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

The Practical Guide to Documentary Editing

Techniques for TV and Film

By Sam Billinge

© 2017 – Focal Press

234 pages | 25 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-04-13
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About the Book

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, music and sound design, story structure, and the defining relationship between editor and director.

Written by a working documentary editor with over a decade’s 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 filmmakers with the tools to master the art.


"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)

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 is a documentary editor with more than a decade's worth of experience editing British documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and Discovery.

Subject Categories

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