Niels Pagh Anderson, the editor of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing and Ai Wei Wei’s latest film shares his philosophy and tips on how to edit a powerful film
Niels Pagh Anderson is a master film editor and has worked with some of the world’s greatest artists and directors, including Joshua Oppenheimer and Ai Wei Wei. His ability to understand, collaborate, and challenge their visions has earned him his place in the documentary film halls of fame.
This week, DocsBarcelona hosted him–online, of course–for a masterclass in film editing. You can watch Niels for free on the DocsBarcelona website.
Niels is adamant about the importance of stories and storytellers: “We live in chaos, we need to make sense of it.” The notion that every civilization has used stories, from creation myths to archetypal struggles, to make sense of the chaos is what informs Niels approach to editing, well as the title of his soon-to-be-released book: Order in Chaos.
The shorter the piece, the more complex to develop. Why? Because you only have 10 seconds to narrate an intro, a conflict and an ending. In a 30 seconds ad or a 2 minutes short film you have more time to develop a soundscape.
I was approached by Sergio to compose the music for the Storyboard Art logo bumper. My first approach was to create the energetic funk drum track he wanted. Then I created the sound design following each of movements and drawings the logo developed. The horse, the boxes, the arrows and the final words. As the brand represents a storyboard school, I decided to use pencil drawing and drag sounds to create the piece; then I added some scratch sounds to integrate the sound design into the funk beat in an organic way.