Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finished 2nd Picture Cut!

Today, the editor Beth and I finished the 2nd Cut of Another Life!

And we're a week and a half ahead of schedule!

As this is the Director's cut, I spent the last four weeks visiting Beth's Editing Suite, cutting the film together, crafting the available footage into the story that best fit my original vision -- the closest thing that comes to "watching the movie in my head."

Usually, the Director's Cut is a depressing affair.

Usually, the Director realizes in this cut that the footage does not and will not match their original vision ever.

But this Director is very happy with his (and Beth's!) Director's cut!

We finished the day with shaping the transitions between scenes, putting in temp music, and smoothing out audio. We glimpsed some of the scenes we haven't looked at in a while...

And the rest of the scenes are just as powerful (if not more so!) then when we first cut them.

The big challenge of the day was re-cutting the climactic balcony scene -- at the end of a romantic date, Angela pulls a gun on Scott, her only way out of her lethal bet with Doug.

And guess what? We fixed it. And it rocked.

How did we do it? We did our homework.

Early this morning (too early), I wrote down a moment by moment emotional beat sheet for both Scott and Angela's character arcs. Then I reviewed the footage. Beth and I agreed on a thesis for a cutting style where we focus on Scott, building suspense by watching him beg for his life and then showing little snippets of Angela with a stoneface on the verge of cracking.

I cracked how to reconfigure the scene on watching the climactic begging scene at the end of the Korean action masterpiece, Oldboy. My favorite film. See it.

In the climactic scene of Oldboy, the hero begs his nemesis for one last shred of mercy, and instead of intercutting between the hero and the nemesis -- we never see the nemesis' face. The editing focuses only on the hero begging and we watch his face fall and contort with fear, sadness, rage, and desperation every time he asks the nemesis something, and the nemesis doesn't answer. One of the most brilliant performances I have ever seen.

Then I saw something in the third take of Scott's close up: he tells Angela "I'm a father. Kaylie needs me," and then as we watch Scott wait for an answer, and he doesn't get it, we see his face shift to heartrending desperation as he shouts "You can't do this!" Powerful performance by Robert W Evans.

This one moment became our inspiration for cutting the scene. Long, lingering shots on Scott begging, getting no answer, and watching his emotional transition -- but also cutting to Angela when we feel the need to get a succinct, suspenseful reaction.

Then, since this scene was so complex in tone and performance, I made a cut list -- exactly which pieces of which takes to use from beginning to end.

Beth and I went through the cut list. She had a very similar impulse to linger on Scott to amp up suspense and shaped certain moments in ways I hadn't imagined that heightened the romance, the performances, the suspense, and the ending.

What an ending. Very powerful... wow...

Stay tuned for Monday -- when we watch the 2nd Cut with fresh eyes, have a "State of the Cut" meeting, and discuss where to go next with the film from here!

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