"Me You and Five Bucks" Editor Karbis Sarafyan Talks About The Art of Film Editing

Written By

Melissa Salinas

The Hollywood Entertainment Report

Karbis Sarafyan is a young and hip Armenian-American producer, director and editor who is perhaps best known for his work on Ventura Boulevard (2017).

Another project that will captivate audiences is his work in Take Point (2017). Not only is he the producer and editor of this film, but he also plays the role of ‘Manns’.  The film is about a recruit who is deployed to Iraq and decides to stop on his way to base to call his father and run to Mexico but before he is able to make the call, someone calls him. The person on the other end changes everything.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, it’s safe to say that Sarafyan has had a great deal of opportunity to sharpen his craft by surrounding himself with like-minded individuals like actors, directors, screenplay writers and special effects geniuses that inhabit the great land of Hollywood. Karbis lends his creative talents to projects including short films, narratives, reality TV, web series,  and music videos, to name a few. Having been in the film and television industry for the past 9 years, he has certainly kept himself busy learning the art of film editing.

MS: What piqued your interest in film editing?

KS: At the time, I had never edited any feature film so I was happy to take any opportunity I could get. My sister Angela Sarafyan who plays ‘Pam’ in the film, recommended me to Jaime Zevallos, the writer and director of Me You and Five Bucks.

Although learning the basics in film school, I seemed to have learned more through experience by trial and error to master my craft. I also learned how important sound is and how you will discover your own style of editing the more you do it. 

MS: Tell us more about the use and editing of sound? 

KS: It can even be the sound of an empty room but still adds emotion. Audio influences my cutting a lot! Sound is there just as much as the video is and more can be added to sharpen a feeling or emotion.

MS: Do you still get to enjoy and watch movies?​

KS: Yes, I can. I always do. I enjoy all kinds of movies but action/adventure movies are closest to my heart. I grew up watching movies like Forest Gump, Lethal Weapon, Rocky, Die Hard, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Timecop, Rambo, Dumb and Dumber, The Terminator, Alien, The Truman Show, Taxi Driver, The Big Lebowski, Children of Men, The Matrix, Casino, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, The Last Samurai, Jet Li's Fearless, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Shawshank Redemption. 

MS: Do you, as a film editor, have any personal rituals or maybe a creative exercise you do to get your head in the right mood before you begin your work?​

KS: Yes, lots of Red Bull or coffee is my ritual (laughs) but I do try to keep my head clear of any problems or anything to be able to fully concentrate on my work. Music helps a lot.

MS: What do you do when you experience editor's block?

KS: If I find myself getting stuck, I know it’s time for me to rest or have a break - look away, do something else, then come back to it and more will come to me. 

MS: How often do you follow your instincts rather than the script?

KS: I follow my instinct more than anything. So, most of the time. 

MS: Name a film you would love to re-cut and give me a sense of what you’d do differently and why? 

KS: Actually, I love Children of Men but I would honestly not change a thing about that film. However, it would have been amazing to edit or be involved in it as it is one of the best films ever made.

MS: I see talent runs in the family. Your sister Angela Sarafyan plays the role of ‘Pam’ on Me You and Five Bucks who is the love interest of ‘Charlie Castillo’ played by actor Jaime Zevallos. How was this project introduced to you? Was it a collaboration between you and your sister? 

KS: Yes, this was our first collaboration. My sister Angela introduced me to Jaime Zevallos, who is also the writer and director of the film, to edit the project. 

MS: What about Me You and Five Bucks inspired you?

KS: At the time, I was only 22 years old and having the opportunity to edit a feature film was huge for me. The film was shot gorilla style all over New York City and editing a movie taking place in New York was already quite inspiring.

I have often wondered what inspires a film editor to do what they do. The role of the editor is not just about putting pieces together like a puzzle but to give the film it's soul through music, color, layers, dialogue, pacing and sound among other important variables. The editor must see the director’s vision and reimagine it, effectively making it whole. Editors play a dynamic part in the filmmaking process and the role requires thorough and extensive attention to detail.

MS:  So what inspires you? 

KS: Well people inspire me. Passionate people. People who don’t give up.

His passion is definitely quite inspiring so to those with a desire to delve into film editing, Karbis Sarafyan is certainly the person to connect with.