Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brown Spots

(Can you hear that in the wind? It's the echo of a sad voice crying, "The blog is late! The blog is late!")

We're in the middle of a "break" from Women's Studies until after X-Mas. Break is a relative term as Jim McGivney and I are both down in the trenches doing file maintenance and organization in preparation for the big "footage replacement" phase of editing.

I've lost count as to how many times I've watched the various "rough cuts:" at this point around a dozen. (We're on the second iteration, which reminds me that I need to come up with a good naming system for all the different cuts we'll have.) Sometimes I take notes, but mostly I just watch, trying to forget I know every single nuance of the film. The trick is to get sucked in and carried away. That way the things which are a bit wonky or off jump out at me. I'm still focused on the big picture rather than minute details. (I've heard I'll find both God and the Devil hidden in those.)

Is it good? Well, I think it rocks but I made it so you can't really trust me. See, being the director of a movie is like being a parent. The movie is like my kid and because it's mine, I think it's smart, talented, and beautiful. The truth is that a lot of kids aren't any of those things. Most of them are self-centered, clumsy, and smell like urine. I have to look at the film not as a parent who loves it, but just as any old person on the street. I have to be able to see it for the awkward, piss-smelling brat it is so I can knock some sense into it, show it some manners, and teach it not to piss itself. (Can you see why Cindy and I should never have children?)

And I can. Self-criticism is one thing I've always prided myself on. If something isn't working, I'll let it go. That's really where I'm at in the process now. Taking all the stuff that doesn't matter, isn't necessary, or just any good and getting it out of there. I wrote before about looking at whole scenes to cut, but that's kind of like throwing out an apple because of one brown spot. You just cut the brown spot out is all. The rest of the apple is a tasty treat. Even so, I'm sure there will be a few apples that just can't be saved.

In Women's Studies, most of those "brown spots" are pieces of dialogue that are either unnecessary, redundant, or just plain don't work. It's five seconds here and ten seconds there. It's looking at a scene that's three minutes long and saying, "This really could be cut in half." It's catching the places where the movie seems to gear down just a little too much. Women's Studies is something of a throwback to classic, slower paced horror movies. (I showed a close friend the rough cut and he said that if it was 1970s and I lived in Italy I'd make millions.) That said, there's a fine line between "slow build" and "slow and boring."

I call the process "trimming the fat." What I want is the leanest, meanest movie I can get. Once I have that, then Jim and I can go in and dress it up.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Are you saying Joey smells like urnie?