Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dig: Post-Production Part 4

I haven't been able to do a whole lot of editing these past two and a half weeks. The entire Dare to Pass team has been pulling long nights and weekends in an effort to get all of our pilots in the best shape they can be in before we submitted them to the network. While exhausting and time-consuming is was nonetheless an eye-opening experience to go through the fire with Zuiker like that. As he likes to say, "Imagine doing THAT for 10 years and you'll have some concept of what working on a television show is like."

That aside I was, however, admittedly struggling. I have probably about 75% of the film in rough cut form, missing only one middle scene and the opening and closing scenes. I was more than lethargic and couldn't get myself into it (not being able to maintain any roll I had going because of the sporadic DTP schedule didn't help either) and I was in the throes of depression about the project.

For me, it was a big surprise that I didn't have a rough cut in a week or two. Put it this way, it will have taken me almost twice the amount of time to get a rough cut of Dig, at about 30 minutes, than to get a rough cut of Dark Prophecy at 70 minutes. Why? Cause on Dig I'm also the director. And that's the problem.

I knew that going into it (obviously) but though I could power through it and I really couldn't. It's just two completely different mindsets. I should have known this (and I did but ignored it) but the beauty of an editor is that they don't care. And I don't mean they're not interested or care about the project. They (we) just don't care (and didn't experience) what happened on set. They don't care that a shot took forever to set up, they don't care that your lead actor won't come out of her trailer, they don't care that your DP sucks, it was cloudy, the generator shut down (and I say these by way of illustration only). All they care about is the footage they have in front of them. The are, in every sense of the word, objective. And that, more than anything else, is the value of an editor.

No matter what I do, or how much I try to convince myself, I can't get past the subjectivity of making the film (at least not yet). That said, I am not a director who is not flexible, who doesn't recognize when something doesn't work. I will cut a scene like that if it's not working.

And I am in the end, I feel, a very good collaborator. That doesn't mean I'll hand over the key of the castle to everyone I meet, I'll fight for my ideas, but I recognize that I don't know everything, that others may have ideas that will trigger my mind to look at something differently, or that those ideas my be better than what I originally intended. (I've done the "I'm the director, I know everything" bit once and it failed miserably, so I know it doesn't work.)

So, finally a friend of mine who's a reality show producer, and also has a LOT of experience in the editing room, offered to take it off my hands for a bit and cut some stuff and just put together a rough assemblage of what I had. Give me a break, take an objective look at it. He's not editing it, per se, just approaching the material with fresh eyes.

Already we've had a breakthrough, approaching the opening of the film in a way that totally works and I was not in the mindset to think of. It's really strong, it's really interesting and it pulls the audience right into it, which is something that was NOT there in the script phase.

He's basically got it for the rest of the week and I'll hopefully have a full rough cut early next week. Then I can start trimming, cutting, fine tuning etc. I'm more excited about it than I was yesterday and I'm beginning to break through the director-haze that sticks around after every shoot.

My next project as a director, which will ideally be this feature Travis and I are starting to write, I am definitely hiring an editor.

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