Some films you edit with military precision. The book on large projects is that you do a “paper cut” where you log all the footage and write out your film on paper, like a blueprint. Much of the time, even if you don’t do this, you have to distill your footage into “edit masters” from which you work, rather than swimming through dozens and dozens of tapes. Having once worked on a film with an obscene amount of footage, I can appreciate this approach. However, having an excellent visual memory and having actually shot all the footage I am using on my current project, I thought “Hey, I know this stuff. Who needs a paper cut?”
Luckily, I did one anyway. Unluckily, as it turns out the paper cut was useless as the project is factual and I can’t just chose to edit it like a narrative, I have to edit according to what’s there. So I’m lucky that I’d considered winging it, because in the end, being able to do that has helped me with the gaps. There is no substitute for watching and knowing everything about your footage, because at the end of the day if you only work from paper, you’re going to wind up in trouble when Murphy takes control. You can’t drive a film like a submarine. You need to see what you’re working with.