The first cut isn’t the deepest!

Now that all the US election-mania has passed, life is all about editing, editing, editing!

Firstly I’ve just been handed a first rough-cut for my latest short film Spare Change. This is being overseen by local film-maker Philip Hind who made the excellent documentary The Ultimate Survivor.

It is heading the right way, but still needs an awful lot of work. The pacing isn’t flowing, the sound definitely isn’t there, a couple of pick-up shots are needed, it’s all ungraded. So why not enjoy another screen capture from the edit because I can’t guarantee these are going to make the final cut.

Earlier in the week, I watched an interesting SkyFall Q&A. Firstly it is Bond director Sam Mendes talking with Bourne director Paul Greengrass (Bourne vs Bond – fight!). Secondly the part which particularly resonated with me was the part where Mendes talks about the first trailer they put out for SkyFall (which if you recall I was a little underwhelmed with). It turns out he wasn’t involved and sure enough half the shots don’t actually appear in the final film! This happened for the last couple of Bond trailers also. You can view this Q&A below:

Moving on, speaking of Phil’s documentary brings me to my second “editing” project. This is a DVD extra. I’m not going to spend hours agonising over this as it’s of limited value, there are deadlines and it’s mostly for fun.

The final project interesting. I’m onboard as the editor/composer. I haven’t viewed the project for about a month, which has allowed me to view things from a fresh perspective. It instantly hit me that the whilst some recent tweaks have definitely quickened tightened up the pace, it was at the detriment of connecting/empathizing with the main character. This is in part because we took a scene out in the middle altogether. We thought the brief scene wasn’t adding much. Clearly it was adding “something”. So I’m currently working with the director to make this part work in some form. It also became apparent that things can be trimmed back even further with a couple creative edits. We are definitely getting there. We aren’t quite there yet!

In a somewhat timely manner, Chris Jones posted his editing mini-masterclass based around the 50 Kisses project earlier in the week. Gail Hackston who is the writer/producer for Spare Change is also collaborating with Chris on that project and we chatted a bit about this. Sure, you can take out too much, but I agree more often than not you can usually improve by cutting more. I have already blogged about this topic , although Chris and I disagreed in that entry. Interestingly the film’s director Jonathan Newman took my side, I’d be curious to know if Chris might ever change his stance. Sidenote to self: never argue with a more establish speaker who has a microphone!

I believe the most effective editing comes when you can act in the same manner as a screen-writer might. Do a first draft/rough cut, let things go,takes a step back, work on some other things and then return to take a new look. It’s amazing how different things might appear after a break (this part is too slow, this bit is no longer required, that scene I spent hours on which never quite worked can be fixed by doing x-y-z, etc)! I appreciate on most projects an editor is unlikely to have such a luxury. However if you can afford it, it is invaluable. It is very easy to become blinded or just want to finish. Relax, revisit, recut, repeat! Your project will almost certainly benefit.


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