Alexander Goekjian - DOCUMENTARY FILM EDITOR

When I was 10, in the early 1980s, I lived in New York city with my mother. I took the subway on my own to school and back, which lasted about an hour both ways. If I only had a camera back then to film what I saw, then most likely the images would jog more memories of that place and time. As it is I remember little. But one of the memories that has stayed with me is that my science teacher at school, Mr Smith, called me ‘lizard’ because my surname made him think of the geko. And on my first school holiday that same year, while visiting my father, I discovered that the little green lizards running along the ceiling of his apartment in Jakarta, Indonesia were gekos too. The word "geko" itself apparently stems from the Indonesian-Malay "gēkoq", based on the sound they make. I remember being scared of them falling on my head. And then one day one of them did.

I found some interesting things about the geko (or gecko) on Wikipedia: "In some parts of India, the sound made by geckos is considered a bad omen; while in Bangladesh and Nepal, it is considered to be an endorsement of the truthfulness of a statement made just before, because the sound "tik tik tik" coincides with "thik thik thik" which in Bengali, Maithili and Nepali means "right right right", i.e., a three-fold confirmation. The cry of a gecko from an east wall as one is about to embark on a journey is considered auspicious, but a cry from any other wall is supposed to be inauspicious. A gecko falling on someone's right shoulder is considered good omen, but a bad omen if it drops on the left shoulder..."

I now live in Amsterdam and work as an editor and script advisor on documentary films. I also do camera and have directed a couple of films. But my real passion is editing documentaries. I think that each film has a ‘character’ which is there to be discovered, and regardless of the script available to you much of that discovery depends on days and days of watching and listening (or 'internalizing' as the famous editor Murch calls it), because any detail here or there may unlock something crucial. That's what I would call the high point of editing. That discovery. Jim Jarmush has written about the process of editing as an opportunity to allow the film to take him to a Zen-like place where the film starts telling you how to cut it.



Below are some links to films I have worked on. And further down a selection of credits.