Editing dialogue is super hard, but really, really rewarding (if and when it works).
Shooting with one camera as we did, and with a script that was open to a degree of improvisation means I’m now assembling one conversation from maybe ten variations on that dialogue. Phrases are given different emphasis, read in differing orders, overlap the other characters dialogue, or are missed out entirely from some takes – and while piecing this together to make a coherent chat is a lovely thing to do when it works, it’s an exhausting process to get right once you factor in continuity and the fact that maybe the best reading of one line is shot from the back of the head, or the best close up was paired with a flat reading.
Watching Shutter Island the other day there’s a scene where DiCaprio is talking to a guy through prison bars, from his side we see the inmate against the bars, head cocked, arm trailing over his own head with his fingers dangling down by his ear … the reverse shows him head straight clinging to the bars … it could be argued that thats not the film to chose to pick apart as theres a ton of intentional editorial glitches and tricks that are intrinsic to the plot reveal, but it didn’t seem so for that scene and its details like that that wind me right up and pull me out of a film. I understand why it happens, even more so given what i’m currently doing – I see that sometimes there’s simply no option and the plot has to override something as tiny as continuity of actions or positions (whoever decided to make a two hour primetime programme chronicling these errors as if some hilarious blooper reel wants flensing – ‘in this apparently Oscar winning classic scene you can see Bogart is reading page 12 of the book but in the next scene he’s on page 11!! AHAHAHAH!’ … ‘ here Orson Wells is clutching his fedora with clenched fists, wheras just two seconds later… he has relaxed his left hand a little!! TEE HEE HEE! Orson, you are a knob! HO HO HO!’ )
Anyways, essentially its a case of hacking out whats cack and hoping the rest sits together, and I have no idea whether what I’m working on today is particularly good – but I’m at last genuinely enjoying the process, so fuck it – I’m good with that for now!
These are sketches from the pad used to plan out the film. Nothing massively exciting, but they’re some early ideas and boards drawn up before the script was written, so they give a little insight into the stages the story went through. I’ve not posted up too much as there are overlaps with the current story, and some of it served as spoilers so I’ll avoid showing too much, but theres some early ‘idea’ scribbles, and a page or two of rough storyboards that ended up informing some of what we shot pretty specifically: like this and this.
It’s nice to see some of the early ideas in a physical format you can leaf back and forth through. I rarely manage to get past the first couple of pages of a sketchbook before I lose it or get bored and start another, so its been good that since I’ve been trying to write more, I’ve actually filled up a couple cover to cover, though it’s mainly words now rather than sketches.
As I say its just a really nice little document of the progression or ideas and how they change, which this one did pretty drastically. The first couple of pages show it was a far more eclectic mix of styles initially, a mish-mash of animation, finger puppets, animated eggs and live action. It was a far odder story too, more fantastical, very derivative of the kind of Strewwelpeter folk tales. I can’t say precisely why it changed so much, it was a slow process, but I guess the main thing is it just naturally gravitated more towards encompassing all my ambitions rather than one part, so rather than an art-house folio piece of animation that’d lurk in a corner of my showreel, it’s now a more restrained and subtle approach that probably sits more central in my reel, encompassing live action, storytelling but still a little bit of the fantasy stuff.
Having said that a bit of me looks at this stuff and thinks fuuuuuuck that would have been bloody great. I’m happy with where it ended up, which feels a lot more mature, less contrived, but the earlier stuff (which I may well stick up at later date when spoilers don’t matter) still feels like there’s a creepy, dark little short that could be eeked out as a companion piece at some point. Maybe best left for when I’m planning my major retrospective at the Guggenheim or something eh?
Recently got a pdf through with the layouts for the opening titles – cheers Bill.
Also thought of a nice image for a poster/cover/graphic devicey thing while i was away. Going to go for a pylon/tree hybrid with a nest on top – works as a striking, bold image, but also a non spoiler as it gives away bog all about the story, but might hopefully gain some extra nuance once you’ve seen the film. Essentially I’m thinking a pylon outline with tree detailing within it replacing the struts. Would be even better if it was called ‘A Gift’ where the pylon could stand in for the ‘A’ letterform, but I prefer ‘The‘ I think, ‘A Gift’ sounds a bit shit – plus using a graphic of a pylon to replace an ‘A’ may well be a ropey typographic crime I’m oblivious to in my dim little mind. We’ll see.
Essentially like a mix of this and this …
but not this …
Given that I’m tinkering with bloody marketing graphics and title sequences you’d be forgiven for thinking the film was done! As if! The edit is also pootling along nicely though. Still slow, and still a way to go, but I’m resigned to that now, its clearly the way I work and there’s not much I can do about it given I didn’t manage to get an editor on board. I did manage to grab a really worthwhile chat with Phil before I went away though – its always great to get insightful help or feedback, and while I was overly fretting about a dialogue shot I had bugger all coverage on, and just wasn’t working for me and I couldn’t see a fix, Phil simply suggested ‘Then maybe just lose it?’.
Obvious, as all the best advice is in hindsight, and also bang on the nose correct.
and yes thank you, I had a nice holiday, ta for asking.
Too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Blog statistics, for example. cite in specific detail what searches were carried out to find your page, and can only lead to a slowly dawning realisation that what you presumed to be an ever growing crowd of fawning acolytes, dizzy at your skillicity and all round aceness-ness, were looking for someone else.
I now realise that due to this blog containing the not entirely unconnected phrases moustache, scott garrett and illustrator, it now acts merely as a pikey sarnie stall on the road to the big gig … a crap advert before the feature presentation … a grubby tunnel to the cathedral …
… you get the gist.
To these ends, and with numerous searches for the similarly hirsute Philip Ardagh removing what little solace I could take that at least my mum looked at this site to see what her son was up to (turned out she’s not arsed), I’ve grown a beard! At least this way I can pretend I’m at least similar to what they were after, and it beats my only other option of mimicking the stars of the ‘sneaky peak‘ world of webcam. Just.
I guess this post also just doubled my hit rate.
Everyone’s a winner, except Sally … who hates the beard.
Bill’s on the case with the type for the titles.
This is good news – it’s really not my forte, apparently Comic Sans no longer cuts the mustard.
In lieu of this thing taking forever, here’s some light reading courtesy of Raindance …
For all the furore surrounding the squishing of the Film Council, there is a voice that says it had it coming, and (apparently) rightly so. I can’t pretend to fall one side or the other, but I do know that a lot of the current turmoil is due to no acknowledgement of a replacement scheme, or even its necessity.
The people over at Savethebritishfilmindustry have pretty clear, and abundant opinions on this and other related subjects. They appear to be dancing on the grave of the Council, their main concern instead being the support of the British Studio system which is clearly also in peril and for which they offer numerous, if controversial solutions.
I had little contact with the Film Council, and what I did was always frustrating. Lack of eligibility for schemes due to gender, race, religion, age, film format, my location etc were among the many issues before the proposed films were even discussed … but it was something to aim at. A resource of knowledge, a data base of funding, and a magnet for people such as myself who quite literally had nowhere else to go. If it was flawed, then that at least needs to be recognised, but disbanding it is not a solution to those flaws, it merely gets rid of them along with any and every good thing it stood for in one sweeping motion. An alternative is what is required, whether its a re-booted, remade, sequel to the Council (Film Council Two: Electric Boogaloo?), or whether its a whole new routing of the funding structure – what’s currently lacking is even a suggestion of consideration of this, and its a problem needs broaching now rather than later as this will have more severe long term repercussions than any that have so far surfaced.
Clearly I don’t know any better than, or even as much as, anyone else about a solution, but I know I feel better for at least giving it some time and consideration.
So the titles are pretty much done. I’ll probably have another pass over the edit at a later date but its 90% completed, nice and simple, unfussy and – I hope – sets up the mood nicely.
Seems a bit gratuitous bunging an opening title sequence on a short, but I reckon it psychologically gives it a bit of gravitas as well as giving the viewer a moment of time to get into the idea of watching a story. Plus its not just showing off, the sequence plays an important part in the set up of the story, and needed to be a montage, it needed some music, and as a result, its just begging for some type.
Funnily enough this is an endangered technique, with James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, the Coens, Chris Nolan et al, choosing to forego opening title sequences to go straight into the film. I guess its a different kettle of fish when people are in a cavernous darkened theatre and there specifically to watch the movie – as opposed to having just been hooked up to it accidentally whilst surfing for locker room filth and with the latest idm rattling away in the background … anything that can serve as preparation to get a viewer into the mindset to watch a little story is good, and I think this’ll work.
If you care anything for the future of a UK based Film industry, please do take one minute to sign up to this …
If it’s good enough for this man … it’s worth doing.