Friday, October 30, 2009

Into the 4th Cut

This week, I held back a tidal wave of midterms with my bare hands and just now resurfaced. But the cutting has been going very well!

Monday, my editor Beth incorporated our long, comprehensive outline for the 4th Cut and started cutting on her own. Yesterday, I came in to see her work... and damn, is it working.

Cutting out a few scenes and significantly trimming others -- down to the bare bones of what's emotionally riveting for Angela and the audience -- really gets it to work. Whatever keeps the pace flowing...

Editing is all about the small things. Like so:

Scene #1: Angela drinks away war memories
We received a lot of notes that this scene feeling too jarring, like we're thrown into an intense story and we're reeling to catch up. We added one shot -- a wide shot of Tom and Angela playing cards in the Iraq poker game flashback -- tweaked and re-shaped some of the edit points, and the first scene started to work so well. The scene felt clear, well-paced, and engaging. Loving it.

Scene #2: Angela begs Frank to let her in
This scene is perfect as is. No need to touch it.

Scene #3: Doug forces Angela to kill Scott
Beth cut out some dialogue and changed the ending with some re-purposed footage and it was already working very well.

We only needed to shape the scene to make the poker game clearer, connect us more to Angela's emotional experience, and make Doug more menacing. We spent a little more time on the wide at the top of the poker game, and then the game made so much more sense. Cutting out one sentence of Doug's speech and overlapping dialogue a little more, really ratcheted up the suspense and scared the hell out of us. We went for a subtler, quieter ending: Doug speaks softly, saying "Then we'll kill you and find someone else to do it." Then he chuckles a little and just leers at her... and god, was it terrifying.

Scene #4:
Angela follows Scott to the bar
Right now, we're smash cutting from Angela's horror-struck face as Doug looms over her, saying "You have three days" to Scott leaving his office and Angela sitting right outside. And it's fantastic. Also -- gasp! -- we cut out the whole middle bit of Angela trailing Scott as he turns the corner. Losing that piece keeps the tension up and the story charging forward and we don't miss a beat.

Scene #5: Scott asks Angela out
Beth intuitively cut out some dialogue -- and now the scene no longer lags in the middle, keeps the tension up, and only contains the most emotionally riveting moments. We re-shaped it for a while, using the best pieces of each performance, and trimming here and there to keep the rest of the scene's pacing in line with the new cuts.

Then we were 35% through the new cut and called it a day!

We also made some radical cuts with the scenes later on, and they're working very well! I'll be reviewing the footage over the weekend so I can come up with solutions to new problems and make sure we're using only the very best takes.

I'm excited to get back to work next week. We've got a 4th cut deadline by the end of next week, so we've got a lot of work to do to finish the cut in time. So stay tuned for Monday!

Oh yeah, the Total Running Time is now 17min25sec. BAM.

Happy Halloween! Here's something to get you in the spirits.

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