The next installment of the What’s Your Story? series comes from Jason Pollard, editor of documentaries Sing Your Song and Slavery By Another Name as well as Pete Chatmon’s Queen Hussy series, and son of legendary filmmaker Samuel Pollard.

Below, find Jason’s story from his perspective as “the guy in the dark room”:

When I first started out, the lessons that my father and many others passed on were:

1)      Always stay active

2)      Work on a variety of projects

3)      Always challenge yourself

Simple rules, but they seem to work. 

Almost every filmmaker says that editing is their favorite process of filmmaking and I believe this is true, because in the edit room the director and the editor get a chance to really play around with the structure and tone of the film in seclusion. As an editor, trial and error is part of the game. No one (director, producer, etc.) likes the first pass of anything. It’s valuable for filmmakers to always be open to change and new ideas. It’s a pain in the butt, but most times it results in a better film. There are a lot of emotional ups and downs in the editing room, but perseverance and a positive attitude always help (honestly, it’s difficult to maintain both of them, but you have to plug away). 

Story, character and emotion always come first before making a “fancy cut.” This is a lesson that I often forget, but I quickly remember it when a scene or sequence isn’t working. While editing, I always believe in the film that I’m working on and the director’s vision; if I didn’t I wouldn’t be working on the film in the first place. That’s when perseverance comes in – you have to believe in the film even when everybody says it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen. (I’m sure every filmmaker has heard this on everything they’ve worked on.)

I love editing all types of films, and the response to the last two documentaries I’ve worked on  has been overwhelming, but keeping with the mantra of “challenging myself” – I’ve tried my hand at producing, co-producing the short Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears and helping to produce an upcoming feature How to Steal has been challenging to say the least, but I believe the struggle will pay off. I know this because the stories, films and comments I see on Shadow & Act constantly inspire me and remind me to never give up.

I wish the best of luck to all of the filmmakers who visit and participate on this site.

Thanks for listening,

Jason Pollard