How To Edit A Flashback


I’m an editor. U-hu. A common reply when people ask me what I do. A video editor. I would elaborate. And again. A-ha. They would hide their confusions by this curt reply. I am prompted to explain. I work for TV. Their eyes would lit up. TV. Finally, a word they can relate to. ” For ABS- CBN.” Their eyes would show interest. Really? Is Piolo Pascual gay? I would try not to roll my eyes. I will not reply so they would ask, ” Yes, but what, exactly do you do there?

What exactly do I do? I edit. I cut. I paste. I fast forward. I rewind. I can slow down time. I can freeze a moment. I can play a song while a woman jilted by her lover sobs in utter desolation. I can put laughter when a boy trips over a wire. I’m a mini-god over the lives of those who inhabit my sequences. That is when my director leaves me alone. If not, he then plays god over me.

How do I do it? Imagine this: At the beginning, there was nothing Utter blackness. Then fades in light. And fades in music, soft and melancholic. Slowly you recognise shapes and colours. Colours creep in, sharpening from a blur to reveal fireworks. They explode and fizzle one after the other. But you don’t hear a sound only music. Below the fireworks, you recognise a shape. Shape of a woman. Hidden in the shadows, lost in thought. Occasionally her face lighted by the fireworks. The music fades out. Somewhere inside her room, a telephone was ringing. We see close up of her face. Still in shadows. She sighs and turned towards the phone. I cut to show the whole of her apartment. A small square room, with just the basic necessities. A microwave, a refrigerator, chaise lounge and a computer. I show her hand picks up the receiver.

She was silent, listening. Her eyes turned cold.

“ Happy New Year mother. I can’t’ go home. I’m going to work tomorrow.” She was saying.

Should I let her explain why? I can cut the rest of her dialogue. The flashback will explain everything. Flashback is best done in black and white. Or sepia.

“ I can put her in the honour list this year, but I don’t think she’ll graduate elementary with any medals at all.” We hear the voice before we see the speaker. We dissolve back in time, and my technique is to blind you with white light.

Then I typed in words “ Year 1976 Somewhere in Batangas”.

The women had become a young girl of 12. It was recess. Her classmates were playing and eating at the playground. She was still sitting inside the classroom, pretending to be asleep. Her face was buried in her arms on the top of her table. Two teachers were having their refreshments on the teacher’s desk. Close-up shows, the young girl was crying silently. But obviously, the teachers don’t know this for they kept on talking about her.

“Well, I’m grateful to Doktora she delivered my baby for free. She doesn’t even need to make her daughter give me these sandwiches. Poor girl, her classmates call her “sip-sip”.(sip-sip means, what the leeches do to get blood from a person.) The older looking teacher was saying while she shared the sandwich with the younger teacher.

“Yeah, It’s a pity she is not bright enough.” The other teacher snickered. “Maybe she took after her father.”

We see the young girl bit her lips and more tears flowed. Dissolve to- the young girl was dancing on a stage. She was dancing awkwardly and not in tune with the other dancers. She was the biggest among the group. She tried to hide behind the other dancers. She could see her classmates laughing at her. She was looking at her mother who was sitting in front of the audience. Her mother was frowning. The young girl looked away. She was holding back tears. Dissolve to- the girl was slightly older. She was in front of a mirror. Again holding back tears as her mother furiously brushed her long thick hair. She was wearing a beautifully made yellow gold dress. And there were plastic flowers on her hair.

“ You look better on this than Judith. You are more beautiful than her. Why don’t you want to go? After the hard work of borrowing this beautiful dress for you. You are so anti-social, you are going to be an old maid. Why do keep your nose buried in those books? And those paper you waste on drawings! Clutter! Clutter! Be still!”
Her mother was saying. She was now putting red lipstick on the young girl.

“Stop crying, or you’ll ruin your make up.”

“ Susan’s daughter is going to be there, you should be more beautiful. Anyways your dress is better. Only don’t walk like a boy.”

End of flashback. Again I blind you with a bright light to bring you back to the present.


3 thoughts on “How To Edit A Flashback

  1. wow! nakapag edit lang din ako dati sa van nung nag training ako sa field, pero sa news, hindi sa mga drama.. at ang hirap ng sa iyo, lahat sakop mo.. non-linear or linear?

  2. Interesting flashback. I can relate to the girl somewhat. Anyway, just visiting, and being reminded how talented a writer you are..keep editing 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s