Jingxi Zhu Tells How Film Editors Play a Key Role in Storytelling
“I enjoy working with Jingxi because she is a dedicated editor that always strives to show her best work in all projects.” — Sunny Xiang, Executive Director of Fusion Art Pictures
Dream. Until your dreams. Come true.
Artistic Film Editor Jingxi Zhu dreams about one day getting a Best Editing feature award like one of her heroes, Iceland’s Valdís Óskarsdóttir who worked on the Oscar-winning movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and who also is a multiple award winner for Best Editing on this movie, including a UK BAFTA award.
To date, editor Jingxi, who says an “editor is key in the storytelling process,” has already worked on award-winning movies including, Latchkeys (Award Winner Kaffny Infinite Cinema), and After (finalist at The American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival). Of her role as Film Editor, she offers: “When growing up in China, I wrote and directed several plays, providing acting direction for the actors. I had a very precise vision of the performance, down to how the actors should deliver each line. So, I’ve always had a passion for storytelling, and a film editor plays a writer’s role in storytelling. We are not just stitching the pieces together, in many cases, we usually will find a new life for the film in the editing room.”
With a MFA degree from Dodge College of Film and Media Art at Chapman University in California where she learned to work closely with other talented filmmakers, Jingxi suggests her strengths include having a “deep understanding of acting and character,” and also working within a team framework: “I’m a big fan of teamwork because it is so important in filmmaking, and successful editing can’t be possible without great work from all departments, especially in the early shooting stages.”
Indeed, her work experience on several movies demonstrates her contributions to the overall team.
For example, with the short film, After, which had a tight budget, she explains the added teamwork: “This film required the entire team to be highly focused during the shoot and try not to waste any inch of film. I actively participated in each pre-shoot meeting, discussing with the director and cinematographer to develop a shooting plan. In the process of repeatedly reading the script, the character images were largely formed in my mind, and I would present my ideas and suggestions for shots and coverage to the production team. The effective communication between me and production department made the whole team work much more efficiently.”
Another example of Jingxi’s work is Latchkeys, a sweet short film about a young woman who transforms her experience of solitude into a priceless gift: “The film features two outstanding Asian American actresses in the lead roles. As an Asian female filmmaker, I was deeply connected with the character and the story, and the struggle between child and parents in a traditional Asian family reminded me of my own family life. As an editor, I always try my best to find my own way to approach the story, and being friends with your character is a prerequisite of my editing process.”
Importantly, Jingxi also talks about being flexible as an editor because they are brought in at different times in production, and also that the editing work doesn’t have to be limited to the script. With To Kern, a short film adapted from a work of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, Jingxi explains: “I joined the team when they finished shooting and had moved to post-production phase, so I didn’t have the opportunity to provide any creative input during the pre-production. But, after watching the footage, the producer and I worked closely together to overturn the previous narrative structure and chose a more experimental editing approach to tell the story.”
On the other hand, for the movie, Gift, a lovely Christmas story about kindness, editor Jingxi was brought onboard from the beginning, and as she recalls, “I joined the project very early on. The director and producer wanted to tell a very sweet, heartwarming piece for the upcoming Christmas season. But this story actually comes with a touch of sadness.”
Gift has been selected into several film festivals — Chicago Indie Film Awards, Amsterdam World International Film Festival, Top Shorts, Best Short Fest, and Los Angeles Film Awards — and Jingxi says, “The child actors all gave very natural performances, and while it’s short, it has a very complete character growth curve, and I think that’s what makes this movie so appealing.”
Moreover, Jingxi talks about the inspiration that awards and praise give, enthusing, “The recognition we got from After, especially from Cannes, means a lot for us in the film industry. It’s definitely a pat on the back for emerging filmmakers like us.”
Not resting on her laurels, Jingxi is excited for the upcoming premiere of the film North Country, saying, “I’m always excited working on stories that feature women as main characters.” In the meantime, she’s been working as an assistant editor at Bond Marketing for Under the Banner of Heaven and Shining Girls trailers and TV spots. She was part of the social media campaign team for Academy Awards 2022 while she was with Wild Card agency. She’s also edited several short films and music videos for the new generation pop star Chrisen Yang while at Forest Dream Studio. Additionally, she says, “I worked on Human Resources an animated Netflix TV series where I cut two radio spots for it based on voice overs from actors David Thewlis and Brandon Kyle Goodman. It released on Spotify.”
As for the future, for the young woman who created a time travel drama called A Journey Above Time on her school stage in China and was enraptured to have her “artwork recognized and loved by so many people, even if just at school,” she looks forward to working on more short and feature projects, while she aims for her own Oscar.