Have you ever heard about the Rule of Six? It's a set of editing "rules" created by editor Walter Murch that essentially reveal the Oscar winner's creative process while in the editing room, and though he would be the first to tell you that following these criteria is more of a personal choice than a requirement, the Rule of Six can be incredibly helpful for those who want to grow in their craft.
If you've never heard about Murch's famous rules, SNL editor Adam Epstein explains them in great detail in his MZed editing course "The Cutting Edge" and luck for us, the Film Riot crew offers this portion of his presentation in the video below. Check it out!
We've covered Murch's Rule of Six here a couple of times, but Epstein, being not only the editor for Documentary Now! but an SNL alum as well offers plenty of excellent insider advice on how to approach each "rule" in your own work.
Perhaps the greatest insight he shares, though, is that there are no rules when it comes to editing. You can still edit great work without following any of Murch's criteria—except for maybe one. He explains that there is one rule out of the six that will always be true no matter what you're working on and that's the first one: emotion.
The next time you're editing, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- How will this cut affect my audience emotionally?
- Are the emotions of this scene guiding my editing choices?
If you're interested in getting more editing advice, I highly suggest checking out "The Cutting Edge." I attended the course a few years ago when Epstein's tour went through San Francisco and it was definitely worth the turbulent flight and $80 cab fare to get to the event.