Making the Cut: Lillian Benson, ACE—Drawing on the Intuitive Self

In her impressive career, Lillian Benson, ACE, has amassed a long list of editorial credits, including the medical TV drama series Chicago Med. She also edited All Our Sons: Fallen Heroes of 9/11 (2004), a short documentary film narrated by Alfre Woodard that remembers 12 black firefighters that lost their lives during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

As the first African American female editor selected for membership in American Cinema Editors (ACE), Benson also edited Eyes on the Prize (1987), a historical documentary about the American Civil Rights Movement, for which she received an Emmy nod in 1991. While Benson is currently editing Chicago Med, she has also edited numerous historical and political documentaries.

Regardless of genre, Benson believes good storytelling to be paramount. “People are people, feelings are feelings, and words mean something. If you look at your material in that sense, what you’re working on…doesn’t matter,” she says. “You have to get from A to B.” She encourages people that want to pursue editing to be aware of the technology, know what they liked best in the films they’ve seen, and develop a strong sense of self.

“You always draw on the intuitive self…and if you’re familiar with the tools, and don’t have to think about how you’re working, then …that is the strength of having a system that works with your mind, and you don’t have to overthink how to get it to do what you want it to do.”

—Lillian Benson, ACE, editor, Chicago Med, Eyes on the Prize, All Our Sons: Fallen Heroes of 9/11

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