DEGNZ member Chia Chi Hsu answers some questions about her experience shadowing Millie Lies Low editor Dan Kircher and what she learnt from the mentorship. Chia was selected in 2020 to take part in our Drama Editor Attachment Scheme, funded by Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission.
For anyone who hasn’t done an attachment, what does being a drama editor attachment through DEGNZ mean in a nutshell?
An opportunity for an up close look at the editorial aspects of a drama production, and be privy to meetings and discussions between the editor and others involved that one might not have the experience of attending before.
You finished your editor attachment not long ago. How long was your attachment and what was your schedule like with Dan Kircher?
The sessions were widely spread out so I got to see a bit of everything, from the rough cut stage till the end of the project. The attachment took well over a year because of Covid, but the lengthy period allowed me to take in and put to use what I had observed.
What’s something you learnt from Dan while observing him work with director Michelle Savill?
Always be prepared and be open to communication. Also I saw a good deal of trust and respect between Dan and Michelle, from which I think the film really benefited.
What was your experience like in later parts of the process?
Similar to earlier but just observing different aspects of the process. Also, I saw that the editor’s involvement carries on well after the locked cut; apart from colour grading and sound, Dan also helped with music clearance. I think being able to see a project through to the end must be very satisfying.
How has your attachment helped you with work that you’re doing?
During the attachment, I happened to be working on a web series. Bit by bit, what I had picked up from the attachment, I was able to apply them directly to what I was working on: from how to organise a project for a drama, how to tackle the notes, to tactfully dealing with tricky situations.
What’s one thing you discovered about feature film editing that was different to what you imagined?
How the extent of an editor’s involvement can facilitate the editorial process, and that being an editor is more than having the technical skills but also being able to communicate well, manage expectations, problem solve, all of which contributes to how well a film will turn out.
How do you think your attachment has contributed to your development as an editor?
With the many solid skills I have picked up during the attachment, I think they are helping me to be more confident, knowing that I have a few more tools under the belt, and more equipped to deal with projects on a larger scale.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a feature drama film at the moment, alongside Dan! The new project started just as the attachment ended, as if the attachment has continued on!
Chia Chi Hsu entered post production in mid-2015 as an assistant editor to documentaries, working with veteran filmmakers and editors on films and series, including Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, Yellow is Forbidden and Dark Tourist, among others. Her work includes editing on short film Memory Foam, web series Inked, the TVNZ anthology series episode Giving Up the Ghost; additional editor on Yellow is Forbidden and The Girl on the Bridge.
The DEGNZ Drama Editor Attachment Scheme was initiated to give emerging drama editors the opportunity to advance their craft through shadowing and mentoring from an experienced drama editor. Recipients learn through attendance during editing and later, at director, producer and/or funding body screenings, about the critique and response process so vital to the successful creative collaboration required of the feature film editor. The scheme is made possible thanks to funding from the New Zealand Film Commission.