Project Involve (LA): An Evening with Editor Jon Poll

Jon has been in the Hollywood system, since 1982. After graduating from the USC film school, he wanted to direct, but for financial and practical reasons he ended up Editing, and he never regretted it. Among the movies that he edited are the massive hits: Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and the Austin Powers series. He also produced some of the movies that he edited. And in 2007, he directed his first feature, Charlie Bartlett, and currently is working on his next one.

“Editing is the closest craft to directing after writing. If you can write, then do it, but if you can’t then Editing is your best bet,” he said.

Jon talked about his approach to editing. “Editing decisions are based on performances,” he stressed. He usually watches all the rushes, looking for good performances. He jettisons the takes with bad performance and works with the rest. As he edits, he constantly shifts back and forth between the available takes and his cut in order to ascertain that he used the best take.

Jon is known for his strong sense of comedy. “Editing comedy is the hardest, then drama. The easiest to edit is action pictures,” Jon said. In Editing comedy, and Drama, Jon searches for human moments or looks that tell the joke better than a line. Those moments humanise the characters and invoke in the audience the same feelings they are experiencing.

“Reactions and juxtaposition are the most important elements in Editing,” Jon kept re iterating. He always seeks reaction shots and tries to cut dialogue whenever he could. Because a character’s reaction that juxtaposes to an action frame, has far more dramatic impact and brings us closer to the character than a line.

When we asked Jon, how do you go about choosing an Editor to work with? “Find someone that you can withstand spending 12 hours a day with every day in one room,” he replied.

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