The editing stage

Time is very much fast spent and as we approach our hand in date the importance of concluding the final edit of my film ‘A bit about Angie’ grows immensely. In this post I will speak about the editing process and where we are so far from the perspective of a director.

As the writer and director of ‘A bit about Angie’ I have seen my little film idea grow and blossom into a fully formed media text. The process from pre-production to post has been both exciting and extremely challenging for the team and I, but we are not finished just yet. Like with any media product the necessary hours have to be spent refining and editing the text in the aim to release it in it’s best possible form. The importance of good quality editing can not be taken for granted because ultimately the final edit will either make or break your film. ‘While screenwriters and directors are the first and second storytellers of a movie, editors are the third ones. Since editors are given a limited amount of footage, it may not appear so, but, through editing techniques, the editor may construct or deconstruct a narrative or documentary, and shape it to his or her own will’  (Elements of cinema 2016). So as the director and the original visionary for the film, I felt the need to be present for the majority of the editing process thus far and what remains of it. From the offset I worked along side the main editor for the film Adewale who is also the producer. We went back and fourth about the look we wanted for the film and also the editing style. After researching other films with iconic screen edits such as The Godfather (1972) and City of God (2002) we were clear that we wanted to take up the intercutting editing technique, as this method of editing best suits our film. Intercutting is when you ‘take two sequential scenes and cutting between them so that the scenes advance and complete together. Intercut scenes are either parallel action or cross cut scenes’ (Film Glossary 2009). Before we started the main bulk of the editing we watched the baptism of fire scene in The Godfather  as a reference point and a guideline into how we were going to cut the main kitchen scene with Frank and Daniel. This intimate scene between Billy’s father and best friend is the vocal point of the film and is the sequence which interlinks all the other cut scenes together. So far we have managed to emulate the cutting technique relatively well, which is great because this method really helps to build the intensity in a sequence and enables you to keep the audience engaged with alternating and developing scenes. In this section of my edited text thus far, we see a shot of Frank and Daniel in the kitchen (wide), then we cut to Billy awaiting the doctor at the pick up point (wide), then back to the escalating drama in the kitchen (medium/ close-up), then we cut back to Billy in the car with doctor (medium/ close-up). (Below is an example of the shot sequence mentioned above)

Here you can see a clear progression of two ‘intercutting’ scenes which are taking place at the same time in the world of the film.

This film has a very touching and emotional narrative.  I wanted to portray this through the cutting of the film and the shot selection. I urged the editor to use close ups of the characters reactions in the more dramatic and intimate moments in the aim to help the audience connect to characters more and ultimately the story. ‘A close-up of a person emphasizes their emotional state. A close-up exaggerates facial expressions which convey emotion. The viewer is drawn into the subject’s personal space and shares their feelings’ (Media college 2016).  We also worked on the pacing of shots and the use of silence to create some much needed tension in particular scenes. For example in the pub scene with the Doctor, Billy and Denise we used silence after the doctor asks the couple ‘better yet, whats my name?’. The room goes completely dead, Billy then turns to look at Dee for the answer she then shakes her head and looks away. The doctor then stamps his authority by thumping is hand on the table and saying ‘and thats how we are going to keep it’. This clever use of cutting and pacing really helps to build the tension in the scene and fear in Jonathan’s character, Billy.

ScreenShot2016-05-05at10.45.01
Shot described in text

The most dramatic piece of colour grading we went for in the edit was in the kids sequence at the beginning of the film. This scene is set in the summer of 2004. The shots of young Billy and Daniel are a montage of Angie’s memories, Billy’s mother. In this scene she begins to explain to audience how her son has died. To give these shots a golden, but vintage summery feel we isolated the images, balanced out their exposure/ brightness, then used a vignette preset on Magic bullet suite and added a softening layer to take the edge off the clips. All of these relevant steps helped to create the look which I envisioned in my head when I first wrote the text. This was very rewarding for me as the director because I was able to take the image I originally saw in my head a couple years ago and transform it into film.

As well as things going our way in the editing process, we also had a lot of major difficulties with sound and film whilst editing. Below I will break up the issues we had, what we attempted to do to fix the problems and wether it was successful or not.

Film:

  • We had many over exposed shots. (We attempted to solved this by lowering the exposure, manipulating the brightness and contrast)Not entirely successful because some shots are now too dark in places.
  • We had many shaky shots which warp stabiliser could not fix. (We attempted to replace the clip with a different take, or cut around shakiness) – We did not always have a replacing shot which fit, so a couple of shots will be shaky in the film. Unsuccessful.
  • We had difficulty cutting between certain takes as the actors would deliver lines differently each time. (We attempted to use one sound clip then lip sync the relevant film clip, we also just cut the clip and put it in with the different sound) – Syncing the lips movement rarely worked, using different sound clips in the same sequence causes issues. Unsuccessful.
  • Some of the film clips were out of focus and were not held for long enough before cutting. (We attempted to fix this by sharpening the images in post, or choosing another take entirely. We tried to reduce the pace of footage so that the shot could be held for longer) – When sharpening the image it lost detail and quality. There was not always a corresponding shot available to use. Slowing the shot down did not work as the sound clip would also be effected. Unsuccessful.

Sound:

  • Some video clips were without external sound as the sound operator did not press record. (We attempted to use ambience sound to cover up, we also tried to use the camera sound and looked at linking up the relevant clip with different sound from another take) – This worked on occasion but not if there was dialogue. We had to use camera sound at times which is bad because it peaks at times. Lip syncing rarely works as mentioned before. Partially successful.
  • In some external sound clips you can hear random people talking. (We tried to reduce the sound or use a different take) – Reducing sound meant that the sounds levels did not match and at times our best take visually was not the best take in regards to sound. Unsuccessful.
  • Too many sound layers. (We attempted to put all the similar sounds on one track i.e dialogue on tack 1. Although the sound recorder was further away at times due to a lack of space on set) – We had to tackle certain pieces of sound individually. Successful. 
  • Adding a new shot from a different angle when you are not using one sound track is difficult. (We tried to combat this by adding ambiance music to cover up the drastic change in sound) – This was unsuccessful as adding random sounds makes the piece seem disjointed. At times in the film you can hear the sound change in the same scene.

Working collaboratively and cohesively on this edit has been a stressful but enjoyable experience. At times it makes the process longer, but at least I am able to say what I like and don’t like straight without waiting weeks to give feedback. This experience has also taught me the importance of patience and taking regular breaks during this long and tedious process. As we plough on through this editing stage we will continue learn and focus our interests on being clever and astute whilst editing. (Below are a couple pictures from the editing stage)

References 

Elements of cinema (2016) Principles of Editing. Available at: http://www.elementsofcinema.com/editing/EDITING.html (Accessed: 5 April 2016).

The godfather (1972) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola [FILM]. USA: Paramount Pictures.

City of god (2002) Directed by Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund [FILM]. Brazil: Miramax Films.

The joy of film editing (2009) Film glossary. Available at: http://joyoffilmediting.com/index.php/glossary/i/ (Accessed: 5 April 2016).

Movieclips (2011) The baptism murders – the godfather (8/9) movie CLIP (1972) HD. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CDlBLvc3YE (Accessed: 5 April 2016).

College, M. (2016) CU – close up shot. Available at: http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/closeup.html (Accessed: 5 April 2016).

Giant, R. (2002) Magic bullet looks. Available at: https://www.redgiant.com/products/magic-bullet-looks/ (Accessed: 5 April 2016).

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