This past Sunday, my editor Beth and I screened the 4th Cut for a very small audience...
We got some very hard notes. Very hard. It's always difficult to hear people you deeply respect as fellow filmmakers tear your film apart.
Screening your film is like standing naked amongst a room of strangers and hear them tell you exactly what parts of your anatomy they hate and want to change.
So I spent the past few days doing a lot of soul-searching... re-connecting with the core of the film, what it means to me and its intended audience... conceiving plans for shooting pick-ups... trying to find the right way to improve the film and ultimately make a movie that people will enjoy watching...
So after developing some elaborate plans for pick-ups and re-editing techniques, I met with Beth's editing mentor, Norm... and he brought us back down to Earth.
We do NOT need to drastically re-edit the film
We do NOT need to drastically re-shoot the film.
A long conversation with Norm helped us figure out a new structure for the flashbacks -- every time we see Angela on the verge of making a critical decision, we cut back to another piece of her experience in Iraq -- that will engage us more with Angela, make us sympathize and understand her all the more, and pull us into the emotion of the film.
There are some essential tweaks to the first scene to shape the tone, but most importantly, to make Angela's dilemma more clear and accessible. We also need to smooth out some transitions and add some temp sound design to enhance the emotion in some scenes.
And a One Day Shoot pick-up of Angela outside her door.
And that's it. Great notes from great mentors are SO great.
Beth and I had a State of the Cut meeting after all the notes sessions, and after a strangely short discussion, we found that we had just put together a pretty cohesive outline for the 5th Cut's new structure.
Beth will take the weekend to cut the film to this new outline. So stay tuned for Monday, when we'll get back to cutting together!