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Q&A: Editor Jay Prychidny

10. Benjamin S. via Facebook: As an editor on a show with loads of storylines and limited episode lengths how do you determine the right balance of exposition, character development, and funny moments into the squeezed timeframe? Does being the person who decides what gets cut make you enemies?
JP: When I do my first cut of the show, everything in the script is in there. When it comes to shaping the show and deleting moments or scenes, it is more of a collaborative process between the editor and the director and producers. But as I am finishing my first editor’s cut, I am already getting pretty strong ideas of where I want the episode to go, where the weak spots are, etc. There is certainly an intellectual component to those decisions, but it’s really more of an instinctual or an emotional one. An editor is hired mainly for their taste and perspective, more so than anything technical. And as you grow as an editor, you learn to trust your instincts more and more. So, you hope that producers have hired you because they want to see your take on the material and have some trust in what you think should be deleted, altered, or restructured.

11. Darlene B. via Facebook: Have you acquired new skills working on such a technically challenging show? Also, are you able to watch an episode and just enjoy the story, or are you constantly critiquing your work?
JP: I’ve never worked on a show like Orphan Black before, so I have learned a ton by working on it. The thing that was most challenging for me when I started was just how fast-paced it is. Producers get bored with a scene if it starts to lag at all, and it was a bit of a learning curve until I figured out exactly how to deliver what they were expecting to see. At the same time, I’m concerned about not rushing through emotional beats too quickly, so I try to modulate the pace of my episodes so they are a mix between the high-speed pace everyone expects and slower, more drawn out, emotional beats where they can really have an impact.

When I watch an episode, I’m definitely always watching for the editing but I wouldn’t say I’m “constantly critiquing” (unless it’s an episode I’m not particularly happy with). My intention when editing an episode is to take the audience on an emotional journey, and so when I watch an episode, I usually just like to go on the same emotional journey with you guys!

4. Maryam M. via Facebook: We’ve seen a lot of behind-the-scenes on how multi-clone scenes are shot. Any insight on the process of actually cutting those sorts of scenes together?
JP: In a weird way, I think the secret is just to treat them like any other scene! If Geoff Scott, our VFX supervisor, had his way, he’d love if we used way more visual effects shots in the clone scenes. And it would definitely make the scenes much more dazzling. But editors are always looking for how to play a moment for the most emotion or impact, rather than just the most dazzle. It always hurts Geoff a little when we don’t use some amazing moment that he has planned for, like a pass of a cup between Mika and Beth in 401 or Rachel plunging the knife into Sarah’s leg in 410. But something remarkable about the VFX in Orphan Black is how we don’t treat them as being remarkable.

But, one of the challenges of clone scenes is definitely getting them to feel like any other scene. Technodolly master clone shots can sometimes feel a bit slow. Once the timing of a camera move is set, actors are tied to that and it can sometimes give the scene a bit of an unnatural feeling. There have been several times on the show where the Technodolly camera move was just too slow, and it almost seemed like the actors were moving through the scene in slow motion. So the editing becomes about finding those moments with life and spark that you can build the rest of the footage around. If you look at the four-clone dinner scene from the Season 3 finale, it feels very natural, loose, and off-the-cuff. And, of course, the shooting of a scene like that is the complete opposite. So, it’s about finding those individual moments that will be able to sell the right feeling that you are going for.

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