With more visual content being available to the average person than ever before – and at a moment’s notice – getting and maintaining audiences attention is tricky business. In other words, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay original. In the world of media, one filmmaker who has has begun to change the contemporary landscape due to her unique takes on dance and food is Ran Ro. Dance has accompanied film since the very beginning, and Ran is continuing the partnership through films like Transcendence and Lay Your Head Down, which have both been featured in film festivals worldwide thanks to their ambitious blending of narrative and dance. As an original content editor Ro has capitalized on the growing number of food-related content spreading throughout social media and networks like Vice, producing videos for Tastemade that have racked up millions of views online. We had the opportunity to ask the diversely talented and cutting-edge filmmaker about the ins and outs of the business, as well as gain some insight into her most ambitious projects.
In your experience within the film industry, what are a couple crucial skills or personality traits a film editor needs to have in order to be successful?
Ro: In my experience, from working on projects as an editor myself and having observed other editors that I had the pleasure to encounter, there seem to be common qualities that editors share: diligence and patience. Editors work through long hours in front of a computer from when the sun rises till there is no car on the 405 at night. From going through a large volume of footage to trimming one or two more frames to create a perfect momentum in a scene, being an editor entails those mentioned qualities which are most needed in my opinion.
As a film editor, are there different ways you approach various projects depending on the subject content, such as editing food media for Tastemade in contrast to editing a dance film?
Ro: Definitely, as every project is viewed by a different group of audience, the target audience for the project determines my approach to editing. Tastemade videos often reach the audience on various social media where a sea of content is also live at the same time. Understanding the competitive nature of the platforms that the project would live in, the main focus for me as an editor was to make the videos visually captivating and informative to keep the audience engaged. As for dance films, I get to be more experimental and to focus to the story that is being specifically told through choreography. My main goal as an editor then is to arrange and trim shots to highlight the movements in a way that they complement the music.
Can you tell us about the narrative behind your contemporary dance film, Transcendence, as well as how it was received at the London Dance Film Festival and NFFTY?
Ro: Transcendence is a contemporary dance film that explores the concept of “going beyond the limits” through choreography. At the beginning of the film, we find the protagonist in a small white circle as she struggles to step out of it. The circle represents the limit that one puts on herself. The narrative of the film was actually developed during production. As we were filming, me and the dancer added spontaneous movements as we felt deeply connected to the project. At the end of the film, the protagonist expands the small circle by relentlessly drawing bigger circles around it and finally steps out of it. Perhaps due to the spontaneity in production, some of the audiences have expressed that the film feels raw – they felt something that could not be easily explained. I think the beauty of dance films is that the viewers feel the emotions that are expressed through movements before interpreting them. And it’s interesting to see how everyone reacts differently to the movements.
(4) You seem to be drawn towards projects involving movement and physical expression. Do you find these types of projects to be more enjoyable from an editing perspective, or is there something else that sparks your interest?
Ro: There is something so intriguing and strangely liberating about using physical expressions to tell a story. As I briefly mentioned earlier, I think it’s the emotions that are being shown instead of told. Editing is another form of invisible choreography that adds more energy and vibrance to the existing choreography.
(5) What are some of the other more notable projects you have created or worked on as a writer or director? Where do you gain inspiration for your personal projects?
Ro: I often gain inspiration from a subject or an idea that I’m curious about and aspire to explore and delve into. My personal experiences often become materials for developing a plot line and creating characters. For a short film “In Between” that I wrote, produced, directed and edited, the motivation for creating the film was to explore enormity of time and memories. In one of the scenes, the protagonist discovers a mysterious portal/path under a duvet cover and crawls under it – so essentially the duvet cover is an endless tunnel. My childhood experience of making a tent with a blanket and playing inside was the inspiration for the scene. I tried to remember the sense of comfort I felt inside a blanket as a child which was the feeling that I was missing as a grown-up. In the duvet cover, the protagonist encounters a little girl that turns out to be her grandmother that she’s been longing for. The plot line for this scene was also inspired by my childhood experience of being brought up by a grandmother. Both the duvet cover and the appearance of grandmother symbolize the senses of security, comfort and longing which at the time were the subjects that intrigued me the most.
(6) How did your experience as a post production intern at Sony Pictures help to further develop your editing skills?
Ro:I believe editing skills and technical knowledge can be attained through cutting (editing) as many projects as possible and becoming familiar with editing softwares and post production workflow. While at Sony Pictures I gained a new perspective on post production as a collaborative art that involves many people as a team, which is so valuable since that isn’t something that can be simply taught.
(7) Are you currently working on any exciting content you would like to tell us more about?
Ro: I’m currently editing a project that features Fernanda Covarrubias Araiza, a renowned chief in Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s been amazing to be able to listen to her story about the gastronomic scene in Guadalajara, and I’m very excited to edit the final piece together and share it with the world.