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Welcome to all things Labragirl & media literacy. In this blog we are going to talk about filmmaking resources, show behind the scenes at our shoots, and feature student films.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review: Mzed & The Cutting Edge with Adam Epstein

Summary

If you don’t have time to read my full review here’s a quick summary:

The Cutting Edge is a downloadable film editing workshop from Mzed. It’s perfect for media editors from beginner to seasoned professionals, filmmakers who want to learn more about editing, students, SNL fans, and film geeks.

Mzed’s The Cutting Edge with Adam Epstein is fun, inspiring, and well worth the money. I highly recommend you download it now. 

See below for a full review of The Cutting Edge.

Full Review

Before I start my review I must provide a disclaimer: I love Mzed. Mzed’s mission to develop an environment and community with top-notch creative education is in alignment with Labragirl’s mission and, on a practical level, the knowledge I have gained from several Mzed tours has served Labragirl well. Many thanks, Mzed

I discovered Mzed a little over a year ago when I received an email invite to attend Shane Hurlbut’s Illumination Experience Tour. Although I wasn’t entirely sure what the format of the class would be, my expectations were high. I was excited. The night before the workshop I carefully laid out my clothes, packed my lunch, and gathered my tattered filmmaking notebook and favorite pen. The day of the workshop felt like a combination of Christmas morning and when I stepped onto the plane to go to film school many years ago. The bar was set high and Hurlbut’s workshop surpassed my expectations. The Illumination Experience was intense, action-packed, and filled with both technical and artistic information. 
 

Because Mzed instructors are tremendously accomplished in their fields, the theory, exercises, concepts, and vocational information are all relayed within the instructor's practical experiences. For me, this is a very effective teaching methodology and also makes for a fun experience. In addition to Hurlbut’s workshop, I attended the Sound Advice Tour and Alex Buono’s Visual Storytelling 2.  Each tour provided a fun experience, networking (I’ve met some inspirational and talented people), and a wealth of knowledge. 

The Cutting Edge with Adam Epstein


 

Given my experiences with Mzed, I was jazzed when asked to write a review of Adam Epstein’s The Cutting Edge. Editing was my first filmmaking love. It was my jam. I remember many summer nights spent locked in the editing room with a few like minded film nerds cutting a class exercise. The scene—which was in 16mm actual hard film—involved Jerry Lewis buying a plane ticket from the Jolly Fats Weehawken airline counter and we spent hours and hours cutting as if an Oscar were on the line. The chance to take a deep dive into editing with an Mzed instructor was certainly something I was happy to do. I was also curious what the download would be like compared to attending the tour. 

The Class

If you are a student, aspiring editor, professional editor, filmmaker, or film studies aficionado I highly recommend Adam Epstein’s The Cutting Edge. Like Mzed’s other programming, this is a deep dive into a specific area of filmmaking, in this case: film editing. Because Epstein is a working and skilled editor his tour through the creative and business film editing processes is told within the context of his experiences. This makes for not only a fun and compelling story, but also a more robust and practical workshop. Epstein begins the program with an overview of the editing process, outlines his background, and then moves into the mechanics and technology of the editing process—all the while stressing the importance of collaboration. I found this theme to be a good reminder and shift in perspective. When editing it’s all too easy to get tunnel vision and lose focus of the larger picture. Epstein continues to takes you through the editing process using SNL films he cut as examples. This is certainly a bonus of this course and Mzed classes, in general. It’s helpful to learn from a pro and it’s even more illuminating to learn the actual process the filmmaker went through to create a piece. The course wraps with two sessions about editing theory and the creative process. The evening session was truly spectacular and stands on its own, but the day created a foundation on which to understand and enjoy the evening session.

The Instructor

I found The Cutting Edge to be both motivational and practical. I really enjoy the deep dives into the subject matter that Mzed workshops offer and I’ve found Mzed’s instructors to be passionate and skilled teachers. Epstein and his workshop certainly fit this description. I do not know him personally so I can’t say whether or not Epstein loves his craft, but it’s abundantly clear he respects the craft, its history, and the process. His command of film editing and his larger respect for the power of the medium was impressive and, in my opinion, raises the level of the course and his instruction.  

He unapologetically steers clear of operating system and software debates and dives right into editing the process—one of the strengths of the workshop. In the evening session, Epstein explores several editing principles and adeptly puts in his two cents about how to both use and break these rules to be better editors and filmmakers. He makes abstract and difficult concepts clear and easy to process.

I suspected I would miss being at the actual tour and I did, however if you can’t go or the tour has passed the DVD downloads are almost like being there. At the tour you can ask questions and there are often illuminating side conversations. Epstein strikes me as a person who would be happy to geek out with anyone about random editing and filmmaking things. Hopefully there will be a The Cutting Edge II. What do you think Mzed? Epstein?  Any thoughts about coming through Denver again? 

 My take-aways:

  • It was great to see how many prominent female editors there are/were in Hollywood. I had no idea.

  • Epstein’s conversation about focusing on the emotional arc versus the minutia of continuity helped me shift perspectives.  I am certainly guilty of focusing too much on the physical continuity.

  • I’m no longer afraid of Adobe After Effects.

  • It was helpful to learn more about comedic timing. Note: I’m still laughing about the cat video!

  • We are going to name Labragirl’s editing suite - Steve, or maybe Henry.  (Download the videos to find out what i’m talking about!)

Two thumbs up. 5 stars. Download now.

Moving Images. Moving Forward,

Laurie

laurie@labragirlfilmproject.org