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“Editing is not a stepping stone to direction”

Sanyukta Kaza shopped around for editing courses and tried out many before she found a foothold in the industry with Ship of Theseus

Education

After I graduated, I enrolled at the FTII, Pune, where I specialised in video editing. I worked for a few years in Mumbai, but I felt I needed to upgrade my skills and get a better understanding of the global artscape. That’s why I acquired an MFA (Master in Fine Arts) degree in Film Production at Chapman University, California, which is among the top 10 film schools in the world. While in the US, I did a six-month internship at Focus Features, which will always be among the greatest highs of my life. I moved back to India in 2010, after my Masters, and have been working here ever since.

Initial days

I always wanted to tap into my artistic side, so I did my Bachelor’s in Mass Media to help me break into the advertising world. I knew that my two biggest strengths were my ability to visualise and a knack to convert my thoughts into something real – whether an image or a video. I was a self-taught Photoshop/Corel Draw expert in class, and I loved the technology component of creating something visual. The combination of visuals and technology is what got me really interested in editing.

First project

Ship Of Theseus is my first feature film as an editor. But my first-ever project was a commercial for an electrical appliance company.

Turning Point

During my Masters at Chapman was what moulded me into an artiste. But, at the end of the course, I felt I should come back to India because I knew I had acquired what I was looking for… like I had accomplished my mission.

Editor’s job

An editor needs to be extremely intuitive. I usually don’t go by the book, usually, at least. To me, a good edit is one that surprises me, like in a game of poker, where no one knows what the next card is. I like to shake things up a little. The editor defines the pace, rhythm and content of the film. It’s an editor’s job to stay as objective as possible. During the making of Ship Of Theseus, the director had extracted fine performances from the actors, the story was superb and the photography was magnificent. So if the film didn’t work as a whole, it would have been the editor’s fault. Ultimately, the editor combines these ingredients to deliver the final product.

An Underrated Lot

I am relatively new to this industry, so my judgment is limited by that. But I feel that there are two sets of people – one that thinks an editor is just someone who operates a machine and the other who actually values them for their creativity. New-age indie filmmakers belong to the latter, and I am fortunate to be working with some of them. Also, many people think of editing as a stepping stone to direction. But, I don’t see it that way.

Future projects

I am currently working on a couple of international short films, which are due to start soon.

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