After several crazy weeks, I finally got my cut out the door. I finished off the episode on Sunday morning and sent it to my show runner, who happily sent it off to the network. Now, I’m moving on to the next episode.

One thing I really like about this show is that since it is so heavy on reenactments I get to cut in a more cinematic fashion. The show doesn’t rely on flashy effects and rapid fire cutting. It is allowed to breathe, well placed cuts dominate the timeline. There are moments where I use things like light leaks, but only when I want a specific look, such as for a flashback. Like Ghost Hunters, this show is all about building and maintaining tension. We build up to good old fashioned scares through the use of varied pacing, clever use of POV shots, and of course a lot of music and sound design work.

The music on this show is really fantastic. While I am cutting I work with temp music from prior episodes. This is a show that utilizes the talents of a composer and gets an actual score for each episode. When I’m cutting I choose from tracks that he had composed previously. While this music will likely be replaced, it is important for me to find the right tone. Because of the cinematic nature of the show, I choose a theme that I can come back to several times during the episode. A recurring theme helps viewers understand what is happening in the story without needing to constantly spell it out for them. Variations on the theme can tell you if the mood is happy, sad, scared, etc. I prefer this method over the typical method of cutting in a bunch of canned music that I hear on dozens of other shows. On so many shows there is a mandate to not repeat music within the episode, but for a docudrama that approach would be wrong.

Today I’m in a holding pattern as I wait for my next episode to arrive. This one is a bit different than the last as I’ll be taking over the cut from another editor. It’s not ideal, but things don’t always go as planned in this business. The ability to adapt to stressful situations is important.

On a completely unrelated note, my wife got back from Ecuador last Monday! She had a great trip and worked really hard on all of her projects, but she’s happy to be home and I’m happy to have her back.


About danwolfmeyer

Dan is a Freelance Film/TV editor in Los Angeles, California. He lives on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley with his wife and a whole bunch of dogs, cats, horses, ponies, lizards, fish, and one single black sheep. Dan has been editing in the documentary and news genres for over 15 years. He is passionate about film and television and would love to make the move into narrative film and TV, while still retaining the option to edit fascinating documentary projects. (Hire him, really you won't regret it.) He aspires to have a career like Michael Kahn or Sally Menke.
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