The spring issue of The Threepenny Review has a symposium on the various forms of editing, with contributors ranging from Walter Murch to literary critic Christopher Ricks. Most aren’t online fortunately, one of the few that is is from documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. He gives a nicely grounded explanation of how he shapes a film from footage:
The editing is finally finished when I go through the film and try to explain to myself why each shot and sequence is in the film. I have to express in words both my rational and non-rational decisions. Since I like talking to myself, this is the last pleasure of the editing process.
Also worth a look: Greil Marcus on memory, his childhood and “Blue Velvet.” On the film’s opening sequence:
These shots don’t play like a dream, and they don’t play like the beginning of an exciting new story. They play like memory, and they stay in the mind like a common memory laying itself over whatever personal memories a person watching might bring to the images– because what the sequence seems to be showing a viewer is a proof that the notion of personal memory is false. The details of the sequence could, perhaps, be excavated to match specific details of Lynch’s own boyhood, but what is striking about these quiet, burningly intense images is that nothing in them is specific to anyone. They are specific– overwhelmingly specific–only as images of the United States.
[Photo: Frederick Wiseman’s “State Legislature,” Zipporah Films, 2007]