Alan Edward Bell is a noted film editor whose work includes “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013), “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1” (2014) and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ (2015). Those films were directed by Francis Lawrence, and subsequently Bell edited Lawrence’s 2018 film “Red Sparrow.”
Bell has been working in the film industry since the 1980s. His path to success has been an unusual one. He’s a high-school dropout who later earned his GED diploma. Another interesting fact about him is that he never went to film school.
He explains that as a young man he was an avid rock climber who also competed in tournaments and had clients who counted on him to be their guide for adventure. Some of them were film editors who were obviously doing well financially, so he decided to try to break into film editing.
At the time, he had a pal who was working as an assistant film editor. He asked him and the director he worked to give him contact phone numbers because they told him he needed to become an apprentice to climb the film-editing ladder.
Bell crossed paths with film editor Bob Latent, who became a mentor. Together they edited “Alex and Emma” (2003) “The Story of Us” (1999) and other Rob Reiner work before Bell decided to strike out on his own to snag jobs as a film editor.
The first film for which he got head editing credit was “Bait,” a 2000 offering from director Antoine Fuqua. While Bell was waiting for his next job in film editing—he wanted a position higher than assistant film editor—he made ends meet by doing digital composites.
More work as a film editor did come along for Bell. His subsequent films have helped him build an impressive resume. It includes ”Little Manhattan” (2005), “(500) Days of Summer” (2009) and “The Amazing-Spiderman” (2012). In 2011 Bell edited “Water for Elephants,” Lawrence’s third film. When the director was awarded the plum assignment of directing three installments of “The Hunger Games” franchise, he chose Bell as his editor.
The final two “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” films were shot concurrently over nine months. The cutting of both films was done in a specially equipped truck because Bell needed convenience and mobility because of the heavy workload and the changing locations. He and the other film editors he directed and collaborated with used Avid and Fusion software.
Bell urges all aspiring film editors to become familiar with all the available software they can use to edit a film. He’s really attached to Avid, but he says students and those who want a career in film editing should also be familiar with Adobe Premiere, Da Vinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro.