Editors have to decide, how much time do I give this emotion?
— Tony Zhou
Knowing how long to hold a shot for is fundamental to being an editor.
Hold the shot too long it might create an awkward pause and disrupt the rhythm of the scene. Cut it too short and it might ruin a joke, mute an emotion or feel too choppy.
One scene that sticks in my mind about when it comes to the merits of holding a shot - because the performance and the emotions are so tangible - is this moment in J.J. Abrams Super 8, where a young Elle Fanning steals the show.
The whole scene-within-a-scene is only about 90 seconds but, as you can see from this shot by shot breakdown I made just for this, with corresponding shot durations, it pays to stay on her for as long as possible, whilst still tying in the emotional reactions of the rest of the gang.