Instant Gratification

Closure. Its a simple enough idea, but it doesn’t always come when or how we expect. As an editor and as a filmmaker, it’s an idea I’ve been wrestling with for a while. You invest yourself in a certain story for years, but when is it time to close the book and move onto the next project?

When I first read the script for Heart of Now, an art house indie drama, I was struck by the story’s beauty. I just felt in my gut that it should play at Cannes. It just seemed like the right fit to debut and launch this particular story. I was of course a novice to the whole process at that time. I had huge expectations for the film and believed that everyone would feel as strongly about the project as I did. We submitted Heart of Now to Cannes and several other of the top tier festivals, and I was devastated and confused by the rejections. I didn’t get the instant gratification that I foolishly expected and believed I deserved.

Knowing of these rejections when we had our cast and crew screening I felt like I should write the closure blog for the film then, but I wasn’t ready yet. When the film had its premiere at the Dead Center Film Festival I also felt like that would be an ideal time for the closure post, but I just didn’t feel satisfied and couldn’t bring myself to do it. We played a few more festivals but the closure that I wanted eluded me.

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Back In The Saddle

It’s time to dust off the blog as much has happened since I last left off. Heart of Now has had a nice festival run, playing 8 festivals including its World Premiere at the amazing Dead Center Film Festival. And as soon as the ink dries, I can officially announce the film’s impending distribution deal, so stay tuned.

Also, in my time away, I got hitched. Which was truly an amazing day, and the best life decision I have made so far. The only minor down side was the wedding planning and having to turn down work to organize the big day. When you are freelance, it’s not the best to say no to work, as those connections soon find new connections to go to.

But all of my time off has truly been a blessing. While cutting behind the scenes for the studios has been great, my true passion has always been cutting narrative films and I have been using this extra time to really focus on that.

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Picture Lock!

It has been official for the past few days now, but I suppose it isn’t truly official until I have entered it in the editor’s journal. Coming in at a smooth 89 minutes I am proud to announce that Heart of Now has reached PICTURE LOCK! This is the entry I have been dying to write since I began this journal almost 2 years ago. It has been a long road but I know that all of this time has only benefited and made the film stronger.

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The Movie Has Emerged

I wrote a journal entry yesterday while waiting for the latest cut to burn to DVD. It didn’t have a lesson or an angle so much as it was just me venting in a round about way. I think I hesitated to post it because there was something not quite right about it, something was missing. That’s kind of how I have felt about the cut for the last 5 weeks. I had lost my momentum and my enthusiasm. As an editor, I was kind of just stuck.

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Focus Group Collaboration

This podcast was produced for an article at The Workbook Project and shows how we used test screenings and focus groups to reintroduce creative collaboration into the post-production and editing process of HEART OF NOW.


Deklun and Harmony

It was a fun and exciting past week at Sabi. A lot of old, friendly faces came through the studio, as well as one new one, Deklun. It was great to finally meet face to face after all of this time. What I really enjoyed was finding out that there are many parallels and similarities between his music process and my editing process. Thanks for coming and sharing your expertise with us Deklun!

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Cutting Major Scenes

When I first started the process of cutting this film, it was very hard to get Zak to consider leaving anything out of the cut. Eventually, if I made a good enough argument as to why the story would be stronger without something he would go with it. So you can believe the shock I felt today when he suggested cutting some major scenes from the film.

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Scared To Get His Notes

A scary thought as I date this entry, this journal is a year old.

I’m sorry I have been sucking in the journal update department. I’ve been sort of stuck lately. For a lack of a better analogy, I have gone miles upon miles with this story and I’m really close to the finish line, but it’s these last few feet that are really challenging me.

To keep pushing us towards that finish line, Zak and I brought in some fresh eyes with some fresh perspective. After much time, curiosity, and patience, Kevin has finally seen Heart Of Now.

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Editing Dramatic Improv

The hardest lesson I’ve learned while editing dramatic improv is to embrace the imperfections. Usually when editing a scripted scene you look through all of the coverage and pull the best takes with the best performances and cut them together into a tight and/or polished scene. If something isn’t working in the scripted two-shot, you can hide that by cutting to the same line in the close up and the problem is more or less solved. That is not the case when editing Heart of Now.

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Version One

A beautiful thing happened today, I finished V1. I realize that doesn’t mean picture lock, but its a huge milestone for me in this process. I have now been through every frame of the footage, and I am one step closer to taming the beast. Now all decisions will be made focusing on the story as a whole, and not on the individual scenes.

Clocking in at 2 hours and 12 minutes I proudly present to you all V1!


Halloween Anniversary

So I was cutting scene 120 yesterday. It’s the scene where Gabe and Amber stop for gas on their way to Death Valley and I was struggling with it. The scene had about five or so beats to it, and with all of the beats together, it wasn’t really working for me. So I went through all of the takes and pulled my selects of the beats that I thought were working. I still didn’t have the enthusiasm that I wanted to cut the scene. So I showed Zak the selects that I had pulled and it lead to a really good discussion.

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It’s Not Hard To Make Me Cry

I’m kicking it old school this time and hope that people still like to read. Not to worry though, there will be more video podcasts in the future.

I have exciting news! I just finished cutting the last scene in act 2, which means I have just 13 more scenes to explore in act 3 before we have a completed first pass of the film! I am ecstatic! We are so close to the end where we can finally sit back and watch the whole thing down to see where we are lagging, unclear, or most important, kicking ass.

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Editor Podcast Two

Editor JAMIE COBB nears the end of Act 2 for HEART OF NOW – a film by SABI. Features appearances by Marion Kerr, Kelly McCracken, Jason Lopez, Mary Elise Hayden, Dusty Sorg, Laura Laurent, and Alison Haislip.

music heard in this podcast is by DEKLUN.


Editor Podcast One

After a little persuasion, I convinced Jamie to sit down and discuss some recent structural changes she’s made to Heart of Now. In the following video podcast, she shares some insight into the re-arranging and elimination of certain scenes, guided by her ambition to preserve the integrity of the characters’ emotional continuity. In other words, she’s making the rest of us look good.


Leaving Great Moments on the Cutting Room Floor

Slowly but surely the cut is moving a long nicely. We now have about 58 minutes of a really solid film. I’m not saying 58 locked minutes, but the cut is in really good shape. Back in the beginning of July, I went back to scene one and started re exploring every scene I had cut so far, making sure to keep each scene real and human, and not to force anything. The results have been great (IMHO). And I am caught back up to Scene 70 where I left off to re explore the previous material.

During my re exploration there were 2 big scenes of note that I’d like to share:

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Shaking These Negative Feelings

This past Saturday we were at a festival for IFHY. Because the short uses the F-Word a few times it was paired with other “R” rated films which just happened to be the most ultra violent, misogynistic, offensive, racist, and insensitive films I have ever seen together. By the time that our film finally screened after sitting through 2 hours of this, I was left feeling really angry at what I had just experienced and even more enraged about how mis-programmed our short was.

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A List of Revelations

So when I last left the edit bay it was back in the beginning of June right before we left for the South Side film festival. I gotta say I left the cut rather unpleasantly. For that week leading up to South Side I was working on the scene where Gabe takes Amber to the ocean to location scout. It was a week that Zak didn’t have eight other projects going on, so he was kind of all up in my editing business and really pushing me. We really had it out about what our work flow process together should be and where the cut was and it was really hard on me. I’m still emotionally not really over our last talk about it and so I’ve been avoiding the edit bay like the plague.

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Against My Rule

So a job that pays the bills exploded at Sabi over the past 2 months, hence my absence for the editor’s journal. In the past 2 months I only was able to work on Heart of Now for a few hours. Those hours were great however. Zak and I went back to scene one and watched the sequence down. When something wouldn’t feel right we would stop, analyze it, and either change the cut or the shot, etc. until we were both happy to continue. I found that experience to be really great because to me it symbolized the fact that we know a little bit more about where we are going with the story and how we want it to go. Back when I cut scene one I was overwhelmed, not quite sure what I was doing, and my instructions from Zak were to fit everything that he liked into the scene (there are always a lot of great moments in the footage, but not necessarily when you put them all together). He wanted that knowing that eventually some of the things would be cut, and now we are finally to that point.

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Scene 53

Sorry the journal has been quiet for awhile. I was waiting for the day that I could start off the entry by saying, “yay! I finally conquered the beast of a scene that is scene 53.” I have been working on it for several days now and at the end of each day of going in a new direction with the scene, I would think to myself, ok great, now that that version is out of the way, tomorrow I can come in and knock it out of the park. But the next day I would come in find myself in a new direction that still wasn’t working.

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The Editor’s Job

Is it the editor’s job to protect the story or give the director what he/she wants? I believe it is the editor’s job to do both. A few days ago I cut the scene where Gabe (Kelly) gets in his car after reuniting with Amber (marion). (On a side note, it was the first scene we shot on the first day of production…oh the memories). I cut the scene the way I thought it should go (granted, it was not perfect), and Zak wanted to go another direction with it. His direction wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I left that night in frustration having cut the scene the way he wanted. The next day I came in and instead of getting frustrated again, I simply looked at the scene in a new way, still keeping Zak’s vision intact and adding an element of sound design that really adds to the scene. I hope Seivers has fun with this one. The seat belt beep in Gabe’s car now blends into the elevator dings of the following scene with Amber. It really connects the two scenes and gives them a weight, and a mirroring effect that I hadn’t seen looking at the dailies before. I know Zak had planned for a lot of shots and scenes and characters to mirror each other, but i’m not sure if this one was premeditated or an amazing result of the moment.

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Working From Scratch

Everyone wants to know how the cut is coming, so this journal will be a nice way to be informative to those who care, instead of being a broken record who says, “The cut is great. Its really coming along.”

This is a great week to start this journal too. After a month off of the project, I started cutting again last week and I finally found my groove. I think taking my focus off of Heart of Now for the first time in over 5 months, allowed me to come back clear minded and focused.

Zak and I tag teamed to make an almost 4 hour assembly before we left for death valley, so we knew exactly what we were building towards before we shot the ending. So we already know what the 4 hour version feels like…

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