Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cutter

For the past couple of months, the blog has been filled with offhand comments like “Jim this,” and “The editor that.” However, I realized recently that I haven’t yet taken the time to properly introduce you to our erstwhile cutter in residence, Jim McGivney, or as he’s known in certain circles, “The Irish Whiskey.” (Okay, I just made that up, but it would be a cool codename.)

Though he had been editing “rush cuts” of the film since the summer, Jim came into the post-production process relatively fresh. That’s to say that he had months to work at a leisurely pace without any deadlines or supervision and now, having lost that luxury, has me up his ass fortnightly.

In all seriousness, Jim was something of a lifeline during those hazy weeks towards the end when I started to lose myself in the process. He was close enough to the project to understand and sympathize, but distant enough to offer perspective. Jim talked me off a couple metaphoric ledges, helped remind me why I’m making Women’s Studies, and just gave me an outlet to bitch.

Not only that, but he gets my love of once great but now mediocre football teams (He’s a fan of both a Washington Redskins and Notre Dame. Tragic, I know.) as well as my appreciation of cheap beer and cheaper bar food.

If I have to spend the next few months figuring this movie out, I couldn’t have better company.

# # #

Lonnie Martin:
All right, man. Give me Jim McGivney: The E! Hollywood Story.

Jim McGivney:
“My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' in Mississippi...”

Let's see...I was born August 12, 1977 in Indianapolis, IN, after 24 hours of labor and the deft use of a pair of forecepts. The oldest of three, I've been more into television and music than most people for as long as I remember, though I didn't start to create until high school. I still remember the conversation that set me on my way to becoming a filmmaker: my Dad had read about a new film made by some first-time director that was getting rave reviews and that I could do as good a job, if not better, than that guy (the film was Reservoir Dogs, "that guy," Quentin Tarantino). Then I saw a great little movie called Clerks, made for next to nothing by a guy with even less experience than that Tarantino fella. Making movies suddenly seemed accessible and from then on I took a more active interest in my high school TV class and the movies I watched daily at my job as a video store clerk. After graduating from James Madison University, I got a job as a corporate video producer and first laid my hands on an Avid non-linear editing system. I also directed my first film; a short comedy called, cyber sex?, which marked the first collaboration between myself and a younger but equally hirsute Lonnie Martin. I've since worked with him on First Session and the award-winning 48 Hour Film Project entry, Under the Bed, and have spent every day praying that our wives don't find out about our thinly-veiled homosexual affair (though I suspect they know but just don't care).

LM:
Hirsute? You're not exactly folicly challenged these days yourself. What's that all about?

JMc:
Oh, this old thing? *Strokes chin* Well, after visiting the set in October I realized that I cannot call myself a Women's Studies crew member if didn't have wild hair sprouting from every pore north of my neckline. No, I'm actually growing this for a charity called Beards BeCAUSE, which benefits the Battered Women's Shelter of Charlotte. We grow our beards unhindered for two months, looking like hobos for our holiday photos and, in return, people pledge money which goes to benefit the Shelter. The idea is to take something commonly thought of as "manly" and associate it with helping those women who've been victims of a cowardly act. We're only halfway through the "growing season" but the response has been amazing.

LM:
Wow. So you're like the only crew member of Women's Studies who's actually walking the women's rights walk, not just talking the talk.

JMc:
Only from a facial-hair-growth standpoint - those other furry fellas are strictly recreational - besides, my beloved director and producer did throw a donation my way.

LM:
So, they say that and editor and a director develop a "special, one of a kind bond" during Post. Are you feeling it yet?

JMc:
If by that you mean, "Do you hate the sight, smell or thought of Lonnie Martin?" then, "No. Not yet."

No, I know the bond you're referring to, but I don't think we're there yet. The start and stop nature of our WS work together so far hasn't really allowed for it, nor has it been necessary. That'll start to develop after a couple rounds of rough cuts and notes are exchanged. Besides, this is our third project as director/editor so I'm sure it'll be quick to return - the relationship equivalent of the "shampoo effect" after a good bender, I'd say.

LM:
It's fitting that you use a hangover metaphor to describe our relationship. Okay then. Influences, both cinematic and non.

JMc:
God I hate these...they're too hard for me to narrow down, but it's your dime so...

Cinematic (aside from the aforementioned Miramax alum): Michael Mann, Tim Burton, David Fincher, Simon Pegg, John Carpenter. Non-cinematic: my wife, my family, Bill Hicks, Maynard James Keenan/TOOL, music of all varieties, a Catholic-upbringing, a lonely, tormented adolescence, comic books, Eliza Dushku.

LM:
Jim, we're one cut in. How's it feel?

JMc:
Oddly freeing. What's been made apparent by this first cut is that there is in fact a movie here; that, at the most basic level, we now know that those chunks of audio and video that you, the cast and the crew have spent the last few months collecting will tell the story we want to tell when strung together. It's still a long way from being watchable, but it is definitely in there.

Also, it's freeing for me because all the pieces of the puzzle are now at our disposal, whereas before there was always something missing. Be it a shot, a line of dialog or an entire scene, some part of Women's Studies simply did not exist and even if I didn't need it, it was unsettling. Now I literally have 10 hard drives full of puzzle pieces to choose from and, though it might take some digging, I know I'm going to be able to find the size and shape piece that I need at any given moment and that's a credit to the talent and hard work of everyone involved in production.

LM:
You seem to be enjoying yourself.

JMc:
So far I am... though we should do a follow up in February, when I hate the sight, smell or thought of you.

LM:
You mean when I ask you to burn all the footage, so we can become paper pushers?

JMc:
I'm already prepping the Strayer application, my man.

LM:
All this joking around and people are going to think we don't take this seriously. Filmmaking however (editing in particular) is supposed to be fun. How do you find the right balance?

JMc:
Jokes are the only thing that drown out the anguished cries of my soul, Lonnie.

Actually, that whole idea that "filmmaking is fun" is a misnomer; a god-damned filthy lie, if you will. It's a passion, true, and one that I enjoy, but it's not "fun." Does agonizing over whether or not your artistic vision will drive you to greatness or financial ruin sound like fun? Sitting alone in a dark room listening to the same three lines of dialogue loop for ten hours sound like a real hoot? Is spending thirty-six sleepless hours with a cast of beautiful, blood-soaked actresses your idea of a good weekend? Well then, let...wait, where was I going with this?

LM:
See? It is fun! I get what you're saying though. It's worthwhile, but it isn't exactly easy.

JMc:
Exactly. It certainly can be fun, but more often it is exhausting, frustrating WORK. What makes it worth enduring is the end result, watching that final product with friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers; seeing their reactions, hearing that first scream/laugh/gasp (the intentional ones), feeling the validation of time and effort spent. For all it's glitz and glamour, film makers do what they do for the same reason anyone produces anything: passion.

That and those beautiful, blood-soaked actresses.

Women's Studies

4 comments:

Eliza D. said...

I'd hit it.

Joey said...

Too bad that's my thinly challenged cousin Eliza Dubois. She's a big fan of hairy men...which may explain her predilection for the homeless.

Mc said...

Jesus - some of your throwaway entries got more chatter than this. I know some actors who'd better start with the praise or risk incurring the wrath of my Ctrl+X...

MBS said...

wow, I love Jim. He is so interesting and creative and witty and I can't imagine having a more wonderful editor! He is truly an amazing man