4 min read

#329 - Percival's Uncle

Last year the most popular video on my (humble) YouTube channel was this documentary masterclass from veteran documentary editor Steve Audette.

If you've not seen it before, it's well worth a watch, regardless of the kind of editing you currently do, as it delivers a fascinating breakdown of the editorial process when crafting a scene for a Frontline PBS documentary, with a ton of valuable insights peppered in along the way.

After 30 years in the edit suite, these days Steve can be found sailing the East Coast of the US (and beyond) but often consults as an 'edit doctor' or joins a team as a supervising editor to help leverage his years of expertise on multiple projects.

Uncle who?

In today's issue of Cut/daily I wanted to share a short essay Steve wrote on an interesting narrative archetype: Percival's Uncle.

It's a fascinating concept to keep in the back of your mind as you edit, in order to keep your audience focused and on track as they navigate a nuanced narrative.

But I also often think of myself, the editor, as this same person, this Percival's uncle.

How can my voice, when filtered through the editorial choices I make, be trusted with “the wisdom to surmise the data and help the viewer separate the wheat from the chaff - most importantly to do so with grace and without prejudice.

I asked Steve for a concrete example of a Percival's Uncle in recent popular media, here's what he wrote back:

I racked my brain trying to think of an iconic actor everyone might know who has played the part of Percival’s Uncle.

Then, I woke up late last night and it hit me: Tim Gunn of Project Runway and Making The Cut fame.

He plays the part perfectly.

— Editor Steve Audette

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