Film Editing: Introduction

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The first Academy Awards were handed out on May 16, 1929, just after the advent of "talkies." By 1930, enthusiasm was so great that a Los Angeles radio station did a live, one-hour broadcast, and the Awards have enjoyed broadcast coverage ever since.

The number and types of awards have grown and changed over the years to keep up with the development of the motion picture industry. Since 1981, Awards of Merit—Oscars®—have been presented in each of the following categories or their sub-divisions: acting, art direction, cinematography, costume design, directing, feature and short documentary film, film editing, foreign language film, make-up, music, best picture, best animated and best live-action short film, sound, sound-effects editing, visual effects and writing. In 2002, the very first award for animated feature was presented. In an age when awards shows are commonplace, the Academy Awards are unique because the judges—Academy members—are top filmmakers from around the world. The question, "Who gets the Oscar?" is decided by a true jury of peers.

With the exception of Best Picture, which is decided by the entire Academy, and the foreign language film and feature animation categories, which are selected by special viewing committees, nominations are determined by a secret ballot of Academy members representing each craft. All active Academy members vote to select the final winners in every category.

The awards nomination and selection process provides a wonderful opportunity to teach your students about the many craft areas—and the many communications techniques—that play a part in creating a motion picture. Filmmaking is by nature a collaborative process, with each craft area supporting and being supported by others. Because our space is limited, this kit focuses on just one of those areas-film editing.

Selecting Films for Student Viewing

Students may select the films they wish to view for the following activities, or you may wish to suggest films that are appropriate.

The following films have won Academy Awards for film editing, are available on videotape, and may be appropriate for your students: Titanic (1997), Apollo 13 (1995), The Last Emperor (1987), Star Wars (1977), Forrest Gump (1994), and Schindler's List (1993). Other classic films that won for editing include Dances With Wolves (1990), The Right Stuff (1983), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Rocky (1976), The Sound of Music (1965), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), West Side Story (1961), and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

Film Editing: Manipulating Time and Space

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Complete Film Editing Activities Guide (PDF)

Activity 1: Film Editing Terminology

Activity 2: Writing with Images

Activity 3: Creating Meaning

Activity 4: Learning from the Best

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