Paul McCartney albums under his belt, Luis Moreno is an authority on what it truly means to edit with intention.
Here, the jumP Editorial owner and senior editor reveals why the creation of moving image magic lies in the relationship between an editor and the footage. Luis reveals his original film inspirations, his entry into the editorial world and shares some invaluable advice for the editors of tomorrow.
Q> You grew up in Venezuela, eventually moving to Texas and attending film school. What were those early days of falling in love with film and editing like?
Luis Moreno> Editing has always fit me more than anything else. My dad is an engineer, my mom is a businesswoman, my sister is a lawyer, my other sister is an accountant. I come from a very education-focused family, so I think it was a shock that I wanted to pursue something creative. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I knew I wanted to work in moving images.
So I began as a messenger, then an apprentice, then a cutting assistant and a cutting room editor. I had come from Venezuela to Texas, with a real love for 1940s and 1950s Argentinian, Venezuelan and Mexican movies, especially the naturalistic golden era of Mexican filmmaking. I think that was what first attracted me to the cinema - the crafting of perfect, subtly immersive moments.
Paul McCartney - Live Kisses from Jump VFX (Edited by Luis Moreno)
Q> And, what is it about editorial that speaks to you so deeply?
Luis> The first part of editing is very private - it’s quiet, it’s heady, everything is in your mind and anything is possible. The experimentation is an incredibly beautiful aspect of the edit process. The intimacy of the footage and the image and the editor is also a very special thing as you work to capture the truth of the moment. It can be messy sometimes, but it’s a craft.
Q> What do you mean by being ‘truthful to the moment’?
Luis> It’s about determining what feels right. For example, if the theme of the work is comedic, it’s about staying truthful to the reality of the comedy. It’s about having moments feel real and true - and that can take some intense digging to arrive at. A tenth of a second can dampen a sentiment, ruin a joke or kill something beautiful. A moment can be lost in a matter of frames. It’s our job as editors to ensure that the work is elevated and celebrated to its fullest potential.
For editors, the true challenge is in having a creative vision that you feel strongly about and seeing that through. It’s never about throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, it has to come from a place of knowledge and power. None of the cuts we make are random, they breathe with meaning.
Q> Is this edit integrity something you try to impress upon the young editors you mentor?
Luis> Absolutely, they need to understand why they are making certain creative choices and then have the ability to defend that decision further downstream. I really want them to understand why and how they got to the place they did, particularly in ‘why this frame, and not the next frame over,’ conversations. Because that’s what clients want to know - that these are the correct choices for the project. They want our reassurance that the work we do is backed up my logic and expertise and craft - which of course, it is.
But, fundamentally, once I see potential in someone, I really try to draw that out and push them forward for success in whatever is they want to do. Which is absolutely not to say that they have to edit like me, but about figuring out what their creative space is and giving them that lift to make sure they feel confident enough to grow and learn.
Beyonce - Haunted from Jump VFX (Edited by Luis Moreno)
Q> You’ve been in the edit suite with some pretty big names - what was it like to work with Sir Paul McCartney and Beyoncé?
Luis> I helped edit a long format programme with Sir Paul. We edited together and edited the music together - it was probably one of the greatest moments in my career. To discuss his perception of the work and to spend time with somebody like that, who is so intelligent and so thoughtful, was unbelievable. I was ready for a big opportunity like it - but I was very lucky for it to happen.
That year was a bit of a roll really - a little later we worked on part of Beyoncé’s very first secret album. We edited two songs for her with her people and her team and it was an incredible experience. When she dropped the album, she dropped all 12 videos at the same time and it was really the first time the world had experienced a stunt like that. It was fantastic to see where all the work goes to.
Q> Where’s the editorial world heading?
Luis> I really think the craft will be the same. The big differentiator going forward will be the people who really understand the process and can excel at detecting it and capturing the truth of what they’re cutting. In all honesty, I think it’s what businesses look like technologically that will change far more.