It is now finished- just tweaking the technical stuff - audio levels colour, etc.
I am a few weeks away from the finished thing: joy and anticipation.
Few discoveries/lessons I’ve made during post.
Do not show hands in close up – unless made up – including waxing:
Even on the most fair and hairless, hi def shots show a veritable forest of follicles and hairy knuckles – not a good look for your leading lady. I did have to blur the shot so to preserve Danielle’s dignity – hairy knuckles appeal to a very select few.
Beware of radio mikes:
If actors wear lap/radio mikes – make sure the mikes are turned off when said actors visit the toilets – as we were shooting a scene without an actor (won’t name names) we can clearly hear on the soundtrack someone’s bowel movements – again not a good for decorum – no, it won’t make it to the bloopers reel.
It can’t/can be fixed in post:
In general if the shots/performance/writing is crap – it can’t be fixed. On the odd occasion it can. So make sure you have all you need during the shoot.
Get your footage:
You can never have too much footage. Sure, it is a labor of pain and love to organize and manage clips and files – but the work is worth it. The additional footage does help when cutting the overall picture. Being limited to fewer shots or scenes is very frustrating. You can always cut away additional material – but it is very difficult/expensive to manufacture shots in post.
There are no mistakes only unexpected results (I know this contradicts some of the lessons below - but trust me on this one they are all trues and still hold at the same time). With enough creativity (thinking and courage to leap beyond the obvious); you can elevate things to something above their functional value. This happens especially when a mistake happens and you have an effect you hadn’t intended – e.g. a jump cut. If you look at these with an open mind they can sometimes reveal story subtleties or facts that a more formal and predictable approach may not.
Trust your dreams:
Your vision unfettered by desires or fears (both brought on by the childish ego) is the truthful artistic expression – seek it in all you do.
The New York Times none other asks whether
Hello fellow travellers.
Been working the midnight oil, burning the candle at both ends --- and killing cliques...
Anyway - somebody rip this things away from me!!!!!
Reday to launch a full Semtex asuslt on your senses - I will be cooking up 30 sec trailers over the next 2-3 weeks.
Any wanna be editors that think they can out do me in the psychotic stakes le me know - I'll sneak out some rare footage (quickmovie files) ready to be edited to your hearts darkests desires...
Back to the cave...the muse wants more blood...
Some things have no daylight
Edited the ‘memento mori’ monologue last night – one of my favorite pieces.
45 seconds monologue – 45 seconds that took several hours to shoot - it was a dolly on a track shot - we did 11 takes; yes 11 takes (which is a lot since we had at least 5 cameras rolling and typically we did 3-4 takes); 11 takes because of technical problems with sounds - take – dolly move – take - camera move retake – dogs barking, airplanes flying, pigeons cooing retake after retake after retake.
Danielle was going blue in the face. Literally, she looks like she is running out of oxygen, out of blood, out of sanity. She’s half angry, half defeated by the whole thing; at the end of each take, her eyes scan the room for support, she forces a smile as she knows she has to go again – the clapper board clap now an unbearable intrusion – as if this is a bad dream she’s stuck in – strapped to a chair having to repeat the same lines over and over again hoping that a dog or a bird won’t destroy the poignancy she’s trying to imbue into the words. [note to self - I can see why there is a movie to be made from the happenings on a film set - the tension is unbearable for us]
On that day I thought – what a trouper – what great effort.
So last night I edit the scene – I’m excited – I know how to get around all the technical hurdles and discover the wonderfulness of the performance.
And it just wasn't there – there’s nothing – no thrill in the camera move (no fault of CHW – camera moves have to fit with the mood of the scenes otherwise…) but worse of all, the performance was - it was...soft.
It seemed to be tacked on – like it didn’t belong to the scene or the story…how could this be…? The writing? The performance? The direction? All the above? No matter…I thought, I’ve had to fix worse than this…
Worked on it all night: jump cuts, cross-fades, dissolves, compositing - five hours to edit a 45 seconds segment.
Ten past midnight - screened it: It just lay there - soft - squishy - lost all its bite – I gave up and went to bed. Restless night – then a flash of insight.
This morning at 6 am – went to the edit suite and cut it all out. The whole monologue gone before breakfast.
11 takes, all on the cutting room floor.
The scene now works.
90 minutes of screen-time.
Above all else - this is a statement for Mr. John Hipwell…who (rightly) had doubted the time of the film following the first read-through (clocked at 45 minutes).
I - on the other hand – ‘knew’ that the 75-page script – in my hands would gain length in light of my directorial pace:
I love pauses between looks and I know how I’d like to pace actors’ performances; slow-burns, explosive outbursts that careen unhinged and unbridled.
90 minutes of screen-time. And this is for a super-tight cut.
Still I’m glad for John’s insistence - it was good to have the extra footage in hand – it gives considerable more material to the editor in post.
Anyway – I’m on schedule to submit to festivals in 2-3 weeks.
I’ll make an announcement closer to the date.
Also launching our web-presence then – including footage on you tube, trailers, web commerce, merchandise, soundtrack (composed by Luca X) etc.
Real title revealed in 8 weeks.
Web page launch at the same time - yet to devise the details.
Editing the last 3 scenes – I’m excited, thrilled and little scared.
Next is actually putting the scenes together.
Putting the 30 odd scenes into a cohesive whole.
Will it still hold?
I tried to treat each scene as a jewel in a necklace –
Polish each jewel and trust the screenplay did its role of telling the story.
Yet – only pressure turns you into the diamond version of yourself.
Started editing day 5
The last day of the shoot: Jesus we did a lot of takes. Maybe a few were NG for sound but still…
By the end of the week we were firing in all cylinders.
The CHW-JH team working like a well-oiled machine with the many cameras; and it was only the 6th day of shooting (we started counting on Saturday at day 0) – only 6 days to get used to working in a new team and in a new way, all the technology - the hurdles of production, etc – 6 days is a very short time.
Anyway - there’s little lag between “rolling…mark it…and frame”
In earlier days – I find myself scrolling through the scene to discover that
The clapper board is somewhere in the middle of the file.
But on day 5, it is snap – right there at the beginning of the file and this is take after take after take – it’s relentless!
What can we learn from this ladies and gents?
The simple and humbling fact that a lot can be accomplished by a team of dedicated individuals passionate about doing their best.
My thank you to you again.
Anyway – I have 3 scenes to cut – the last 10 %.
Next the full assembly when I have another go at tweaking the dream.
Speaking of dreams and thank yous - as a show of courage roman gladiators used to shout "Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant" (Hail Caesar! They Who Are About to Die Salute You).
I do not intend to die - neither did the Gladiators - it was more a show of dispassionate cheek towards life and death as they chased their ultimate dream.
Here is my dream - reckon 4 more weeks. There are a couple of March deadlines I must make. I have entered the arena – I see the mission before me...Hail Caesar!
Yes, it takes me at least a week to get the bulk of the scene sorted – which is par for course really about 8 hrs for 4-5 minute scene. I think - some people claim 1 hr per 1 minute of screen time...which would ma ke me slow - but I enjoy trying out combinations - all for the better long-term - but if does chop up efficiency.
The shots were all spectacular – all worked – performances top notch– camera work steady and sure, lighting (hmm – okay but will be better next time – can be fixed somewhat in post). Sound – bit noisy but can fix.
Nearly there friends/comrades/amigos/compadres/freund...nearly there...
Long time no blog/post dear travellers. Well, I’ve been sort of busy – with what holidays and the rest. Rest assured ladies and gents I was still working on the magnum opus. Every day in fact.
Not finished yet – I’m 80% of the way there – I know, I said this before nearly there...- so what’s the hold up Dr Marzella?
The delay is due to the fact that I keep f*&^ing around with each scene a million times – then rethink the whole thing and start from scratch. All for the better I hope. Who knows? Does it matter? ‘Cause I’m having tons of fun – the footage…the footage: a kaleidoscope of options and alternatives – it’d be artistic bankruptcy to default to the obvious choices.
I even get a thrill at fixing the edit for crappy camera operating and dodgy cinematography – sorry guys, yes, no one is perfect – yet there is a semi-sexual thrill in turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse - steal a look from here cut for a reaction shot from that take trying to miss the crew or a light stand in the background.
Anyway – it still holds up!
Why do I sound excited?
Well – human nature dictates that you do get jaded even by the most beautiful of things.
Desensitisation or acclimatisation; pick your scientific terminology.
Yet MbM is still intriguing. And a promising thrill-ride.
The edit – well yes - we are beyond assembly really – not final cut but a little more than a rough cut – let’s call it a middle cut – is getting there. Still to do sound mix of course but could get there quickly.
Anyway – I'm keeping you all in suspense – I hope.
March 09 is a doable date...
You will be surprised I guarantee that...