Editor Ted Feldman on cutting Tribeca’s “The Line” using Premiere Pro
Image source: Tribeca Festival.
“The Line”, a captivating drama and thriller directed by Ethan Berger, dives into the exploration of blind adherence to tradition within the context of a fictional college fraternity. Tom (Alex Wolff), a devoted member of his fraternity, is enamored with the high social status and influential connections promised by the fraternity. However, when he counters Annabelle, a classmate from outside his social circle, his devotion begins to falter, and Tom is faced with a life-altering decision.
Editor Ted Feldman chose Premiere Pro to cut this coming-of-age thriller, capturing both the wild excitement of being young and the dangers of living without fear of consequences. “We used Premiere Pro on this project because it is quick and easy, I like the way it’s organized, and because the Adobe suite lets me keep my options open for effects,” Feldman shares.
“The Line” premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. Read below to learn more about Feldman’s editing workflow in bringing this gripping narrative to life.
Can you tell us about your experience as a filmmaker and how you got started in the industry?
I studied film at Wesleyan University and met many future collaborators. For about seven years after graduation, I lived in Brooklyn, juggled dueling careers in music and film, taking whatever gigs I could to keep up my film chops when I wasn’t in a tour van — or sometimes when I was. I worked as a PA, a boom operator, a DIT, but mostly as an editor. In 2017 l moved to LA, where some of my college friends and collaborators were kind enough to vouch for me for editing work. I managed to land some good music videos, then documentary series, and now features.
How and where did you first learn to edit?
In-camera on my parents’ VHS camcorder, growing up with my two brothers. And then playing around with a few editing platforms in high school and college at Wesleyan.
How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?
On a technical level, I try to make sure there is a plan in place for the very end of the project and set up the project with that in mind. I try to get the director to talk as much as they can about their vision, and then I watch absolutely everything.
Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why it stands out to you.
The climactic scene of the film is this very uncomfortable hazing scene in a garage, where the character Gettys (played by Austin Abrams) is refusing to play the submissive pledge, challenging the fraternity brothers’ authority. It’s shot with really stark lighting and the camera is right in the middle of the action — the insults are flying — you know something bad is going to happen. And from an editorial standpoint, it was my job to build that tension and shape the arc of how it all devolves by using the angles deliberately, supporting Austin’s incredible performance, and connecting with our main character Tom (Alex Wolff), who knows this is a bad situation.
What were some specific post-production challenges you faced that were unique to your project? How did you go about solving them?
There was a lot of improvised dialogue, overlapping dialogue. And the scenes that were coming in from production were much longer than what had been written in the script. That was a challenge for time and for continuity. One solution I found was that overlapping the dialogue myself — manufacturing a “naturalism” that already existed elsewhere — was very helpful in keeping the tone consistent and in manipulating the rhythm of a scene.
What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were they the best choice for this project?
We used Premiere Pro on this project because it is quick and easy, I like the way it’s organized, and because the Adobe suite lets me keep my options open for effects.
If you could share one tip about Premiere Pro, what would it be?
This seems small but I like timeline audio scrubbing. It’s very helpful for finding the exact frame to cut.
Who is your creative inspiration and why?
As an editor? Bob Fosse & Alan Heim for creating meaning through intercutting, Martin Scorsese & Thelma Schoonmaker for energy over cleanliness and Steven Soderbergh for efficiency.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?
It can be very frustrating to not land a gig because your resume is thin, but everyone wants you to have already done the thing before they give you a chance to do the thing. My advice would be to do your best work on every project, no matter how small, and to value the relationships you make. Every opportunity I’ve ever gotten has been through people I’ve already worked with believing in me, who brought me along to the next step. And a lot of those times it’s been Ethan (the director of “The Line”), so get yourself a loyal friend like that.