The importance of good film and script editing

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Beth Curran gets an insight into the world of comedy filmmaking…

It’s no secret that creating a funny and well produced comedy is hard to do. Luckily, for those who attended COFILMIC presents The Final Cut at Cornerhouse, a panel of industry experts came along to share their inside tips on how best to write and edit a comedic film.

The event was an informative yet laid back affair, which combined a series of talks with a live performance and mixed film clips. Managing director of COFILMIC Janet Harrison introduced the evening by spreading the word of COFILMIC, a Manchester based short film festival which aims at nurturing British comedic talent.

As part of the event, script consultant Michael Jacob took to the stage and shared his opinions on how to write a good comedy. As well as giving a talk, he took a practical approach, enlisting a group of actors to read out a script live on stage. After the performance had finished, it was our job as an audience to critique the dialogue and see if we could improve upon it.

Film editor Anton Short also gave an interesting presentation on the importance of timing and decision making when it comes to editing comedic film. By playing his own film clips (before the edit and after) the audience could better understand the vital yet invisible role of clever editing.

Some great advice was shared during the evening too. For example, a good comedy scene must lead with its best card, in other words it must be inviting. The first thirty seconds are crucial in catching and maintaining the attention of the audience. The scene must also be edited as succinctly as possible, without compromising the original script. Each speaker emphasised the importance of standing back and keeping an objective eye in order to retain only the essential and effective punchlines. Or, as it was so eloquently put on the night, ‘kill your babies’ (not literally of course). What they mean is, if a joke doesn’t contribute to the story of the scene, take it out, as much as it hurts to do so.

In a nutshell, the session gave practical solutions to problems that might occur in the key stages of script writing and film production. For those in the audience with aspirations towards this career, it was an invaluable hands-on workshop that was definitely worth attending. For others like myself, it was a fascinating insight into the world of comedy filmmaking.

COFILMIC presents The Final Cut was an event part of exposures festival which continues until Thur 23 Feb. The full festival programme can be found here.