"I think editing is more about not what to do, but what not to do," explains Avi Oron, the founder of Bikini Edit. "There are a lot of solutions out there, but you have to stop yourself from just going with the quick cuts or the cool music. It's finding what's best for the concept, to show restraint and to find the simple, straightforward way to translate the concept and the ideas. That's always the biggest challenge for an editor." That explains the remarkably successful yet subtle storytelling that has emerged over the years in his collaborations with directors like Joe Public, Errol Morris and, most notably, Noam Murro. His creative partnership with Murro has continued from Katz Deli's "Old Man" and Freeagent.com's "Company Man" to the director's latest for Saturn, including the acclaimed "Sheet Metal." More recently, he's edited spots for eBay and the fabulous "Birthday" for "Got Milk?" (see p. 21), which is sure to be a major awards show contender.
Oron, 43, started to hammer out his philosophy about editing when the Morocco-born, Israel-raised editor moved to the U.S. more than a decade ago. A graduate of a Tel Aviv art school, he'd already been a successful DP and editor on spots, films and music videos during the boom of the television industry in Israel. After moving to New York, he landed an editing gig at an Israeli cable station, which led to a job cutting what turned out to be an award winning El Al spot for then agency Goldsmith/Jeffrey, where he first met Murro, an art director there. Oron went on to cut the bulk of the shop's spots for nearly a decade. "There, the whole point of view was to keep things simple, not to use bells and whistles, shticks and special effects," he recalls. "It was basically about staying pure and loyal to the concept and the idea. If the idea is good, the spot is good. I've been carrying that with me since '89 and that's what I'm trying to do with spots today."
That explains why Oron's task kicks in way before he sees the dailies, sometimes even before anything has been put on paper. When he approaches a job, he makes sure to have a firm grasp of the story, which allows him to begin setting the tone of a spot early on, with music a key part of laying that groundwork. On "Sheet Metal," Oron's most challenging job to date, he had culled together more than 60 music selects prior to shooting. By the time he saw the dailies, he could start carving out what tone would work best. "The creative was great, the visuals were great, but the difficulty was in presenting it without having the people looking cold or machine-like. You want to feel for the spot, you want to keep it human more than anything else. That was the challenge, to find something to bridge between the great idea and the visuals and marry them together." In the end, Oron edited five versions to different tunes, but the agency, Murro and he were in accord on the final pick, cut to a classical piano tune of Gregory Czerkinsky.
Presenting multiple cuts to his collaborators is key to Oron's craft because he believes it creates the best forum for the fervent creative debate on which he thrives. "What I like best is the process of working with people; not necessarily agreeing all the time, but trying to find the best solution for the idea. I like when the agency challenges me, looks for something better. Questioning yourself, and questioning others is the best thing we can do, because, in the end, that's how you end up with a good spot. I don't think editing is about cutting pictures. To me, that's almost secondary."