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Annie Collins: On cutting films...

Interview – 2009

Editor Annie Collins has worked with some of New Zealand's most provocative directors, including Barry Barclay (The Neglected Miracle), and Merata Mita (Patu!) over a 30 year editing career. Collins has also edited key feature films including Scarfies, Out of the Blue, and Shopping, and was part of the editing team on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

In this ScreenTalk, Collins talks about:

  • Being convinced by producer Pat Cox to shelve her design training and become an editor
  • What she requires of directors - 'that they’ve done their homework'
  • Cutting Springbok Tour documentary Patu! with Merata Mita: becoming conscious of the protests’ relevance to New Zealand history, and realising the different echoes it had for Mita as a Māori filmmaker
  • Working with director Robert Sarkies on Scarfies 
  • Working on Mouth Wide Open, the documentary about film pioneer Ted Coubray
  • Four and a half years spent working on the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and realising that despite the 'profound experience' of working on such a massive project, she needed to get back to New Zealand stories
  • Aramoana movie Out of the Blue and working with Robert Sarkies again
  • The ethics of story-telling: the need for those involved in a documentary (or a story where the subjects are still alive) to follow 'good process', and the importance of 'clarity of mind and heart'
  • The power of the edit: 'it takes about five seconds for you to destroy somebody in a cut, or edit, on national television'

This video was first uploaded on 13 February 2009, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.

Interview - Clare O'Leary. Camera and Editing - Leo Guerchmann

If you don’t approach documentary with the right spirit inside you, with the right reasons for doing it, it's gonna fail up on you. A lot of it simply has to do with the clarity of your mind and the clarity of your heart when you step into dealing with something that is about people who are still living, because we know absolutely that it takes about five seconds for you to destroy somebody in a cut, in an edit, on national television.
– Annie Collins on the ethics of documentary filmmaking