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How To Edit Your Life Like An Award-Winning Film

Written by: William Rees, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


An inspiring framework to shape your life into a masterwork.

Prior to training as a Transformational Life + Career Coach and launching my revolutionary coaching firm, Keylight, I spent over two decades as a filmmaker—helming award-winning productions for festivals and museums worldwide.

Much like life itself, the journey of creating a film can feel overwhelming and stressful—yet simultaneously joyful and thrilling.

The true magic of the film-making process reaches its dynamic peak when all the gathered elements are finally assembled together in the calm clarity of the editing room. Each image, intention, sound, and track is safely captured and categorized, waiting—yearning, I would say—to be configured into the clearest and most inspiring form possible!

For years, I’ve orchestrated my own life not unlike it was a film that I was editing—and this metaphor has become an empowering framework my coaching clients now turn to as they design and refine their own five-star lives.

Below are four poetically powerful Editor’s Insights to draw inspiration from when refining your life.

1. Accentuate the Positive

First, scan your life for the near-perfect moments—the ones that pop, that sing, that make a meaningful mark on your soul. In the editing bay, we call those beautifully perfect moments the Hero Shots.

Hero Shots possess an elegant simplicity to them that speak volumes. We often place these breath-taking shots as the opening image of a piece, or we close our productions with them. We draw these clips out, let them linger—our entire edits often build toward and around these Hero Shots.

Zoom out for a moment and look at your whole life. All the commitments, tasks, pleasures, and time-fillers. Which elements are your stunning Hero Shots?

The quiet mornings spent reading and whispering with your child before the rest of the world is awake? The high-stakes project at work that brought out giddy gasps from your clients? The week you spend each summer wandering through a new, foreign city?

How can your life’s Hero Shots be arranged, extended, or further honored

so that they become more integral and impactful in the story

of who you are and how you’re living?

2. Eliminate the Negative

When an editor takes stock of all their raw footage, inevitably there are takes (or entire scenes) that simply do not stack up. The clips are too dark, or the performances don’t ring true, or the message that had been scripted simply didn’t translate clearly onto film. They’re unfortunately awkward and/or ugly elements, and including them would be distracting for the audience.

If you think about yourself as the master editor of your life, what are the scenes, the takes, the line readings that simply fall flat and distract from the organic beauty and important themes of your life?

There are many core elements to our lives that can feel fully cemented—our career tracks, our obligations, the roles we play within certain relationships. But our stories are never helmed by anyone but ourselves, nor are they finished or final. We can remove nearly anything from our stories when we recognize they aren’t serving us.

As a brilliant editor: Which endeavor, assumption, routine or relationship

could you cast onto the cutting room floor to further sculpt your

days/weeks/years into their most enjoyable forms?

3. Enhance the Adequate

The majority of life’s many moments sit somewhere between the heady thrills of a Hero Shot and the unusable imperfection of an awkward out-take. The basic building blocks of modern living which are essentially unavoidable facts of life: Summers always turn to winter, marriages take work, dishes don’t ever seem to wash themselves, etc.

An editor has almost endless tools and techniques to take a necessary but not-necessarily-spectacular clip and elevate it into something with deeper artistic value.

What if we took this so-so shot and slowed it down or sped it up? Cropped in on it closer or played it in reverse? What if we sandwiched it between two superb shots or overlaid it with a stock footage shot of fireworks or a double rainbow?

An editor’s almost supernatural power lies in being able to take any element before them and experiment with alterations that can transform any moment or montage from simply adequate to full-on fantastic.

Similarly, what would it look like to remake your middle-of-the-road relationship with your in-laws, or your under-utilized gym membership, or your stressful morning commute to work?

What un-fun facts of life could you lend an editor’s experimental artistry

to nudge your story from adequate to awesome?

4. Honor the Narrative

A film editor’s valiant role is to assemble together engaging and impactful stories as efficiently and effectively as possible. Every shot and scene, fade or dissolve is utilized for no other purpose but to express and honor the mood, message, and main storyline of the piece.

A well-edited project should not run a single second longer than it needs to. (Your viewer’s time is precious and is not to be wasted.) And so every single element an editor presents must be in service of the story, and no cut or effect should pull the viewer out of the transcendence of that story.

What would shift for your schedule or your stress levels if you stepped back and thought of your life as a series of beautiful stories?

Stories with beginnings, middles, ends. Filled with themes and symbols, heroes and triumphs.

What story are you most wanting to live out this year?

Which elements must be present in your edit to advance that story,

and which elements may distract you or others from living out that story?

With my energizing personal coaching practice, Keylight, I’m essentially using many of the core gifts and techniques from above that I drew upon during my twenty years as a Film Editor. I take snippets of fascinating stories and empower men and women from all walks of life to enhance and improve them. I take thoughts and dreams and help clients quickly turn them into realities. My clients and I are editors and life is our artform.

Ready to overcome inner obstacles and assemble your thoughts and dreams into a beautifully-edited new story? Book a Free Discovery Call with William at

Follow William on Instagram and visit his website for more info!

Read more from William!


William Rees, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

William Rees is a leading Career and Wellbeing Coach and the founder of Keylight, the top-tier coaching practice renowned for empowering individuals and duos to cast their endeavors in a vibrant and visionary light. Drawing upon his two decades as an award-winning filmmaker, Rees instills a cinematic sense of adventure and wonder into the personal and professional pursuits of his diverse roster of clients. Honoring the idea that The Greatest Art Form is Life Itself, Keylight’s poetic and powerful approach to self-development quickly unlocks clarity and creativity for uniquely inspired living.


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