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December 23, 2014

I’m on the set of “Bleed for This,” the new boxing movie I am cutting. A large ring is set up in the center of the convention center in Providence, RI. There are a thousand extras scattered around the arena in strategic places so on screen the arena will appear packed to the brim. It’s a little odd in person, but magic through the camera.

The two actors (one a real fighter) circle each other throwing punch after punch. The director huddles behind the monitor, watching the choreographed punches with indelible scrutiny. They must be captured at the perfect angle to seem real.

“Cut, let’s reset and go again.” He bounds into the ring to make a few tweaks. Take after take from different angle after angle; it will be up to me to stitch them all together.

I am unbelievably excited to be working on something new; I’ve spent the past four years working on the same true crime miniseries. Now called “The Jinx,” it is slated to premiere on HBO in February. It’s been a long road to completion, and we are currently putting the finishing touches on all six episodes. What began as something I slaved over in a tiny room is about to go out into the world and have its own life. It will be amazing to see how it fares.

I’ve been living, breathing and talking about this documentary for what seems like eternity, and so it’s equal parts refreshing, exciting and nerve wracking to be starting something new.

Though to be honest, I’m very much looking forward to working out a different editing muscle. The differences between editing a documentary and a narrative feature are huge. It’s practically a different job. There is no script in a documentary, and the editor’s role is something like that of a writer: how to structure the piece becomes this elusive animal you are constantly chasing. There’s a freedom to that, but it’s also insanely difficult.

In a narrative there is a roadmap: the script. The story has long been figured out. It’s clear what is supposed to go where and how the film should unfold. Here the editor’s role is more about turning up the volume on everything. Making what is inherently there better, crafting performances, revealing the information within the scenes.

Both require brutal honesty and undeniable support.