The Practical Guide to Documentary Editing: Techniques for TV and Film, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Practical Guide to Documentary Editing

Techniques for TV and Film, 1st Edition

By Sam Billinge


234 pages | 25 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-04-13
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The Practical Guide to Documentary Editing sets out the techniques, the systems and the craft required to edit compelling professional documentary television and film. Working stage by stage through the postproduction process, author Sam Billinge explores project organization, assembling rushes, sequence editing, story structure, music and sound design, and the defining relationship between editor and director.

Written by a working documentary editor with over a decade’s worth of experience cutting films for major British and international broadcasters, The Practical Guide to Documentary Editing offers a unique introduction to the craft of documentary editing, and provides working and aspiring editors with the tools to master their craft in the innovative and fast-paced world of contemporary nonfiction television and film.


"A brilliant introduction to the art of editing. You need process to create and method to find clarity. This book shares the secrets that allow ideas to flow and magic to happen. Documentary editing is the best job in the world. Sam Billinge's book helps you understand why."

—Sean Mackenzie, Two-time BAFTA TV Award-winning Editor; Arena (1975), Amish: A Secret Life (2012)

"This thorough and informative work written by Sam Billinge, an actual practitioner in the art form of which he writes, will be my go-to book recommendation for anyone interested in learning or expanding the craft of documentary editing. When I’m asked, 'How do I learn about documentary editing,' this is the book I will be recommending to people."

—Colin Goudie, GBFTE, Editor, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Monsters (2010)

"If you’re looking to learn how to edit documentaries well, then Sam offers professional expertise and insight that will help you at every stage of the creative and collaborative process."

--Jonny Elwyn, freelance film editor and creator of

Table of Contents


Part 1: Editing Basics

Part 2: Starting to Edit

Part 3: Picture Editing

Part 4: Sound

Part 5: Structuring Our Story

About the Author

Sam Billinge, GBFTE is a documentary editor with more than a decade's worth of experience editing prime-time documentaries for British and international television.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Film & Video
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Direction & Production
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Screenwriting