What I Learned from Walter Murch

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Christy Conyers
MPTP 253
What I Learned from Walter Murch

Walter Murch has been working in Hollywood as a sound and film editor since 1969 when he started on Francis Coppola’s film, The Rain People. Since then he has edited sound on American Graffiti (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), won his first Academy Award nomination for The Conversation (1974), won his first Oscar for Apocalypse Now (1979), and won an unprecedented double Oscar for sound and film editing for his work on The English Patient. Michael Ondaatje interviews Murch about his experiences as a sound and film editor in the book The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. Through reading this book I found out what an editor does before the movie is even shot. I also learned some techniques from Murch that I may try to implement in my own editing process. The editor can be involved in a project even well before the film is shot. Murch talks about meeting with the director about the script, commenting and saying how he thinks the story could improve. Writing notes about the script helps Murch “see into the project” and “get under its skin.” It honestly surprised me when Murch said that editors could have power over the movie before shooting even starts. Personally I had always figured that editors just had to make due with the script and edit what was given to them. This makes me think that my involvement with the script writing process for our project “The Event” was not out of the ordinary for an editor. Editors in Murch’s case can be part of the script writing process as they make comments on the script and think about how it could possibly be edited. Murch talks about the relationship between the director and editor of a film. Murch sits with the director while he watches dailies. He listens to the comments the director has to say about particular moments of the film and notes them. Murch explains that this is important because “the smallest suggestion can help...
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