Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I'm coming to Melbourne.
A couple of years after my last visit I'm returning to the scene of several crimes.
I'll be staying in Collingwood with my oldest friend. Well, the friend that I've known the longest at least, she's just turned 30 and just got engaged, and somehow I managed to miss both of those events so here I come.
I'd love to throw words in the face of some of you Melbourne folk, or at the very least buy you a glass of wine (and not smoke a sneaky cigarette around you Ms P) and have a yarn.
Easter is the time. Mr J. Christ did some stuff and we get a holiday. Yay him! I'm going to celebrate his sacrifice by having a brilliant weekend and if you happen to be in Melbourne and fancy a wine then drop me a little number.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Oh, Bon Jovi, how you made me feel... I'm halfway there...
In the ongoing saga of editing a show that may or may not turn out to be any good, here is the latest in what hopefully will be a very short run of posts.
Let's call this little number "Playing Well With Others".
Editing is a pretty specialised skill. As I mentioned last week there's plenty of people that can press the buttons, but not too many that can press the buttons that will press your buttons, if ya know what I mean. And no, Kimba, I didn't mean that button.
What also separates a good editor from the reams and reams of average editors is the ability to take direction.
When I'm working in the edit suite I am King. That sounds trite, and more than a little narcissistic, but sadly, and fortunately (odd combo), it's true. Luckily for me I realised a few years ago that there's people out there that are significantly better than me at doing things that I don't know how to do as well as them, and I could probably learn to be better at my job by shutting up, swallowing my novelty oversized ego and listening. I still think I'm King on these occasions... just a quiet one that gets told what to do...
Example... the food show... producer is a woman in her early 40's. Unimaginative would be kind. Hell, boring would be kind. But, she's the producer. She's the boss. (small Tony Danza chuckle...)
So today, as I sat in my lounge with Ms Producer beside me cutting an episode that she'd directed a few weeks ago I swallowed every impulse to try and steer the show towards my little vision and instead concentrated on what she wanted to see on the screen in front of her. The product we've ended up with doesn't look as good as I want it to, doesn't match what I know I could bust out if I had three days with no interruptions, but it's what she wants and as an editor on this particular job that is far and away (small Tom Cruise Irish accent chuckle) the most important thing.
He he, small Tom Cruise... sometimes this shit writes itself!
Aaaand back to it... The difference between this show and most others I've worked on, including many music shows, many dramas, docos and one feature film that all of you will have seen, is that my opinion was listened to. It sure wasn't alway acted on, but it was always listened to. And that's all you can ask for.
It's also why I've been carving out a role as a director. Because if I'm the only one I have to argue with then I'm almost certain that I'm usually going to win. There are also minor aspects of control freakism to it, but whatever. You are.
My long winded point is that being an editor is a strange balance between giving up control, and trying to take control. In advertising you'll be working with the producer, creative director, art director, director of photography, account manager, casting manager, the assistant account manager, the director, the executive account manager and the client that the commercial is actually for... that's why I don't do TVC's anymore...
But on some jobs you can help shape something that really changes what was originally put in front of you. And it's the helping that makes it such, such, such a rewarding job. Taking footage that someone has put their heart and soul into and then making it even better...?
There's nothing like that feeling.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Which is worse? Is it worse to do a average job on something that you really want to be good, or is it worse to a bad job on something that you know can't be good no matter how much effort you out in?
For the past two (and a bit) weeks I've been editing a series for a company that I worked for last year. This company is small but incredibly well respected. I should have been cutting the food show but I've made concessions and have devoted my days to the other company show, and my nights to cutting the food show.
They're both very different. The company show is a semi-scripted comedy show about back-yard cricket. Think 'The Office' or 'Flight Of The Conchords' and you've about got it. The food show is semi advertorial where the vineyards and suppliers involved have paid cash to be on the show. Without bias I can say that the cricket show is some of the funniest tele I've seen in a long time. And I watch a LOT of tele. The food show, which let's face it, I should be biased about given that I directed most of it, is not that great. And that makes me feel bad.
As an editor I get to work with loads of different material. In 17 years doing this job I've cut music vids, docos, dramas, comedies, porn (yes, really) and almost everything that comes across your screen. And now working in my lounge editing footage that I directed I feel miserable.
I've just come back to the screen after a gorgeous Marlboro Light (sorry) and have realised that I'm missing the point.
I meant to write about cutting. So here ya go...
Many people can push the buttons that are involved in running an edit suite. The trick that makes a good editor (and it's no trick, it's learnt at the breast of a mentor) is working out a tempo.
Whatever you're watching there's a tempo to it. Whether it's a commercial, a sitcom or a re-run of your favourite movie... there's a tempo. And like any of your favourite songs this tempo will bring you up, engage you, level you off, bring you up again, level you off again, and then raise once more... and hopefully raise some more... before finishing you off with someting that makes you feel as if you've had sunshine mainlined into your femoral bits.
Doing this however takes a bit of time. There have been 30 second commercials I've worked on that have had over seven hours of footage. There have been music vids that have been four minutes on air that have had only twenty minutes of footage. There are degrees of competence in directors (and degrees of competence in editors) which make a massive difference. But the biggest thing comes back to tempo.
As an editor you can fool people. But you need to feel people. And if you can't do that, for whatever reason then well...
You can manipulate emotion according to the timing of an edit. You can make people cry with a well chosen audio bed. You can make them feel uplifted with a well timed look... Or you can ruin it all with a badly timed cut from one shot to another. Sometimes just a few frames make a difference.
And sometimes you just want to leave people.
(if you've read this far, go and see Watchmen at the movies. Seriously, it's a work of genius)