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Stanley Kubrick quote

January 15, 2013 Comments off

stanley-kubrick - quote

I love this quote – I put it on the board at the beginning of my editing classes (until this semester, when I made this graphic – I realized it might be more effective to just have it on the computer than actually have to write it across the board… slowly I’m joining this century). I love the word “frivolous” – Kubrick never strikes me as a frivolous guy.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week – the semester began on Thursday, along with picture lock and prepping material for everyone, along with Kat being in California and Emma getting sick, it’s been a pretty busy week. I’ll get back to being better, I promise!

 

Countdown to Picture Lock!

January 4, 2013 Comments off

Toilet LogoWe lock picture on Sympathy Pains on Monday. It’s pretty crazy how all the “we’ll decide that later” decisions get thrown into full gear when later is now.

Held a small screening for a few people (thanks Mike and John! – oh, and Kat!) and may have solved the main problem we’ve been having with the film and character motivations since the first cut, just by reorganizing a couple of scenes.

I’m an editor, and it’s still always amazing to me how pliable a film is – how much play you have in the edit bay. An emotional scene with our characters arguing becomes something very different, and even more powerful (hopefully) just by rearranging the order of scenes and having them argue about a different moment. It’s pretty miraculous and always surprising. Surprising in three ways: that the idea even occurs, that it’s possible, and that it actually works.

This is why I love the edit bay – for everything you think isn’t possible, because you only have the footage that’s been handed to you, you can do almost anything with it.

And it’s all over on Monday.

Once the film’s out, we’ll have to have a contest to see if anyone can find the shot that’s completely constructed from a still frame (hint: it involves a less-than-cooperative 2-year-old), and how many hidden slo-mo and sped up shots you can find.

Rough Cut!!

October 21, 2012 Comments off

And the first rough cut of Sympathy Pains is done. We’re going to watch the whole film later this week, now that we’ve done a full first pass on it (finally)! Man, that last scene is tough. So many great moments, and so many different ways to structure it, but I think we got it (until we dig into it again and realize that there’s a better way to go…).

Brandon Bogard, my excellent editor, is digging through it all this week to make sure everything’s in good shape, and I’m digging through our comedian footage to make a quick montage to add to it, then we’re gonna make ourselves sit through it without a stop on Thursday, to get a sense of how the film flows.

That’s always the hardest part – not stopping to fix every little thing we see, but we really need to see how the film works as a whole, and that’s what Thursday is about.

Post -Production

July 30, 2012 Comments off

Just looked at another set of scenes from my editor. After some troubles getting up and running, our post-production team is really humming along. Lyle Arnett is our post-production supervisor, overseeing that everything works and stays organized, and is a workhorse. If Gary Jones hadn’t already hired him I’d be telling everyone to grab this guy while he’s still available, but he’s not available. Of course, he doesn’t sleep much, so you might be able to get him in his off-hours.

Brandon Bogard is editing the film, and his first cuts look a lot better than first cuts are supposed to. There’s an old phrase that nothing looks better then the dailies (the raw footage), and nothing looks worse than the first cut. But the pieces are cutting together pretty nicely, so far, and Brandon has a lot to do with massaging that. You’ve probably seen Brandon’s name on a lot of films as a visual effects guy, but he’s also a great editor, with a great instinct for structure, emotion, and nuance.

And our assistant editor, Connor Barnes is a great compliment to Brandon. They’re both strongest where the other is less so and bring out the best in each other.

Man, I can’t wait to see the whole thing put together!

Editing for continuity – who cares? (part 4)

December 14, 2011 2 comments

David Mamet has a book “On Directing Film,” which I find pretty fascinating. As with any of his “textbooks,” he puts his thoughts out there as the gospel – there’s his way or there’s wrong. But when he’s right, he’s right.

The book is primarily a transcript of a series of lectures and workshops that he did with a group of film students, and there’s a moment in it that I love. He’s discussing where to put the camera in a particular scene, and one of the students suggests “up high.” He asks why up high, and the response, simplified, is because shots from up high are cool. Mamet doesn’t take too kindly to that answer.

Trying to find shots that look good and are cool, according to him, is trying to be popular. It’s an attempt to get the people watching the film to like you, the filmmaker, instead of getting them engaged in the reality of your story. Find the shot that helps the audience to understand the plight of the protagonist and put that on the screen, and you’ll be serving your story.

Taking that a step further than Mamet did, it’s relatively easy to empirically be able to call a shot “beautiful.” I can create a shot and look at it and see that, yes, it is beautiful. But it’s really really hard and even courageous to make a shot that somehow deepens the audience’s embrace of your story. And how do you know if the shot did that? It’s a guess, really. And that’s the hard part, and that’s why it’s art.

That same thought applies to continuity editing.  Why won’t filmmakers allow continuity errors in their films? Because they want people to like them. In editing, so much of the work you do is really a guess. Should the shot be this long, or that long? Well, it depends. On what? On how long you think the audience needs to absorb the information and sit with it before they’re ready to move on. That’s the art of editing, and it can be really, really hard to make those decisions. If I put this reaction shot following this line, will the audience understand what this character’s thinking? Who knows, but I think so… Again, that’s the art.

But something that’s not hard—seeing a continuity error. The cigarette is lit in one shot and not in the next. I can have control over that. The performance may not be as strong when the shots match, but that’s an ethereal judgment and I can’t be certain of that. The cigarette not matching – that I can see. It’s a choice that I can make and see the correctness of it immediately.

Really, I think the instinct about continuity is the fear of being laughed at. “They’re going to think I’m a bad filmmaker if that cut doesn’t match.” The problem, as I keep saying, is that the audience will think you’re a bad filmmaker if your film is boring. They’ll find things about it to praise to your face, but when they’re done watching your film, they’ll go home and watch Star Wars, which has a billion continuity errors, and not care because they love the story. And they’ll forget about your film.

And again, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t worry about continuity errors – if you can fix them and nothing else gets weakened in the process, sure, so ahead and fix them. But so many people think of continuity as being the primary concern of editors when really, it should be one of the last concerns. Storytelling – pace, character, and structure are the first concerns. Any little rules that some other filmmaker taught you should be way down the list.  We only see that stuff when you give us nothing else to pay attention to.

Let me say it one last time – you can even say it with me – if you think your problem is continuity, your problem is not continuity. Your problem is that you have a crappy film and the audience’s eyes aren’t where they should be. They’re looking around the frame for something that might entertain them. The problem is that your film is boring. Fix that, and the the continuity problem goes away.

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