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Create Better Films in Less Time | Adam Epstein The Cutting Edge

By Joseph Cha on August 26th 2014

Adam Epstein: The Cutting Edge Workshop

I had the privilege of attending a workshop led by Adam Epstein, an Editor for Saturday Night Live. Before I go any further, I want you all to take a look at this video.

The Beygency

Now let me ask you a question, how much time do you think that took to edit? A month? Maybe if you’re fast, a week? What if I told you that Adam Epstein only had a day. Don’t believe me? Here’s a timelapse of Adam working on The Beygency and getting it done literally seconds before it airs live on Saturday Night Live.

The Beygency | Adam’s Editing Screen

SNL – “The Beygency” Edit Timelapse from Adam Epstein on Vimeo.

Now that you are thoroughly impressed with what Adam is capable of, I’ll tell you a secret. This isn’t an isolated incident where one week they were running tight on schedule and Adam was forced to pump out a masterpiece in a day. No, this happens every single week. Here’s a break down.

Monday: Pitch Meeting
Tuesday: Cast and writers stay up very very late and write up everything until Wednesday morning.
Wednesday: Read through and scripts are picked
Thursday: Amazing people pre-produce everything. Adam starts a soft prep based on the script
Friday: SHOOT EVERYTHING. Start edit on set (getting cards straight from the camera)
Saturday: Start early, work fast, assume you’re in trouble, don’t panic, watch your piece on TV, have a scotch.
Sunday: Sleep forever. Start over tomorrow.

3 Tips On Creating Better Films in Less Time

I obviously can’t give away the full workshop. 1) because the workshop was nearly 12 hours long (and very entertaining, seriously, it did not feel 12 hours long), and 2) because I didn’t record any of it. But I will share with you some golden advice that I received while I attended.

Tip 1: Work Clean

When starting a project, start clean from the beginning. Make sure you have a procedure so every file and clip has a place. Some people dump all their footage, audio files, and graphics into one folder, which will turn into a nightmare when you need to find a specific clip in a specific project. Set up a system, make it standard, and stick with it.

Tip 2: Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts

Adam has his keyboard set up in a way where his left hand controls all his shortcuts. Make sure you learn your keyboard shortcuts because even if it saves you .5 seconds, that time saved can add up to hours saved in a month or weeks time.

Tip 3: Learn How to Use Music & Sound

Music and sound can drive the narrative in your film and pull emotions from your audience, so learn how to use it! Adam repeatedly said that he would rather watch something filmed on an iPhone with great sound than something filmed on an Arri Alexa with garbage sound. Our eyes can accept garbage picture, but our ears cannot accept garbage sound.

Learn More

adam epstein
Adam Epstein and the entire SNL Film crew do some incredible work in very little time, which is why I highly recommend this workshop. If you’re interested in editing and want to take your films to the next level, then you should definitely consider purchasing The Cutting Edge Bundle.


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.


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  1. Michael Moe

    nice work! ;)

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  2. Tyler Friesen

    Video not available in Canada either.

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  3. fotosiamo

    wow, that is insane!!

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  4. Kyle Farris

    That’s just completely crazy–I hope he makes a lot of money.

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    video not available in my country

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  6. Rafael Steffen

    This is how we have to learn how to speed up our process of delivering great content.

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  7. Austin Swenson

    That sounds about right for SNL standards… they have to pump out content constantly.

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