Here is the latest in our series of Q&A's, helping fans to get to know the behind-the scenes people responsible for Heartland. It takes a talented crew as well as a talented cast to put together a good television series, so this week you get to ask a question to someone who literally puts the show together. Click through to find out a little more about what an editor does, AND to ask him a question!
Meet Ken Filewych, one of two editors who work on Heartland. Ken, along with Jane Morrison, alternate the editing chores on the series, with each of them cutting two episodes at a time. Ken will be the editor for the first two episodes of Season 4, then Jane will be the editor for episodes 403 and 404. This will continue throughout the entire season.
Ken and Jane are part of what is called the post-production team. They - along with assistant editors Todd Buttenham and Duane Martin - are the ones who edit Heartland.
Now, normally I would write "Here you go!" and let you ask your question(s), but a lot of people don't know what it is that an editor does, exactly, so I'm going to expand on that a bit. Don't you love it when the shows you love are educational as well as entertaining??? :)
A film editor is responsible for putting together the final product as a sequence consisting of raw camera footage shots, dialogue, sound effects and graphics. Working in the production office (it's rare that the editors are actually on set) the editor works closely with the director and the producers to ensure each episode is as good as it can be.
The Swedish word for film editor is "klippare," which references the days when the actual film was cut or clipped and spliced together to form the scenes. Since the early 1990s, with the advancement of digital technology, special computer software and high-quality digitization of sound and pictures have effectively replaced the old manual method of cutting film. Although a lot of television series are shot digitally, Heartland is still photographed on actual film. Each day's takes are digitized onto disks and Ken loads them onto his computer and then he's ready to edit the show!
For every minute you watch on Heartland there is over 10 minutes of unused footage that never finds its way onto the screen. Scenes are shot many times from different angles, focussing on different cast members or situations, and it's Ken's job to make sure that only the best and appropriate takes of each scene are used.
I know some of you watch episodes of Heartland more than once, but an editor will watch a scene dozens and even hundreds of times to ensure that it has been edited just right.
Editing is much more involved than just making sure the shots that follow each other in a sequence flow properly. If you watch the first footage of episode 318 you see five shots edited together that have no dialogue but give us a LOT of information.
1) A long shot panning across Heartland, following Amy at dawn as she rides Spartan to the main gate of the ranch.
2) A closer shot of Amy bending down to open the mailbox.
3) A closeup of Amy from the front as she starts to look at the letters.
4) An extreme closeup of the letters - we can see one is from the "Ring of Fire" organization.
5) A close up of Amy's face as she thinks about this
Although these 5 shots take up less than 15 seconds of screen time each one was shot more than once and how long each shot lasts is one of many important decisions that have to be made in the editing room.
When there is dialogue the decisions are equally important. When someone delivers a long line of dialogue, quite often - although you still hear the line - the visual will cut to a character or characters listening to what is being said, because this helps us better understand the scene, knowing not only what is being spoken, but how the lines are being received.
There are dozens of different reasons a shot is edited the way it is, and I think you'll agree Heartland's editors do an awesome job.
So now you can ask one of them anything about what he does! Ken is looking forward to your questions, and I'm going to give you the rest of the week to post them. You'll see Ken's answers go up sometime next week.