INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR EDOUARD ALVADO

SHORT BIO OF THE EDITOR:

After studying cinema, Edouard Alvado, started his carrier by working on some music video clips where he discovered several kinds of professions in the cinema industry. He worked with several French artists and some Americans like the singer The Game.

It was only in 2013 that he decided to specialize himself in the editing field by working on more than 60 music video clips with different artists and some advertising. Today he continues to work on editing and more specifically in the beauty and luxury field.

In 2018 he met the Director Sabine Crossen, who trusted him with the editing of her short film Resurrection, which has already won 13 awards in different festivals of the world.


  •  When did you decide that you wanted to be an editor? Did you try your hand at any other type of filmmaking positions?

I wanted to become an editor in 2006, but it is only in 2014 that I really decided to specialize myself in editing. I tried other types of filmmaking positions in order to better understand them and really discover all the possibilities. I did all the following : best boy, runner, set designer, 1st AD, assistant camera,  colorist, graphic designer, director of photography, production assistant, production manager,and finally director. I kind of experienced all the possible positions. It was really interesting and helped me to discover all the issues that can experience someone on the field, which also improved my communication with my co-workers as I understood the stress that they might feel during a project. I learned to put myself in their shoes. At the end, I chose editing as it was really meaningful to me : I was the first person among 7 billion people to assist to the birth of a movie on screen.

  • How do you prepare to start editing (organizing scenes, takes, files and folders)?

I have a very military process when it comes to organization and preparation of editing. I think this was transmitted to me by the way my father and my mentors educated me. As everyone, I wish to obtain the best result, but I also wish to make a traceability of the project. Meaning that I need that the process of editing a project is visible day by day. Each step is numbered, classified by date and I make a different file for each step which goes from the beginning of the project with the acquisition of the rushes, the synchronization of the rushes, the selection, the editing until the mastering. When I’m in the phase of preparation, I look at all the rushes, even those notified as inconvenient in the script report because sometimes an image can be hiding there and give to the film a new vision. For me nothing is to be thrown away, everything can be transformed. My guide is first of all the point of view and intentions of the Director.

  • How do you decide when/where to make a cut?

It depends on many things and the type of project. I work mainly on advertisements for luxury brands like Lancôme, Dior or Yves Saint Laurent and knowing where and how to cut is really important in this kind of projects because you need to give as much information as possible in a really short time. You play more on a visual performance than on a narrative one. For films, it is completely different, you work more on the narrative side, on how to explain and tell the story of the film, on how to expose the uniqueness of the story. But the most important for me is the idea and the feeling that we want to pass to the viewer. There must be a correlation between intentions, staging, and the situation in a sequence to decide whether or not a cut is necessary.  For example, in a situation with several characters which involves several axes of camera, it could happen to me to let live at a precise moment a plan on an actor to capture his reaction. This is something that I really like to practice in editing: putting out of scope as much dialogue as possible and allowing the reactions of the characters in real time to follow their emotional transformation. I’m thinking about a scene from the movie “Je ne suis pas un salaud” (“A Decent man”) in which Nicolas Duvauchelle must testify about his aggression and when he goes to confession he recognizes that the accused is not his aggressor. To show this tilting, the camera remains on him until the end of the sequence.

  •  How can editing change the tone or emotion?

I strongly believe that the emotion in a film results from what I like to call a perfect symbiosis between image and sound. One cannot do without the other, which is why I don’t like to call myself an image editor. On the contrary, being passionate about film music and the sound universe I like to give firm intentions to the sound editor, the mixer and sometimes to the composer on how I would like to see the film in its sound dimension. My goal is not to encroach on their work, on the contrary, it is to give them leads so that they improve them. Very often, we have achieved surprising results. The power of music, sound punctuation all in rhythm with the movements, the reactions of the character and the cuts are a good way to generate an emotion or to transform an emotion.

  • What kind of problems come up during editing?

There are several but some have really helped me to move forward. The first difficulty I encountered was not having visible direction on the structure of the film when watching the rushes.I told myself that there was too much possibilities which did not helped to understand the intentions of the director. It also happened to me to receive additional scenes which were improvised during the shooting or, on the contrary, to end up with missing scenes while these were planned … and I’m not talking about the scenes missed by either a lack of credibility in the acting, bad light or bad framing. These are the moments when you learn to create some meaning with many problems. Another difficulty is a Director who does not know where he wants to go, we try several things but without do not see the outcome. For a small anecdote, I had to take over after another editor for an independent short film which had several intrigues, so the viewer could not really get attached to the characters. So, I proposed to refocus the story to a single intrigue and two main characters. However, the Director was always feeling some frustration and asked me to be more focused on the staging than on a story, so I ended up stopping our collaboration with no hard feelings. It’s just that my way of making a film was not the same as his. From this anecdote, I learnt that it is important to choose the right projects and therefore the right Director.

  • How does your work as the visual editor feed into the work of the sound editor?

As I explained in question 4: I give my intentions to the sound editor by mocking up the band as much as possible by adding music and FX sounds. This allows the sound team which takes over to have a working base. Sometimes they improve my basis, sometimes they offer something else instead, both ways are good for the film.

  •  With all the adjustments, how much can a movie end up deviating from the original script?

The gap between the script and the editing is sometimes gigantic. If one treats the story with words the other indicates how it is told in its reality …. There will always be a margin of error from the script simply because there is always a part of fantasy in writing. It tells a story, but a written story is not a lived story. I’m talking more about the shooting of the actors and the technical team in this case. The is not just a single person making the film, it is a team. Everyone arrives with their beliefs and values, which means that the starting story is at the end distorted. My job is to make the written story revive within its new dimension. So yes the gap is huge. The editing of “Resurrection” went even further in this process because everything had to be rewritten at this stage because of script problems. It was a difficult challenge to start from a film of more than 20 min with many dialogues and explanations, with many sequences and characters and to arrive at a version of 8min almost silent. I focused on what was simpler and stronger in the story … the pain of the character, his meeting with the waiter, the beginning of his rebirth. I had to take out all the complexity of the story, at least as much as possible, in order to leave a lot of room for the spectator’s feelings. The riskiest was to cut all the dialogues of Tony Simonneau that weighed down the story knowing that the embodiment of his character was very powerful when he remained silent. It was a great frustration but necessary for the good of the film.

  • How much creative input the editor has, or how do you get your director accept your ideas?

When collaborating with a Director I got used to being interested first of all in his point of view rather than in his ideas …. I need to know why he wants to make this film and what message he would like to give to the world with hid project. The work begins with a discussion in order to know where to look in depth, what comforts him in this story. This already allows me to have a direction in my selection of takes. If the director is not confident about his work the approach is different … I will rather make a first shot close to what he imagines in order to show him what works and what does not work. Basically, I’m not trying to impose my ideas to him, but rather to reveal in his film what he really wants but he maybe didn’t imagine.

  • Were you influenced by any directors or film editors in the development of your craft over the years?

Asian cinema inspired me a lot for the editing of fiction movies, I think about  the films of Takeshi Kitano and those of Kim Ki Duk. The first time I saw “Locataire” (“3-Iron”), I was fascinated by the very contemplative and unusual side of the film … It was for me the beginning of a connection with editing … because these films have something very intuitive which corresponds a lot to my values.

  •  Quite a few directors that once they find their editor, that’s who they continue to work with. Do you find that that’s the case with you?

Yes and no, there are so many editors on the market today because audiovisual studies have become accessible to everyone, especially since the explosion of digital. It has become rather easy today to train by watching tutorials on the internet. Of course, it is not the same as audiovisual studies, but it contributes to this multiplicity on the market. A director today has access to a plurality of talents and is so sought by everybody, after that it is difficult for him to remain faithful to only one editor and I have rarely seen a Director surrounded by only one editor. To achieve long-term collaboration, it is important to develop our psychology and our mind set in order to see the director as an artistic partner and not a superior who places you on post-production plans because you have a good portfolio. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have content in your portfolio, but I think talent is more than just technical skills and creative intelligence. What creates long-term partnership is the level of the relationship and the ability to progress together towards a common goal. The director chooses his editor but the editor also chooses his director … and from the moment we help each other grow … we no longer see the time passing.