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#176 - How to Edit a Pilot

This is one of my favourite jokes of all time.

They say that the edit is the final re-write, so in many ways editors should learn as much as they can about writing; story structure, narrative arcs, character development and the rest.

In this issue of Cut/daily we're going to do just that with some advice from writer and producer/showrunner Shonda Rhimes, whose credits include Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and Bridgerton.

There are things that you can learn just by watching that are not about copying how something is done, but just by understanding how something is done.

It's just about watching and seeing what makes something good, and then understanding that those-- maybe they're breaking a rule, or maybe those are some rules to think about, and then understanding what makes something not good.
It's helpful.

— Shonda Rhimes, Writer/Producer

The idea here is to take what Shonda says about writing a pilot and apply it to editing one.

Although, you would do well to do what she is suggesting with any episode of a TV show, pilots are particularly interesting specimens because they have to do some unique things:

  • Set up the entire premise of the show
  • Introduce all of the key characters
  • Establish the tone and visual language of the world
  • (Usually) do this quickly and cheaply

So how can you learn to do all these things?

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