Become the editor your documentary needs. By getting the help and support you need.


Become the editor your documentary needs. By getting the type of edit help you need.

So you're editing your own short documentary film or video. 

You're a first-time or emerging filmmaker.

You're editing a passion project. Or a tool to mobilize social action. 

You're a video journalist. Or maybe an academic.

You've got festival ambitions. Or you hope to sell it to a media outlet.

You took on the task of editing because you thought… 

  • "We've  done everything  else ourselves. How hard can editing be?"
  • "I don’t want to have to  translate my vision  to someone else."
  • "It's about  self-representation  – this film needs my perspective."
  • Or, "We don't have the  budget  to pay someone else."

you’ve also realized that editing well is really hard.

a documentary edit is a snarling, tentacled, multi-headed beast.

and becoming a story slayer takes a lot of knowledge and practice – beyond the technical kind.

You've got to:

  • Organize all the footage
  • Find the story
  • Avoid software gotchas
  • Cut scenes
  • Weave in interviews
  • Add music
  • Nail the rhythm and pacing
  • Work around the stuff that didn't turn out as planned
  • Stay true to your values and commitments (while telling a story that works)
  • Deliver it

In short, you’ve got to weave together imperfect materials into this alchemy of visuals and story and music. A watchable whole that carries your viewers on a riveting, enlightening, gut-wrenching emotional wave. And then actually ignites action and sustains impact.

Photo by Oliver Thomas Klein on Unsplash

a documentary edit is a snarling, tentacled, multi-headed beast.

and becoming a story slayer takes a lot of knowledge and practice – beyond the technical kind.

  • You’ve got all the filmmaking jargon to decipher and software pitfalls to avoid.
  • Plus the daunting task of organizing that mountain of footage and files. 
  • Then you’ve got to find the story.
  • Figure out how to finesse shots and dialogue into scenes.
  • Structure them all together with interviews.
  • Maybe write narration.
  • Add musical glue.
  • Get the rhythm and pacing just right.
  • Work in some graphics magic.
  • Stay true to your values and commitments, while also creating a film that sells itself to funders, distributors, and viewers.
  • All while working around the stuff you missed during the filming or that didn't work out as planned.

In short, you’ve got to weave together imperfect materials into this alchemy of visuals and story and music. A watchable whole that carries your viewers on a riveting, enlightening, gut-wrenching emotional wave. And then actually ignites action and sustains impact.

Photo by Oliver Thomas Klein on Unsplash

You could try to go it alone.

In which case you’ve got to isolate yourself for days, weeks, maybe even months to get it done.

Then risk showing it to people, only to have them tell you that it’s not working.

You go back to the drawing board. Once, twice, maybe three times or more.

Then, once you're completely burned out, you've got to get the thing out of the machine in one piece and deliver it.

Or – worst case scenario – despite months of labor, you still end up having to hire a "rescue editor" because you can't seem to untangle it yourself.

or you could get support and make it make much easier.

Photo by @taylorckt1 on nappy.co

You can get much faster to a place where you say, "Wow, it's really working!"

How? By learning the step-by-step process of an experienced, professional documentary editor.

And by getting one-on-one support.

I give you a documentary-specific system for working your way through your edit.

I give you a whole toolkit that includes everything from prep to structuring your story.

And I go beyond the button-pushing or “how to drive the software” side of things that you tend to find with other film and video editing forums and trainings.

I'll help you get past the hang-ups:

The technical obstacles, organizational headaches, story doubts, and creative uncertainty. 

All so that your films and videos are as good as (if not better than) the vision in your head.

I'm here to:

  • teach you the techniques;
  • sharpen your story sense;
  • encourage you to take risks;
  • keep you from throwing in the towel;
  • show you a system that makes the whole process more manageable.
Edit Lab

EYE EDIT LAB is like a masterclass in how to edit your first 20-30 minute film.

Get access to expert training, guidance and feedback without spending a fortune.


Also, get a system – with tools that you can immediately put to use to help you manage and organize your project, then structure your film with much greater ease than you ever thought possible.


All the steps to editing your documentary in one place, in the order of the process. And it's interactive.


It just might take months off of the time it takes you to finish.

Edit Lab

THROUGH EYE EDIT LAB, YOU'LL feel in charge of your own edit.

Get access to expert training, guidance and feedback without spending a fortune.

And quite possibly take months off of the time it takes you to finish.

EYE EDIT LAB PACKAGES

Flexible and affordable documentary editing support.

Designed to help you edit your first 20-30 minute film.

Join my mailing list to find out when you can enroll.

EYE Edit Lab

online course

In the Elevate Your Editing course, I walk you stage-by-stage through the process I've refined over 15 years of editing and scripting half-hour documentaries and non-fiction television.

Going methodically step-by-step will help you manage the overwhelm, stay focused only on what's necessary at any given time, and rest assured that your edit won't "break" because you skipped a step or did things in the wrong order.

It covers all the bases you need to set up your edit, find your story, construct your film, make it flow, and deliver it – making your film as good as it can be.

It'll also help you optimize the time you commit to editing, keeping you out of the technical, organizational and structural traps that often prolong edits unnecessarily.

There are seven chapters in all.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to join my mailing list. I'll send you an email soon to let you know that you can enroll!

COURSE plus 1:1 edit coaching

With this option, you can ask me questions anytime directly through the course platform. This way you can clarify concepts and get help with issues that arise as you start to apply what you're learning through the online course.

You'll also get four 90-minute Zoom sessions and a shorter wrap-up session with me to get one-on-one help with your project

For stages that require more time and creative heavy lifting to complete, I'll check in, send inspiration, and prompt you for progress reports.

As your edit progresses, you'll also get three rounds of written feedback, where I'll watch your work and give you extensive notes – affirming what's working, helping you diagnose what isn't, and giving you detailed suggestions of how to improve your film's story and flow.

The goal is to get you to a finished, working rough cut of a 20-30 minute film in three months, if not further along. Results will vary depending on the exact film duration you're aiming for, the viability of your material, and the amount of work you're consistently able to put in.

The Zoom sessions and feedback rounds can be flexibly scheduled over the course of up to four months from the time you pay. Additional sessions/consults can be added for an additional cost.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to schedule a 30-minute discovery call with me so we can see if your project is a good fit.

Expert Eye

course, coaching, PLUS a pro editor to watch your footage

I've often found that a film's problems can only be solved by adding a scene or voice that previously had been left on the edit room floor. When I watch all or parts of your raw footage, I can help you find and newly appreciate unused pieces that could complete the puzzle.

This is the option that comes as close as possible to hiring a professional editor, at a cost that's much more accessible.

When I dig into the dailies with you, I can see new possibilities and come up with suggestions for creative and editorial solutions that you might not have thought of; better help you untangle structural knots; and help you stretch the bounds of how you thought stories had to be told.

I'll give you step-by-step instructions on how to export and upload the raw footage that you'd like me to watch.

And no, you don't have to decide up front. You can first try out the course or course plus coaching, and later consider this option.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to schedule a 30-minute discovery call with me so we can see if your project is a good fit.

EYE Edit Lab

self-paced online course

In the Elevate Your Editing complete training course, I walk you stage-by-stage through the process I've refined over 15 years of editing and scripting documentaries and non-fiction television.

Going methodically step-by-step will help you manage the overwhelm, stay focused only on what's necessary at any given time, and rest assured that your edit won't "break" because you skipped a step or did things in the wrong order.

It covers all the bases you need to set up your edit, find your story, construct your film, make it flow, and deliver it – making your film as best as it can be.

It'll also help you optimize the time you commit to editing, keeping you out of the technical, organizational and structural traps that often prolong edits unnecessarily.

There will be six modules in all. You'll be able to check out the first module for free. It is similar to content I've already shared with people on my mailing list.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to join my mailing list. I'll send you an email soon to let you know that the course is open!


COURSE plus 1:1 edit coaching

As you start to apply what you're learning through the self-paced online course, you'll get three 90-minute Zoom sessions with me, spaced out in a way that works best for you. You can ask questions as they apply to your project, clarify concepts, and get help with issues that arise as you start to get your edit off the ground.

As your edit progresses, you'll also get three rounds of written feedback, where I'll watch your work and give you extensive notes – affirming what's working, helping you pinpoint and diagnose what isn't, and giving you detailed suggestions of how to improve your film's story and flow. I'll do this using a web platform called Notion.so, which will also allow us to comment back and forth. The feedback rounds can be done in tandem with or apart from the Zoom sessions.

The Zoom sessions and feedback rounds can be flexibly scheduled over the course of up to four months from the time of purchase. Additional sessions/consults can be added for an additional cost.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to schedule a 30-minute discovery call with me so we can see if your project is a good fit.


Expert Eye

course, coaching, PLUS a pro editor to watch your footage

I've often found that a film's problems can only be solved by adding a scene or voice that previously had been left on the edit room floor. When I watch all or parts of your raw footage, I can help you find and newly appreciate unused pieces that could complete the puzzle.

This is the option that comes as close as possible to hiring a professional editor, at a cost that's much more accessible.

When I dig into the dailies with you, I can see new possibilities and come up with suggestions for creative and editorial solutions that you might not have thought of; better help you untangle structural knots; and help you stretch the bounds of how you thought stories had to be told.

I'll give you step-by-step instructions on how to export and upload the raw footage that you'd like me to watch.

And no, you don't have to decide up front. You can first try out the course or course plus coaching, and later consider this option.

When you click the button below, you'll be prompted to schedule a 30-minute discovery call with me so we can see if your project is a good fit.

Films about Black Lives

EYE is committed to being part of disrupting the tradition of using the white gaze to legitimize the lives, triumphs, and struggles of Black, indigenous, and people of color. My aim is to support the work of decolonizing documentary; of ensuring that stories about and for communities of color be told principally by filmmakers of color; and of forging a new documentary industry culture and system – one that prioritizes accountability towards the communities about whom films are made, rather than accolades for filmmakers. 

If you are a BIPOC or BAME filmmaker editing an independent documentary film about Black Lives Matter and the events of 2020, and you are interested in talking about how I might be able to support your editing process, feel free to get in touch. You can email me at leslie [at] elevateyourediting.com, or send me a DM on Instagram.

If you are a white filmmaker working on a documentary film about the events of 2020 and BLM, consider helping a BIPOC filmmaker instead.

EYE is committed to being part of disrupting the tradition of using the white gaze to legitimize the lives, triumphs, and struggles of Black, indigenous, and people of color. My aim is to support the work of decolonizing documentary; of ensuring that stories about and for communities of color be told principally by filmmakers of color; and of forging a new documentary industry culture and system – one that prioritizes accountability towards the communities about whom films are made, rather than accolades for filmmakers. 

If you are a BIPOC or BAME filmmaker editing an independent documentary film about Black Lives Matter and the events of 2020, and you are interested in talking about how I might be able to support your editing process, feel free to get in touch. You can email me at leslie [at] elevateyourediting.com, or send me a DM on Instagram.

If you are a white filmmaker working on a documentary film about the events of 2020 and BLM, consider helping a BIPOC filmmaker instead.

Photo by Brea Soul on Nappy.co

FAQ's

What if I just want one-on-one coaching? Do I have to buy the course?

Doing the course helps ensure that we're speaking the same language.

The course is designed to cover the bases. So the more that you're able to learn and do on your own with the guidance of the course, the more you'll get out of the 1:1 coaching. We won't end up spending our time together covering ground that you would otherwise get through the course. Instead, straightaway we'll be able to specifically address the unique issues related to your film.

In editing, the success of one stage depends on how well you did the previous one. The course walks you through a proven process to finishing your documentary edit, step by step. If, for example, you watch the module on Stage 2: Get Selective and follow my suggestions for how to chunk out, review, and label your footage, then once you get to Stage 4: Build and need help getting a scene to flow better, I'll be better able to help you pinpoint what needs finessing and fix it.  

Is Edit Lab the same thing as a story consult?

Yes and no. There are people in the documentary community who focus on offering story consultations and they might better serve you. I'd describe my approach as more "organic" – tailored to the reality of do-it-yourself filmmaker-editors and designed around that back and forth way of working between your script space (or whatever you're using to blueprint your film) and your video editing space.

My course and coaching reflect my years of experience as a self-sufficient editor, oftentimes "preditor". I'm very comfortable working solo, taking on full responsibility for the story. You can see examples of that type of work here, here, and here.

And when I'm more of a co-captain, I have a knack for pinpointing why something isn't working and how to fix it. Often I'll build a missing frame, write a missing voiceover bridge, identify and distill the key takeaway of a scene, focus the throughline, discover that a soundbite or scene previously left out is the key to unlocking a part of the story, finesse a transition, or completely restructure.

I'll pass on that experience of edit decision-making and problem-solving to you.

There are times when I might recommend that the solution is to revisit your film's structure and framing (the 10,000 foot view – kind of like a story consult); other times, the blueprint is solid and it's time to finesse things on the granular, ground level of the edit (e.g. moving scenes and shots around). I do let people know when I observe that they're "rearranging furniture," when in fact their film needs a structural renovation.

 

Who is Edit Lab for?

It's for you if:

  • You have a documentary edit project that you're just starting.
  • You produced and filmed everything yourself.
  • Your project is all or almost entirely self-funded.
  • Geography and/or ability to travel has been an obstacle for you to participate in in-person programs.
  • You're an aspiring professional documentary / non-fiction editor.
  • You've got the Premiere basics down but you feel lost knowing how to manage all that footage, find the story, or make your editing flow.
  • You've made some progress already but feel like you've gotten in over your head.
  • You've had a project on the back burner for a while and you are really determined to get it done, but overwhelm or a feeling of ickiness is stopping you from diving back into it.
  • You thrive when you're actively learning.

I do my best to help you feel supported and affirm what's working; that said, you must be open to receiving feedback about things that need improvement – including when you need to go back to the drawing board or when there's a mismatch between your goal (for example, a 90-minute feature film) and your existing material, in which case I might suggest that you consider alternative formats (a shorter film; or a multimedia website, with several individual videos united by text to provide context).

 

Who is Edit Lab NOT for?

It is not for people who:

  • aren't willing to put in the work;
  • know themselves to be undisciplined;
  • are in a rush;
  • only want praise, and can't take on board constructive criticism;
  • dig in their heels or get defensive when asked to change their work;
  • are unwilling to be realistic about what can be built with their material;
  • are racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, just generally intolerant or abusive, and/or are making a documentary promoting any of these views. I reserve the right to deny anyone access to my offerings if I determine this to be the case.

I don't belong to the majority. If I work with you, what will you do to ensure I feel safe and reflected?

As a white, cisgender, heterosexual, US-born, neuro-typical, able-bodied female, I can't guarantee that you will feel safe working with me. I can only say that co-creating an inclusive space for all filmmakers is one of my priorities. That goes for whether you identify as BIPOC/BAME, non-cisgender, queer, undocumented, neuro-atypical and/or differently abled.

I will not hold up your work or the fact of working with you as a means to earn credit for myself. The choice of whether or not to share our collaboration will be entirely yours to make.

I come from a place of wanting to give you more tools to help you express your perspective, maintain creative control, and reduce the money you need for post-production. Hopefully, this will mean that you don't have to go through so many gatekeepers, or run your story through the prism of a majority editor's experience.

As EYE grows, I will work to collaborate with a growing base of filmmakers and organizations who are also dedicated to making documentary more inclusive and equitable. Write me if you're interested in collaborating. You can email me at leslie [at] elevateyourediting.com, or send me a DM on Instagram.

I also plan to expand and diversify the team, once resources allow, to better reflect what an inclusive and equitable documentary industry looks like. Feedback or suggestions for what can be done to make my programs safer, more inclusive and contribute to greater equity are always appreciated.

Will this course teach me the basics of Premiere Pro?

No. This course assumes that you already have a basic to intermediate working knowledge of how to use Premiere Pro. This course builds on that and teaches you the editorial and creative decision making required to edit well; it teaches you how to prepare for the long journey, navigate and course correct, assuming that you already know how to drive. That said, I do dive into a lot of intermediate and some advanced Premiere-specific techniques that are relevant to editing documentary films. I may decide to offer a Premiere starter course in the future if there's demand for it and a gap in what's already out there.

Is there a particular computer and/or edit software that I need to be using?

I teach this course using Adobe Premiere Pro. You should be able to follow along with the course as long as you're using Creative Cloud 2018, 2019 or 2020. It also helps if you're on a Mac.

has your documentary edit derailed?


I also know how the original concept for a film often goes sideways once it's in the edit. So if your film or video needs intensive surgery, or if you've already got a rough cut and you could use some support getting your edit momentum going again, you'll want to ask about an Edit Consult.

not Ready to commit? get an edit mentor in your inbox!

Great documentary editors know the rules. They also know when and how to break them in order to make story sparks fly.

Every Sunday, I send out insights written especially for the on-a-shoestring, wear-all-the-hats types (yes that includes you, the non-editor editor!), so you can become an edit rebel in your own right.

If you have any doubts about your editing, sign up below and I'll help you overcome the editing confidence gap faster.

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