Last week Miguel Ferros and I locked the edit of my short fantasy-drama Stop/Eject. This project represents the first time in seventeen years of filmmaking that I’ve worked with an editor, rather than doing it myself. I found it an extremely positive experience and I wonder why I’ve never done it before.
Miguel’s cut makes the story clearer, the characters more consistent and the emotions more real. Not to mention the fact that it’s paced much better, coming in a good minute shorter than my tightest cut.
Filmmakers are always told that they shouldn’t edit their own material. I liked to think I was an exception to the rule, that I could put the baggage of preproduction and production aside and cut with fresh eyes. Perhaps you’re thinking the same as you read this, just like I did when I read things like this in the past. Then like me you’ll only discover how wrong you are when you finally try working with an editor.
If I was to compare my cut to Miguel’s side by side, I have no doubt that where he has made a different decision to me, in most cases I made my decision at least in part because it looked pretty, or it was a shot I had had in my head since I first started writing the script, or it was a shot that had been particularly difficult or time-consuming to get, or because I somehow felt like it had to be that way because it had always been that way. Miguel simply chose the best material to advance the plot and characters.
It was a real joy to finally see some of the film’s key moments working in a way they never quite have before. I now look forward to what I’m sure will be equally positive experiences as the film splits off in three directions:
- Composer Scott Benzie, profiled in a recent post, begins writing the score.
- Sound designer Henning Knoepfel begins creating and layering the sound effects.
- Half a dozen rotoscoping and compositing artists begin work on a variety of visual effects shots.