Anything beyond "that's a wrap" has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Part of making Cancer Hair has been the big opportunity to see the process from idea through to completion and festivals - including the "dark arts" of post production.
Editing - in my mind - has always been that thing that boys do at the end of the production process to get the lovely bits of footage that have been shot into some semblance of order. While it is in its basest format this, I have a whole new appreciation for what goes on in the editing suite now I have been through it with a project that I care about.
We started with an assembly edit which came in just about ten and a half minutes. The assembly edit is where the editor more or less matches the footage to the script. It is here you can immediately see what is working and what is not. For me at this point, the film was sagging in places and there ere a couple of shots that - although in order - just didn't work.
So, we started hacking. Five edits later. I thought we had locked. Dean, my editor and I sat back at just over eight and a half minutes and felt pretty damn proud of ourselves.
Then I showed the film to my friend Chris Jones. Chris is known for not pulling his punches if you ask him for feedback, and although I wasn't really looking forward to getting smacked in the face I did want his opinion. He's been doing this far longer than I have and I needed an objective set of eyes on the film.
He watched the film as soon as I sent it over and then gave me feedback. We went through it line by line, scene by scene and he pointed out things that were a)obvious b) that I knew but I didn't want to admit and c) that I plain refused to see. Frankly, it fucking stung. But as Chris said, in order to protect the film I needed to make the big and difficult decisions now or I'd look at it on the screen at whatever festival it screened at and see the problems identified amplified.
And while I didn't incorporate all his suggestions in the film I did take on a fairly good chunk of them. So, Dean and I went back to the edit and unlocked the picture and took another minute off.
And what do you know - I think it looks hell of a lot better. Less is definately more.
As for editing, I have gained such a respect for this art. Creating pauses, cutting lines, creating a rhythm for the film. The editing brings it alive and allows you to tell a story from the footage you have. It might not neccessarily be the story you thought you'd tell - line for line - in the shoot but with any luck it still has its emotional resonance.