Monday, March 28, 2005

Also, a note on Friday's entry concerning "creative editing".

I think part of the reason I want to make a movie without relying on "creative editing" or heavy cutting is because part of the reason I am attracted to fictional filmmaking at all is because I want to work in an arena where I can explore human emotions, either my own, or an actors, or whomever. I think heavy editing can make a film more emotional if used well, but I want to remain true to the process of making the film. I want the editing to complement the performances of the actors, and not to be something which overwhelms or disguises those performances.

I am wondering if there could be a distinction between an intellectual approach to editing and an emotional approach to editing...
Increasing my editing potential by experimenting with new ways of editing, I am reminded that part of being an editor is feeling like an editor. It is taking the craft seriously. This was referenced in an earlier entry, this "feeling" of being part of something more than my little laptop would suggest. I hooked up a Shuttle Pro, the one Denny and I split over two years ago probably, the one which was sitting at the Co-op unused for almost that entire time, and I took to standing up while cutting up clips, and I found I interacted with the clips differently. I don't know if I can explain it, I don't know if it supposed to make any sense, only that I discovered things again. It has been a long time since I felt like I was learning anything new in FCP. It just kind of got to a point where the buttons I didn't use, were buttons I was never going to use. It was as if I had convinced myself I had reached my skill capacity as an editor. I think that comes from not being around many other editors who have skill sets that challenge mine. I mean, don't mistake me, there are plenty of other editors in the city who are as talented, or moreso, than myself, but I rarely see their work. So I am left to flounder.

For some reason, that changed, and I am learning again. I don't know why, but I sure am happy about it.

Scene #20

A few lines of dialogue I wish I had included, or had gotten a better take of.

Mike: Can you imagine me driving this?

Dave: Get X to the Z out here and Pimp This Shit.

Mike: Thirdly its my dads.
Dave: Your dad is dead dude.
Mike: What's your point?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Talking about editing with Andrew, creative editing is appropriate for this film. The thing is... it can't be some clever gimmick. It needs to develop naturally out of an approach to the subject matter. I don't know why I have this resistance to the phrase "creative editing." I keep thinking about Memento and I hold it up in my head as something to avoid. I liked the movie, but for some reason it is not the kind of movie I want to make. Here is a key. I want to make a different sort of movie. I actually want to make a movie that doesn't rely on heavy cutting to work. I want the cutting to illuminate the characters in some way, not the story. This is where Andrew and I agree I think. Ultimately. We want the stress to be on the characters, and not the story. But the question is, in this film, how well do the characters hold up, as compared to the story?

Here are a couple of other notes from the past few days...

Scene #12

What is the purpose of this scene? It could be the lead in to the Convenience Store scene. Besides that, it is an opportunity to show Mike and Noah bickering and tell the audience that Dave is reluctant to track over Noah's beat. Also to show Noah and the two other white boys bumping too some shit. I think some ADR would be necessary though, to kind of say "Turn it down, I can't hear you" or some shit. It should be silly and ironic.

Maybe we start at night so we can make a quick transition to the next day and we get an immediate sense of the passing of time. Credits come in with the transition to the next day.

Wonder if we try and limit the scope to a week. Is that reasonable? Let's try it... Saturday night to Saturday night.

Danita: Is there any fucking real news in this town?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh by the way....

Thanks Robin.
When we share everything with everyone, what is left for us?

There is not nearly enough of the feminine in Dollars & Signs at this point. I amputed Danita's sexuality, though Lisa of course brings her inherent beauty to the role. We were unable to shoot most of the scenes with Trina's and none with Mike's mother. Tara and Emily are the only pure expressions of feminine will that I have. But they are not mature expressions within the context of the film. How do you feel about that you two? I have no doubt that I am going to engage in some additional shooting to remedy this situation. It is a scary thought for me now. Pulling the camera out again, but I have to begin considering it, as the film comes closer to legitimate rough cut status.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I was watching a program today, my uncle recorded it for me, about editing and editors. People like James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, the editor who worked on Pulp Fiction, the editor of Cold Mountain, etc., talking about the process of editing. It was helpful to watch I think, because it puts the process I am involved in, along with Andrew, in a historical context, all the way back to the early American and Russian films which first used the editing techniques I take for granted. I am so far away from their discovery that I forget they have names. They just exist to me. They are. I have no organized approach to editing. No real theory. Although I think perhaps there is a theory somewhere within me, I just have not drawn it out yet. I mean these men sit in one room and cut a 2-hour film that millions of people will see, and they take as long as 6 months sometimes. I have worked on Dollars & Signs in a Starbucks in Dallas, the Republic coffeeshop, the Media Co-op, a little farm area outside of Oxford, MS, my grandmothers dining table, my bedroom... all on my little laptop. In some ways I am not connected to these editor's process at all, but in some ways I am doing the exact same thing they are doing... faced with the same choices. What stays in? What goes?

Today I started to cut down Tape 10 (Dave and Mayor, Dave in record store) but I noticed one of the clips has no audio, so I have to recapture it. Luckily Ron asked me to take his camera home after we shot him at the Deli last night, so I have that option.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A librarian at the Memphis Public Library just walked up to me and told me I was doing something illegal. She was serious. I am watching a copyrighted movie in a public space. I have been watching Serpico all week. I set my laptop up and pick the DVD off the shelf and watch 20 or 30 minutes of it, so that by the end of the week maybe I've finished it. It's kind of like a poet keeping a book of poetry near, I guess. But for some reason, though I can sit and read books in the library all day, it is illegal to watch a movie. Of course, she also told me she couldn't do anything about it, just that... its illegal. So if I continue this is like my own little sit-in against copyright law.

Anyway, back to Dollars & Signs. I have been focusing on the peripherals of Dollars & Signs the last couple of days. Yesterday I printed up a final budget and and prepared to mail it off with the other documentation to SAG. I also broke up most of Tape 11, which includes the scene at Dave's MeeMaw's house, Carlton talking to his family and Dave playing Carlton's record. When I am done breaking these master clips into smaller clips I will go to the Media Co-op, and use the FCP Media Manage tool to copy them over to the firewire drive Andrew is working off of.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

This past weekend I spent four days on a little farm about 30 minutes from Oxford, MS capturing ALL of the remaining footage onto a brand new 200GB firewire drive. The money to buy the drive came from a job I was doing for a friend, transferring his old family 8mm films to DVD for him.

So, it was a fairly smooth process. A number of times FCP crashed on me while capturing a clip, or the computer froze and I had to reboot the whole thing, but for the most part it was a steady flow of data. It literally took all weekend and then some. Approximately 200GB of media, which if you use the 6 minutes per gig rule equals out to 1200 minutes... or 20 hours.

Also some of the clips were, without any sense that I can see, captured in at 29.97 instead of 23.98 which meant I had to delete them and recapture them.

All that behind me, the firewire drive is now sitting at the Media Co-op, and even as I type Andrew is working on cutting a new scene, the "Why are we doing it?" scene where Dave's path starts to diverge from Mike's.