After updating the archive’s catalog the last couple of days, (40 terrabytes worth), I was finally ready to crack the DOG project this morning. Upon reviewing the major sequences, I had a series of epiphanies.
Cataloging the possibilities will facilitate good decisions. Along with the main acts there are elements of back story, exposition, plot nuance, character development, premise, world mechanics… after principle production I found many facets of my story to explore, there’s quite an inventory. Unfortunately, the interface of FCP is like looking down a tube, it’s too narrow to see everything, to visualize the relationships between scenes. I need peripheral vision.
There’s index cards certainly, but I’d also like to have images of the scenes to spread over a bulletin board. The process of printing visuals for every major moment will build my inner inventory, hook the neurons up.
It’s an old adage – a movie is made three times. Once with the script, twice with the production and thrice during the edit. I might argue that SFX is a fourth movie (motion graphics, foley, etc.) but let’s keep it simple.
Each mode has it’s own unique flavor. Storytelling via editorial is different from writing and production. A writer might describe a scene very specifically, but the cinematographer takes the scene beyond the script and moves more deeply into the story. Auspicious editorial can reach the root.
To dive deep, the edit shouldn’t try to serve the script or the shots, it’s got to serve the story. Since I wrote and shot DOG, I might have fixated on those achievements and forgotten that there was a new movie to make. What is the story that the edit will tell?
Now I’m fresh and feeling very free, ready to dance and deliver. I am excited to reengage with the content and extract the magic… and you guess what?
There IS magic!
I made lots of mistakes on location and coupled with the usual unforeseen catastrophes, the raw material isn’t ideal. Welcome to my first film. Even so, I must say… there are moments. Enough I think, maybe just.
The current cut is 26:40 in length. For film festivals, a working edit of approximately 12 minutes is the grail. How to get there? 1) Feeling like an editor and 2) establishing inner and outer inventory are key. Another strategy is to limber up with an audacious exercise – cutting a 3 minute version. To make this fly, only the essential elements can survive. If I can bust it down to 3 minutes, then 12 minutes will feel like extravagance. I’ll start with revisiting the actual script… What’s essential to the story? Any fat? Simplify!
August 6th is drawing to a close. By Wednesday August 10, I’ll have my 3 minute version. That’s 3 days or a minute per day! The next objective is to complete the inventory by August 15, 8 days from now. With the inventory in place, I can then begin the 12 minute cut using placeholders for SFX elements. I want a working version by September 5, when the lady returns from Spain. I may then take a short break and visit NYC for a week.
After all this, I’ll project the next set of milestones. The remainder of September will probably be dedicated to testing with anonymous audiences. Depending on the results, I’ll either do another edit iteration or move into SFX.
Faisal in the house
Faisal Azam has generously offered to produce DOG, which basically means riding herd on me. We talked on the phone today and he gave me the green light on these deliverables. 3 minute version, here we come!