Saturday, September 19, 2015

Interview with Editor Evita Yuepu Zhou

I always love featuring independent filmmakers on this blog. Below is a Q&A with Editor Evita Yuepu Zhou. She has an interesting story and a familiar love of filmmaking.


A Statement from Evita:

I was born in a small city in China in 1987 and moved to Shanghai when I was 9 years old. Since the age of 10, I knew I wanted to work in film. My pursuit of film was not an easy one: swimming against the cultural stereotype, which pushes its children to become doctors, lawyers or housewives and battling to become a female editor in the entertainment industry proved challenging. The entertainment industry is a rocky road and, oftentimes, is difficult to break into and maintain a steady career. Despite these difficulties, my career in film editing has been very rewarding. Stepping back and looking at what I’ve done and what I’m capable of carries with it a sense of adventure that drives me to keep creating. I am passionate about my career and strive to expand my editing skills to span all mediums. Whether it be a narrative film, documentary film, commercials, or reality series, each project opens up new and different worlds that allow me to expand and explore. I immerse myself in these worlds and connect emotionally and artistically with each story. Taking unrelated visual sequences and stitching them together to create a beautiful work of art is something I look forward to every day.
Still from Ablution - a film edited by Evita Yuepu Zhou



The Q&A with Evita

1) How did you get into editing?

Finding my passion and talent for editing was an interesting process of self-discovery. I will never forget the first time I finished editing my first documentary back in 2008. I directed that film as well. The moment when the final film was exported was one of my happiest moments in my life. That moment served as a catalyst for me to further explore the world of editing. Later, my work experience at IMSTEPF Studios made me realize that editing is something I love to do, enjoy doing, and is something I’m good at. Stitching those unorganized unrelated visual sequences together into an amazing piece of art is very rewarding.

2) What is a typical day like?

Working as a freelancer allows for a lot of flexibility in my schedule. It also means that there are no strict boundaries for work and free time and that the lines between the two are often blurred. Every day, I make sure I get a decent breakfast and then get my hands on the keyboard to start the day. No matter how busy or tight my schedule is, I always make an effort to get some mid-day exercise. It’s vital to keep healthy when a job requires you to sit in front of screens all day long. Work continues after dinner mostly. The hours are very long, but I always make sure I allow myself some leisure time on weekends.

3) What would you say your editing style is?

I wouldn’t limit myself to just one editing style. The technique and style of your work should reflect the content. Generally, I like to cut on emotion rhythms. Using those cues allows me to form rules and techniques as I go along. 

4) Who would you say, editor or filmmaker, inspires your work the most?

My favorite director is Roman Polanski. He is an absolute genius as a director. And my favorite editors are Dede Allen, Tim Squyres, and Hervé de Luze.

5) How does editing different genres (doc, web series, feature, etc.) affect your work?

Editing a wide variety of genres allows me to expand my editing skill set. Different genres definitely affect the creative process in different ways. For documentaries, editors need to be involved early on because editors are partially the writer of the film. Also, the editorial period often takes longer for documentary films. Narrative films are fluid and create different vibes when I work with the footage given to me although the process of dealing with stories, emotions and rhythms stays the same.

6) What genre or project type do you most enjoy editing and why?

As an editor, I prefer not to stick to just one type of genre or story. I always love to try different types of film as long as it has a good story and interesting characters. I like to immerse myself into the characters’ arcs and understand the emotional twists of the film. I always get positive feedback in that arena from different filmmakers.

7) How has working both in the U.S. and abroad influenced your editing work?

When I worked in China, I was working for a major broadcast television network in Shanghai for a documentary channel. Teamwork was vital for us at that time, so I learned a lot about working with other editors. Working with people that spoke different languages and came from different backgrounds also helped expand my communication skills.

8) As an editor, what are the challenges you face?

As a filmmaker, you always need to keep moving forward, not only in the professional arena, but also in the networking one. I think the challenging part for me is the insecurity that sometimes comes with being a freelancer and the need to constantly network and put yourself out there not only in-person but on social media as well. Often, that insecurity is going to be with you your whole life as a filmmaker, but the challenge of that can lend itself to new adventures in meeting new people.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring film editors?

Film business is a rocky road for anyone who is working and wants to work in it. However, it also feels very rewarding when you find your calling and put yourself into it. It requires great amount of time and hard work, but it’s also amazingly fun to find out what you’ve done and what you’ll create in the future. It’s never the same.

10) If you weren't an editor, what do you think you'd be doing right now?


Although I’ve worked different jobs before editing, I cannot think of anything I would want to jump into right now except editing. Maybe I would be a writer for a small magazine or work in environmental engineering because that was one of my undergraduate majors, but if I had to choose something other than editing, I would love to be a film composer.

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