Working with the best, interacting and learning from industry professionals in an important part of education at Annapurna College. Veteran Telugu film editor Marthand K. Venkatesh who has edited more than 400 feature films, conducted a Master Class for our students.
Life experiences and social awareness are his biggest teachers, which have sculpted his societal positioning and aesthetics in his edits across genres. A third generation filmmaker, he interacted with the students at length about the learnings of his editing career. More than 80% of his films have been extremely successful at the box office.
He bagged prestigious Nandi Award as the best editor for films like Tholi Prema, Daddy, Pokiri and Arundhati. He shared his insights into the industry including his personal aesthetic conflicts as a filmmaker and the balance he attempts to strike in his editor-director relationships.
Making his expertise available to budding editors, enlightening them about common editorial concerns and sharing his trade secrets through advice was the crux of his Master Class. While all the students benefited greatly from his session, a few students have penned down their reflections about their learning experience. Read on to find out what our students have to say.
Mahesh Gaddam, (Student, Direction and Editing)
“We learnt many important things during the workshop; like: Work flow – Editing the first cut of the film on the basis of just the visual intensity of the rushes without knowing the story or having the director guidance gives a fresh approach and visualisation.
Repeated analysis of cut in silence (without sound) makes you understand the flaws in the edit. Each key character gets a different pattern according to their characterisation, (where we discussed an example from the film Happy Days).
When the film is based on a specific character’s journey, the editor has to focus on that character and emphasis more on his arc. (Here we discussed the film Fidaa).
Edit suite is the “first auditorium” and the footage has to excite the editor.
Over usage of opticals (transitions) is spoiling the content in contemporary filmmaking.”
Chaitanya Khairkar, (Student, Direction and Editing)
“The best part about the masterclass was that he was vocal about his thoughts and gave us knowledge about how the real film industry works. He didn’t sugar-coat or mince his words, instead told us about the real commercial side of the film industry. He shared his knowledge about his motivation for cuts, the internal and external rhythm of the scene as well the characters.
He spoke about the difference in his approach for different films, for e.g. His approach was different for Pokiri than that for Billa; Pokiri was rougher whereas Billa had a more stylish flavour to it. He also shared his thoughts about his recent release Fidaa, and explained how the first half of the film was different from the second half; how the cuts relate to the protagonists of the film, while the ‘Hero’ had smooth cuts, the ‘Heroine’ had abrupt and quick cuts to it and her character was more bubbly and lively, as lightning speed.
He explained his working pattern, where he mentioned that he does not take part in pre-production stage of the films; he avoids listening to the story of the film before the edit, and he does the first cut of the film all by himself not allowing the director to take part in it initially. He also gave tips for the freshers who are trying to get into the industry, and explained the job of an assistant editor.”
Athul Prabhakaran, (Student, Direction and Editing)
“Mr Venkatesh believes if everyone does their job to work for the film’s best, then the film will obviously work, any sign for the addition of just aesthetics and not story is not what he encourages. When the edit is first received, he gets his assistants to set up scenes with the good and bad and then comes in to edit. He reviews this finally with the director of the film to completely achieve the perfection the film deserves, sometimes with a lot of healthy arguments and discussions and so forth. He says that the director may stop a personal style from coming in. But it’s never bad to try, only that the final word comes from a director who is confident. The other people who may influence your edit design may be the cast members or the producers who panic and jump to editorial decisions. This may be seen as working for individual characters but not for the entire story.
He thinks commercial action films do not require much intellectual thought into how they are set up. It’s always fast paced with structures that hit marks. Editing films by filmmakers like Shekar Kammula is what gets him going as he gets to explore characters through edits. In Happy Days he set up a style of edit for different characters. In Fidaa the lead character in the girl takes the films narrative pace.
We spoke about silences and how they are really important. As easy as action films are, if they don’t have any silences in them, they tend to get loud and this can be down played with comedic scenes or emotional sequences. Silences, he says should also guide in edits without music or sound designs; they will allow for places that show a lag.”
Abhishek Khapre (Student, Direction and Editing)
“Mr. Marthand explained his own way of editing films. He talked about treating movies of different genres in different ways. For example, an action film is cut or paced a little faster than something like a “feel good” movie or a family film, which has slower cuts to help the audience absorb the emotions. This, he feels, is a difficult task. An editor should feel the pulse of such films and edit intuitively to bring out the required emotion.
Moreover, each character is also treated in different ways by Mr. Marthand to bring out their characteristics. He gave an example of keeping two frames of lag for the hero, two frames of lag for the heroine and maybe 4-5 frames of lag for the antagonist. This creates a difference each time the character is seen on screen. He also talked about using different transitions and optics for different characters, e.g. dissolve for some, speeding up the footage for some, and using straight “visible” cuts for others.
Lastly Mr. Marthand talked about knowing the demography the movie will cater too. This may change the editing pattern. If the movie has a famous cast, then the editing pattern may change for a commercial movie as it has to cater to a specific audience. If the cast is not that well-known then the editing pattern changes along with the expectation of the audience.
Overall Mr. Marthand held a productive session and gave an insight into the Telugu film industry and the job of an editor in the industry.”