Netflix's 'Black & Privileged' Makes Eyebrows Raise With This Editing

Netflix is a synonymous with a hub for high-end cinematic experience. However, lately, there has been quite a lot of attention paid to a scene from "Black & Privileged" that aspiring and experienced filmmakers may want to take a look at.

I really don't know where to start, but let's first evaluate the feeling you have when you watch it: total confusion. Your brain is constantly trying to cope up with the new visual information that comes out of nowhere, leaving you frustrated. If we dissect the editing by several criteria, we will find the following types of mistakes:

Geography

There is a very strong reason why opening scenes exist. They usually show a wide view of the set to let your brain get used to the geography of the scene and feel "home."

Jump-Cuts for No Reason

There is a well-dressed man coming out of his house crossing the street to meet people from a less-expensive house and talk to them. This was done using 10 cuts. Yes, 10 jump-cuts for such a simple thing, where the information the viewer has to receive is just a man crossing the street in order to talk to others.

Continuity Errors

These are the mistakes where in the final result, the subjects and objects don't naturally follow their state from the previous cut. In this short clip, there is an long list of examples. You can see the wife, the husband, and the child in different positions in relation to each other between the cuts. Their actions don't follow naturally as if they happened in the real world, which makes the brain perplexed.

New Information out of Nowhere

You will see a frame where the man who crossed the street is alone, and on the next cut, you see a crowd of people that appeared very unnaturally out of thin air instead of showing bystanders gathering one by one to form that multitude.

Why?

While this editing is shockingly bad, I still think it might be deliberate. Maybe someone wanted to bring attention to the series, to the plot, to the message it wants to convey to the public? Let us know what you think the real reason is in the comments below.

On a Positive Note

While this editing is not up to the professional filmmakers' standards, technically, it's up to Netflix' standards, and the footage was at least shot in 4K.

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20 Comments

Kirk Darling's picture

Well, it was pretty bad.

Marc Perino's picture

I agree. Very bad editing. Unless it is deliberate. But I doubt it. ;)
But also annoying is the vertical video of a social media post of a filmed tv screen. ;))

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

That was the only video that properly credited the original poster on Instagram. That's why I thought it would be fair to use this one.

Marc Perino's picture

It was not meant to critique your choice. It is just odd to watch a horizontal video which is placed in a vertical post that is shown in another horizontal video. Inception!🤯

Vertical videos are an annoyance that purely resulted from this Facebook owned company. I understand that people are holding phone vertically most of the time. But the human view is horizontal by nature. So it always feels odd to me. And companies like Adobe now conform their software to this odd format - which I also understand - but it is just because one company started this thing and made it a new norm.
A friend of mine is working for a TV station and his editors have to export multiple edits now in many different formats to play on all social media platforms and it drives them crazy. 😅

Marc Perino's picture

I have to clarify: with "bad editing" I did not want to blame the editor. Just the outcome. I should have said bad directing which resulted in bad editing. ;)
(see my comment below)

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Yeah, I know, but in the photography world when you see plastic skin you don't blame the photographer, but the editor although it may be the producer's or art director's fault. It's quite normal to blame the editor in the film world as well, because at the end they are on the front-line :)

Poor editors.

Jodi Frye's picture

Now I need to watch the movie in it's entirety. I can't make a judgement call based on this fun strange clip.

Haha! You have to laugh. This is gold. Reminds me in some ways of The Room, which has become a cult classic.

Jeremy Lusk's picture

As an editor (for Netflix shows), I was prepared to defend this. And without the context of the rest of the film (show?) it’s hard to judge. But yeah, on its own this is a mess. I’ll still defend the editor though by saying this is 100% on the director. No editor would be okay with cutting this if the footage available allowed for better options. So that’s on the director. Or, if the director saw this and wasn’t like “dude what about that shot of the whole neighborhood coming out to defend him??” then that, too, is on the director.

Marc Perino's picture

You are so right. I have directed many commercials in the past few years. And keeping the staging in order for continuity reasons is one of the hardest things.
In my opinion the director and script/continuity - and to a degree also the DoP - f**ed up big time. No editor is able to cut that together.

It is also always funny to see awards like the Oscar going to editors that have "flashy" editing. Because you never know what kind of sh*t they had to deal with coming from the shoot.
If anybody would get an Oscar for saving a film in editing - which happens a lot - they would have to throw the director under the bus - which would never happen.

I don't even watch race baiting videos

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Hahahahaha. It's funny that you find it "race-baiting" when the title says "black." I guess it would be politically correct if it was called "18% Gray & Privileged." LOL

It's about bad editing, not "race" or anything you seem to be prejudiced to.

Kirk Darling's picture

Everybody in it was black. It was about an altercation between black economic groups. How was that racebaiting?

I suppose we are supposed to eliminate the word "black" from the language because to use it is racist? Or maybe you're having a knee-jerk reaction based on your own biases and didn't bother to find out the facts.

Chris Poblano's picture

The acting was just as bad. Sometimes I wonder about some of the movies that are on the popular list on Netflix. It's like the "don't just a book by its cover" saying. Looks good until you actually watch it and realize it's not good at all.

Brandon Wallace's picture

I've seen the film. Editing is also about the intended audience of the story. I completely understand the editing choice and it totally makes sense. The film is about a very real societal dichotomy within the black community. The jump cuts were meant to make you feel unsettled and disoriented about the coming conflict - and to make the choice of choosing sides even more difficult for the viewer. It also showed how privileged society seems to have many voices during conflict (as demonstrated by the crowd suddenly appearing out of nowhere behind the dude in the suit), and those in the "hoodlife" are isolated. I think it achieved that goal. This isn't a normal film. It attempted to address a very real condition in society in an authentic way.

Now, if you are looking from a purely technical angle, this appears to be two different sequences, shot on different days - as pickups to the main wide shot. My guess is that something went wrong with the original dailies and the lead up had to be re-shot and re-cut together. That's the tech-head in me. However, I like my aforementioned perspective better. :)

Typical Netflix filmmaking. 99% garbage.
This is why they stick the label "Netflix Original" to shows they haven't produced.

Studio Eye's picture

Maybe missing something, but the editing wasn’t as bad as you make it to be, and it captured something in a milieu the writer has no experience in and is judging from a safe distance. I totally got the intent of the editing, especially the crowd popping up all of a sudden.