Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Editing 50.2

So I’ve been chewing on my comments about editing for some time, and suddenly I find another post at one of my favorite blogs called Self-Reliant Filmmaking about the long take. Paul Harrill who is the blogs owner has some good points about editing and why some of the movies of late have been in a word not up to snuff. I agree that most of the filmmakers who do seem to cut quickly are first-time directors on modest budgets. Having done my own film in the span of 11 days I do know that time is your worst enemy. No matter how much time you have it isn’t enough. I was always pressured to move on and get to the next shot, yet my movie is not one with quick cuts. In fact it’s been labeled slow. If I had MORE time I would have blocked with the camera and the actors at the locations I was shooting at, but time was against me, and so I couldn’t. I was lucky to have a day before shooting started with the actors, so I’ll count my blessings and chalk it up to experience. My actors had a lot of dialogue to learn, and learn they did. There were few lost takes due to blown lines then I can recall, but at times it was hard on the actors and I sometimes had to modify the shot. I sometimes picked up shots mid-way through the actors discourse to hide a flub. It’s one of those things I learned from doing hundreds of instructional videos. It saved time, and we moved on.

This is not to say that my original way of shooting the film was any better. My negative cutter for one thing remarked that I had fewer cuts then other films he had done. I can see how a first time director can quickly move onto the other shot just because time is constraining you, and you just don’t have the time to dwell on it. Eventually when you get into the editing room you suddenly realize that you may have not covered the scene as well as you like, so you begin to salvage the scene any way you can. How is this done is all dependent on how you shot the scene. But then again my film wasn’t action packed, and dialogue was important. Chalk it up to all those film noir films I watched late at night.

As for the argument about the film Miami Vice. Surely Michael Mann isn’t a first time director, and yet the film was far from great. I agree with Paul Harrill’s argument that the film didn’t have much substance, but then again maybe the crime drama as a genre has reached its peak, and there was just nothing new to be added. Most of what Hollywood produces today seems to be less on originality and more on spectacle. It’s the old amusement ride syndrome, as I like to call it. Give the public something fast, quick, and fun. Make them enjoy the ride, and screw things like character, or plot. Just make it light and fun, and when you think amusement ride what do you think of, but quick jolts, and fast cuts which make the audience think they’re on the ride of their lives.

Well someone better tell Hollywood and it’s puppet masters that films aren’t amusement rides. I have no argument that film should be fun, but it’s a story first. If the story sucks I don’t care what they try and do it’ll still suck. Content matters, and it seems the film entertainment business is forgetting that. Film companies are too busy trying to compete with TV, cable, the Internet, and gaming that they’re forgetting that story is number one, and since all things are driven by the bottom line now it’s no wonder why films have suffered so poorly of late. Getting younger directors who know of a world with MTV, video games, and the Internet and you have a prescription for poor story telling and just bad filmmaking.

Time to get back to the classics, and relearn what we already know. It's the story stupid!

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