Monday, September 28, 2009

2nd Cut Screening and State of the Cut

Today, Beth and I watched the 2nd Picture Cut of Another Life.

Usually, the first 4 cut screenings are depressing for a director.

But I got choked up. Beth and I were elated. It's so damn good!

The dinner scene is beautiful to behold. The scene where Angela drinks away her memories of Tom dying had tears in my eyes. The ending was just as powerful as when we cut it. The relationships, the character arcs, the mounting suspense... it's all there.

However, I feel like I'm too close to the film right now. The film is running a little over 22 minutes, which is a lot longer than the patience of most studio execs and festival audiences. But I love the film so much, I can't think of what to cut out right now.

I feel like (I can only guess) a father seeing his baby walk for the first time -- I'm just so proud to see her standing up on her own two feet and walking in a straight line!

Beth, as usual, brough me down to Earth. We had the official State of the Cut talk and discussed how to improve this film from hereon out. Here are her notes:
  • It takes a while before we get engaged in Angela, somewhere around the scene where Angela remembers Tom dying and drinks those memories away. Start the film with this scene, then go to the poker scene.
  • The tension dissipates in the first bar scenes. Use different takes of Angela than the ones we have in there now to show her seething with nervous apprehension that Scott is sitting one bar stool away from her.
  • We're missing a beat in the balcony scene. Perhaps this scene's structure is too similar to the dinner scene? Too elegant, free-flowing, and lingering? Beth and I have some ideas to use other takes of Scott to show his anger and the scene's inherent violence.
  • Then there's some general tweaks and trimming to do.
Some of the stronger notes came out of conferences with Beth's mentor, Norman Hollyn. He has an uncanny sense of good taste, a great eye for story problem, as well as clear and consise solutions to these problem areas. A director's best friend, really.

But what do next? Make that one essential change for the first scene, cut out redundant dialogue and moments, trim wherever we can, tweak the scenes just right, and carefully shape the rise and fall of the suspense throughout the film with a big picture perspective.

And that's it. Pretty damn good progress, for a 2nd Cut, I'd say.

So I'll be watching the 2nd Cut a few more times with more a critical and objective eye. There's also dishes, laundry, writing, homework, emails, and business to attend to.

Stay tuned for Thursday, when Beth and I first dig into the Third Cut!

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