Finely Sliced: Discovering Another Dimension to the Visuals with Emilie Aubry

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Emilie Aubry is a French queer film editor. Working across commercials, music videos, feature films and documentaries.

Born and raised in France, Emilie’s interest in film and editing began at a very young age. Growing up, she’d record MTV music videos on her VHS so that she could watch them over and over again – and so began her love affair with American culture. At 12, she would film family’s vacation with her dad’s mini dv camera and edit it on Windows Movie Maker.

After graduating from school in Bordeaux with a focus in editing, Emilie moved to Paris where she quickly entered collaborations with talented directors such as: Helmi, Fleur Fortuné, Emmanuel Cossu, Partel Oliva, Emile Sornin. Five years later, Emilie received a talent/alien visa and decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue new opportunities, meet new directors and see what the American dream was all about!

In advertising, she has collaborated with brands such as Adidas, Facebook, Spotify, Apple, Beats, Chanel, GQ, L’Oréal, Puma, YSL and more. She has worked with Wieden+Kennedy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Fred&Farid, Ogilvy, TBWA, McCan among others. She has worked for well known artists like Rihanna, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Kali Uchis, Banks, Dua Lipa, Zedd, Diplo, The Chainsmokers, Big Sean, Post Malone.

Emilie has been nominated for best editing at the MTV music awards, the UKMVA, the AICP, Berlin commercial, she won at Ciclope and Shark Awards. She is now based in Los Angeles and New-York and is represented globally by Work Editorial.

LBB> The first cut is the deepest: how do you like to start an editing project?

Emilie> Before I start a project, I like to get on the phone with the director so they can tell me what they have in mind and we can discuss it. I like to go through the footage and mark some moments I like and I start editing at the same time. Sometimes I already add sound design or music during this step, it inspires me and gives another dimension to the visuals. I try out what we discussed with the director and add my vision and my input into the edit to mix both POVs to make magic. I work a few days on my first pass, if we have enough time, and then I send it out to the director to start collaborating.

LBB> Non-editors often think of editing just in technical terms but it’s integral to the emotion and mood of a film. How did you develop that side of your craft?

Emilie> I got my technical skills in school, I learned the software really well and created my own shortcuts. This way, I never think about my machine or my software or tools. It gives me space to be exclusively focusing on my art: following my instincts, feeling the emotion, and nothing else. The way you feel the footage, you understand an emotion– it’s very subjective. There is no school for that. To develop sensitivity is to be curious and get inspired– staying interested in any type of artform: photography, books, paintings, music, concerts and more. You will find what moves you, you will get inspired and you can bring it into your edits.

LBB> How important is an understanding of story and the mechanics of story?

Emilie> I believe everything I work on needs to tell a story. Sometimes a story is obvious, sometimes it’s more abstract. I always put intentions behind my work, to say something, and be meaningful.

There are many different ways to tell a story– you have to pick a point of view, an angle, depending on what you would like the audience to feel or understand. We can pick to tell everything or leave it open to the viewer’s interpretation, that is the beauty of the manipulation in editing. I can guide you, I can change the path, I can show you the wrong way. As long as I am in control, I can say anything. I control the narrative and you have your own understanding with your own perspective.  

LBB> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing (even when it’s a film without actual music) – how do you think about the rhythm side of editing, how do you feel out the beats of a scene or a spot? And do you like to cut to music?

Emilie> My edits are all about rhythm, I started my career with music videos and have been editing them for more than 10 years. You can cut off the beat and still be in the rhythm, it gives style and it’s unexpected. 

I’ve been doing it for so long that now I find it also super interesting to find a rhythm without music. When you create your sound design, you create your own rhythm.

The rhythm of dialogue is fascinating too, depending on what you are trying to say or not say, it’s all about the pace. How long you stay on people’s faces, whose reaction you pick to show or to avoid.

In commercials you often combine music, sound design and voice-over (or dialogues), so you have to find the rhythm of them altogether– I find it really fun.

So yes, everything is about rhythm, sensitivity and storytelling.

LBB> Tell us about a recent editing project that involved some interesting creative challenges.

Emilie> It wasn’t a creative challenge but a creative joy. I edited a spot with the director duo WATTS for The Sims. It’s a VFX heavy job and I love to work with visual effects and sound design. I love green screens and mocking things up with my assistant. It just feels unlimited with endless possibilities since it’s an imaginary world. In jobs like this I feel like I can fully push myself creatively.

I played the Sims game as a teenager on a PC, so it was just a full circle and I could use sounds from the game that are so nostalgic to me. I had a blast!

LBB> How important is your relationship with the director and how do you approach difficult conversations when there is a creative difference of opinion?

Emilie> It is honestly the best when you build a relationship with the director. The trust is there and you can understand each other really quickly. I think it is important to talk openly about your opinions as an editor. We both want to make the best piece, and it’s great to disagree sometimes too. I will explain why I like something more than the other and we talk. It’s a conversation, a collaboration. It’s important to try things out but it is also important to feel strongly about your opinion and not waste time trying too many versions when something already works. You edit with your instinct and you should trust it and believe in it. Overthinking can ruin something that came naturally together. A lot happens in the process so trust from both ends is key.

LBB> In the US we know that editors are much more heavily involved across the post production process than in Europe – what’s your favourite part of that side of the job?

Emilie> I love to be involved in all of the post production steps, give my thoughts for the sound design, check out the VFX and see the grading. I wish I could do that on every job but it’s not always the case. Sometimes there is no time for it.

LBB> What’s harder to cut around – too much material or not enough? (And why?)

Emilie> Both haha, it really depends on the project. 

A project that does not have enough material, you have to find editing tricks and play with sounds and it can become really cool. But since you’re using tricks to make up for things that don’t exist, it may be tough because you can feel that you are hiding the lack of footage.

On the other hand, when I have a project that has too much material sometimes I wish it was more throughout. Because it can be fun to figure it all out during the edit, but it can be a nightmare too. 

The best scenario is to have a lot of great material that makes you want to use it all– that’s a great problem to have!

LBB> Which commercial projects are you proudest of and why?

Emilie> I really loved working on The Sims, that I mentioned earlier, WATTS and I have a bond, personally and creatively, and I absolutely love working with them. What comes out of their minds is wild haha.

I really enjoyed working on a Levi’s project with Ryan Chun, it was our first time working together and it was amazing, we have very similar taste editing wise and sound wise so I had a blast. 

These are the most recent, but there are a lot that I am proud of. I am happy when it’s a creative match with the directors, it makes it even more exciting for the piece and future projects together. 

LBB> There are so many different platforms for film content now, and even in advertising something can last anything from a few seconds to a couple of hours. As an editor, are you seeing a change in the kind of projects you’re getting from brands and agencies?

Emilie> Yes of course, it changes all the time. There is always a change in content, style and length. It mostly follows the social media trends. Recently, I feel brands follow Tik Tok trends the most. 

LBB> Who are your editing heroes and why? What films or spots epitomise good editing for you?

Emilie> I am a big fan of Kelley Dixon. She edited Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and many more. Breaking Bad is the first show I fell in love with, I was just blown away. I listened to a lot of her podcasts and she brings so much to the show creatively with her editing. I remember in an interview, she talked about a scene in Better Call Saul, it’s a dialogue between two characters and one of them is talking about how she broke her bones. They are at a restaurant and eating chips in the scene and Kelley decided to get rid of the dialogue (make it inaudible) and just use the sounds of the chips, louder and louder in Saul’s mouth because he is getting anxious. The scene is so good, it gets louder and faster, the chips, the mouth, the sounds. This is inspiring– you should try crazy ideas as an editor, it will at least help you find an interesting direction.

LBB> How does editing in the commercial world differ from the film world and TV world?

Emilie> I haven’t worked in TV yet but it is actually my goal. I am attracted to the episodic format. TV series nowadays have incredible writing, cinematography, acting– and since it can develop characters endlessly, it gives so many opportunities for an editor to bring any genre to the table.

I worked on two movies and it is a completely different experience than the commercial world. I think beyond an obvious difference in schedule and deadline (you only have a few weeks for a commercial) it’s just different goals so a different focus. Those differences influence your edit and your mindset from the start. I think in terms of style it can be very similar sometimes– some commercials are very cinematic, have great acting performances, storytelling, etc; but at the end of the day, on a commercial you have a client selling a product so you will always get notes with that main focus.

LBB> Have you noticed any trends or changes in commercial editing over recent years?

Emilie> As I said in a previous answer, a lot of brands follow TikTok’s trends and a lot is about editing. The pace, the music, the lines, the acting. 



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