“I haven’t seen that shot yet” and other problems with a bad assistant editor

A little while ago, I was going through some footage of a really cool scene with some guest stars and a really cool set. I cut the scene together and something felt kind of lop-sided. The director came in and took a look at the footage and right away noticed that only one angle of the scene was being used in the edit.

On this show, it was not uncommon for the crew to shoot some takes with both angles and only camera on others, so at first it didn’t alarm me. However, if I had looked at the lined script more closely, I would have noticed right away that the footage was missing it’s equal pair.

We checked the on site and off site backups. It was gone.

What? How could that have happened?

Easy. The assistant was sloppy and she had backed up the same piece of footage twice. D’oh.

I don’t blame myself for the mishap, but I do wish I would have caught on to what was going on sooner. The lesson for me in this cause is check your lined script as you are first going through your scenes, not when you are just looking for your desired shot.

Make sure your assistants are qualified. Train them. Talk to them. Don’t do their job for them, but mentor them. Luckily, this isn’t one of those shows where someone had to be fired because of it (in fact, it was a stand in substitute that just won’t get hired back again). We got along without it, but every time the director watched the episode he expressed his wish that he could just have that footage back again.