lucas j harger
On The Best Shot

I recently had a director ask me if I had the best shot in the sequence. Define best shot.

I can say with certainty that there are no best shots when cutting a film. I would even goes as far to say that there are no worst shots either. However, that's an entirely different topic.

The best shot is relative. I'm not speaking on a personal taste level but on an intention level. The question should be “is this the best shot for the purpose of…?” The director’s job is to define the purpose (or be willing to explore), and the editor’s job is to execute on that said purpose. The conversation should then turn to emotion, “how does this shot make me feel verses that shot?” As an editor, the best shots are those in support the director's vision.

I recently noticed this while rewatching the movie La La Land, specifically in the scene where Emma Stone’s character, Mia has just sung a song about dreamers. There is an intense, beautiful performance that literally encapsulates the entire film. The scene is a masterclass in directing. And…it’s back focused.

So was that the best shot? Yes. Absolutely.