Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Editor Jamie Cobb

Jamie Cobb is a freelance editor with a renewed focus in cutting narrative features. You can learn more about her at or chat her up on twitter @jamiecobbeditor.

What is the current project you are working on?

I am currently cutting a proof of concept titled, LUCID for The Sabi Company. The story, the style, and the cinematography are very different than any project I have edited before, so Iʼm being challenged in a new way and learning a lot.

Did you always want to be an editor?

When you are only watching movies, and not helping to make them, editing can be an invisible job. So it wasnʼt on my younger selfʼs radar. But I did tell my Dad at the age of nine that I wanted to go to film school and eight years later I went.

What inspired you to become an editor?

During my Junior and Senior years of High School I was in a Radio/TV class. Everyone was supposed to rotate through all of the different positions, but somehow I was always the editor in my group. I didnʼt realize at the time how comfortable I was in that role, but after trying out all of the other departments during my freshman year of film school, I knew that editing was the place for me.

What is the best thing about being one?

You get to help shape the story, one small decision at a time. You start with 40-50 hours of footage on an average feature and widdle that time down by choosing the right performance, the right shot, and the right frame. Always asking yourself, is this part of the story clear? Should it be? Is this scene taking too long? Is it adding anything to the story? Does this need music or is it better without it? Does this set the right tone? This is the “best performance” but is it the “best” for the story? How will the audience react to this? Maybe that will go better over there? How can I love that beat so much, yet it totally ruins the story? etc, etc. All while watching the cut over and over again, trying to hold on to that gut instinct and objectivity that you had the first time you watched the dailies. Until all of those billions of little choices some how turn into a 90 minute movie.

In short, the challenge of it.

What is the worst thing about being one?

I get frustrated when people donʼt understand or respect the post process. Itʼs not just about hitting a few buttons on the keyboard and putting two shots next to each other. Itʼs about keeping the whole flow of the story in balance, and it takes a lot of time, patience, and thought to do it well. You donʼt have to understand what I do, just give me the time and respect to do it right.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

Narratively speaking, I have cut 1 feature and roughly 6 short films, with hopes of cutting my next feature this fall. Professionally, I have cut several behind the scenes documentaries and DVD commentaries for the studios. You can check out my freelance credits at

Who is your favorite editor?

Anne V. Coates has cut everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Out of SIght. She has beat out other editors on projects because cutting a good dialogue scene interests her more than cutting the action scenes. And a director once referred to her as the editor with heart, which I think is the ultimate compliment.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

Everybody has a different path, and there is no easy way that I have found. But if you have decided that filmmaking is where you need to be, work hard, be friendly, and stay the course. Donʼt quit when it gets hard.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become an editor?

In college I worked at a small movie theater. Fun people, free movies, and popcorn every night for dinner. Those were the days. If it had paid better and I didnʼt have to wear a bow tie, I might still be there today.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding?

I think that crowd-funding can be an amazing asset when used properly. If the filmmaker has a good online presence and/or I have a good sense of who they are and what they are about, I am more inclined to pledge toward the project.

If all I know about you is that you can retweet the same spammy tweet every 20 minutes, good luck. Crowd-funding is a full time job, but itʼs not about spam, itʼs about the conversation.

With all of that said, we are in the final stretch of our campaign for Down and Dangerous. If we meet our minimum goal, I get my dream of cutting another feature this fall. If you have a minute, please check out and consider becoming a backer.

How often does timing affect artistic vision when editing a film?

Editing is all about finding the right rhythm and timing for a story and it can take a while to get it right. If you are sprinting through post production to hit an upcoming deadline, artistic vision and quality will inevitably be sacrificed.

Iʼm more partial to the marathon scenario. Patience, endurance, and creativity in a reasonable amount of time will get you to the finish line with something you can be proud of every time.

If you could go back in time and edit any film. Which film would it be and why?

I know this sounds random, but I might choose Ghost Busters 2. (Just hear me out on this one). You can clearly see how much fun Bill Murray is having and enjoying himself in the second film and it would be great to get to go through and play with all of the footage. Also, when else could you cut to Bobbie Brown cues in a film and get away with it?

And in an attempt to get you to take me seriously ever again, Iʼd like to add that I would love to cut any Paul Thomas Anderson film in the future.

What's your favorite movie quote and why?

I grew up on a healthy diet of The Goonies, Three Amigos, Ghost Busters, The Naked Gun, and Spaceballs. Those movies lead to my passion for filmmaking and any line from them can pretty much make my day.

Iʼm currently feeling a little Goonies nostalgia, so Iʼll go with, “The octopus was very scary.”

How has computer technology affected the way films are presently edited?

Itʼs a bit of an understatement to say there are way less limitations cutting non-linearly on a computer. With the exception of the occasional technical glitch, there is nothing that you canʼt try to make the best story possible. With current technology, the limits are more from your mind.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for including an editorʼs perspective on your blog!





Thanks for doing the interview. I'm a BIG fan of you and the crew at the Sabi Company.  I hope to interview Zak Forsman and Kevin Shah in the future.