PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
After the storm – calm? After the whirlwind – the day of reckoning? And after the filming of YOURDADSGAY – the edit.
It has always seemed very clear to me that this whole project fell into very distinct categories. Raising the money – putting together a Production Crew – managing a four-day shoot. The success of each stage was a whole experience, a mad rollercoaster ride of bravado and despair, which was entirely and totally preoccupying. I could no longer imagine what a Production Crew would look like when I was frantically shaking my hat for any pennies I could catch, as I could envisage actually getting through a four-day shoot when I was fixated on trying to find a Crew. In fact the only way to successfully accomplish each section was to focus on it solely – and ignore what might come next. So, the idea of the Edit seemed as remote as Mars from Venus to me. Thankfully, Duncan – whose real technical skill and experience was as a top-notch editor, could hardly wait to get the material on his Computer. He was impatient to get the filming out of way so he could get his hands on the footage and start weaving some editorial magic.
We were – are – incredibly lucky that Duncan has this skill, for several reasons. It meant that he was able to direct with an appreciation of the kind of shots he needed to tell the story – because of his experience editing other director’s films. And not just the shots themselves – but the rhythm and tone of the shots. Was YOURDADSGAY more like a sitcom than a comedy drama? I wasn’t sure then – and I’m still not sure. But I do know that Duncan has edited both styles and has an instinctive understanding of each. This gives us options. We also had a little money left in the Fundraiser pot – to pay for whatever choices we made.
Options. Ah – options. This is the buzz word we share immediately after the filming, and before Duncan starts to assemble a rough cut – what he describes brilliantly as a ‘Building Site’. We are both so exhausted from the filming there is inevitably a hiatus – perhaps a necessary distancing from the material to allow for a more critical approach when starting the edit.
Duncan has by now compiled a rough cut which I and a few others have watched. I think it’s worth passing on a few of our responses to the material to show you the kind of considerations that emerge from this early version – and the options that are available to us.
- The use of C.U (CLOSE UPS), POV (POINT OF VIEW) and WIDE SHOTS. In an intimate scene between three characters there are issues about eye lines – are characters really looking in the right direction? Basically, when you create a circle and direct within it, it makes it more difficult to suddenly use a shot from outside that circle.
- The 180 line. This is defined as follows –
‘In a dialogue scene between two characters, a straight line can be imagined running between the two characters and extending to infinity. If the camera remains on one side of this line, the spatial relationship between the two characters will be consistent from shot to shot, even if one of the characters is not on screen. Shifting to the other side of the characters on a cut will reverse the order of the characters from left to right and may disorient the audience’
By breaking this rule, one signals a big dramatic shift. Would it work in a drama like this?
- To Edit for comic effect is to anticipate audience response and emphasise – a visual gag, for example, where you cut to a character’s reaction. How much do we want to emphasis the purely comic? YOURDADSGAY is witty but not structured as a comedy – so to introduce more emphatic editing would be to lose some of the nuance, and subtext.
- CLOSE UPS. There are moments in any story when you keep a respectful distance, or when you go in for a Close Up to emphasise a character’s reaction – and thus our identification with that reaction. There is such a moment in YOURDADSGAY where I feel strongly we need to go in for that Close Up, but Duncan isn’t so convinced. He argues – and he has a point – that to hold back a little would allow an audience greater empathy. We decide to experiment with both.
- Voice Over. Generally, I am not a huge fan of V/O in Films – it feels like a cop-out dramatically, an authorial need to explain something that should be conveyed through the character’s interaction. In YOURDADSGAY I use moments of V/O for three characters – Jack, Karen and their daughter, Naomi. My principle is that we hear this V/O only after a gesture of affection – a kiss, a hug, some physical contact.
But of course, what seems like a tremendous idea on paper may very well not work on film, with other factors to consider. The Script is the architecture of the film, but the editing is the practical response to those architectural plans and must allow for a degree of flexibility. Options again.
- The finished film will contain a lot of onscreen graphics, particularly around Jack’s use of Aps – two specifically. At this stage we can only imagine what they might look like, but their contribution to the style and tone is rapidly becoming very clear.
- Finally, and perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY, Sound & Music. It quickly becomes clear that we need to think about how to use some music for the scenes. In fact, our musical choices are now paramount. To quote Duncan, ‘Music is now the most important part of building this film…. What would be super useful is sending me music and as much of it as possible to try and find the emotion per scene’
What’s interesting about this is how Duncan conceives the music making a huge contribution to the emotional intensity of various scenes – Naomi alone in her bedroom, Karen gazing at herself in the mirror, of Jack out on the prowl in the local park, looking for casual sex. I intuit this absolutely and feel right now it is our priority. I want the music to feel urban, of the moment, and cinematic too – a cross between BURIAL and THE XX. But of course, we can’t afford that – so instead I have asked my daughter, Hannah, who is a DJ and Composer, if she can come up with something.
Go on – have a listen. Let us know what you think?
So – we are in the thick of it, hypercritical of what we have created thus far, but also aware of a sense of achievement, anxious to make the right editorial decisions, but also paralysed by options. But the fog will clear, the deadlines met – and then we move onto the next stage.
Oh, my heavens, next stage? What’s that?