The First Pass


I am a firm believer that the footage will tell you what you can and cannot do with it and Down and Dangerous has proved no exception to the rule. The more time I spend with this footage the better my understanding of its needs has become. On the last feature, that was largely improv-based, I found that I could really only work with and shape one take because the organic rhythms would change too much and you could see my editorial hand in it too much. But the more time I spend with this scripted material I am discovering that not only can I pull from multiple takes, but that I should.

Opening the door to more choices has been freeing yet overwhelming all at the same time. When I’ve been watching the dailies down on this film, I’ll pull the lines that immediately affect me and put them in a separate string-out so they don’t get lost in a sea of takes. I also put them in order and back to back. It can be fun to watch certain lines from different takes go head to head and battle it out.

My first pass of the scene, when I do my selects this way, is inevitably a bit of an editorial train wreck because all of my “favorite” lines often have very little emotional continuity connecting them together. After watching this first pass it is easy to step back and see what isn’t working and why. Then I can pull the pieces that work best with each other, to connect and maintain the emotional continuity, as I dive back in to the footage.

I definitely understand that we all have to start somewhere and that the process of editing is to refine and refine and dig deeper each time. But I couldn’t stop thinking if there was a way for me to speed up the process and skip this first editorial pile up of a pass. Or at the very least, lessen the gap.

And then today the most perfect and timely tweet came my way from GlenMontgomery:

And right there I had my answer, if I am more thoughtful to why I am choosing any given line from the beginning, give it more thought than it’s my “favorite” delivery, but really think about how each line serves the story and the character from the beginning, I should be able to create that organic rhythm sooner. It appears I was asking the wrong question. My selects process is strong after all, but it’s what I do with it from there that needs sharpening.

I’ve been cutting Down and Dangerous for almost a month now and I have about 35 mins of rough cut so far. Despite my use of the term “train wreck” in this post, I assure you that the movie has been shaping up nicely and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Down and Dangerous