31/12/15 16:39 Filed in: Post Production
Boom, there it is. Our assembly of everything we shot. After the endless debacles since we wrapped I never thought I’d get to this point, but here it is. 2 hours and 21 minutes of the movie.
Six months late.
Six months late.
To sum up: I started editing in May, 2015, about two weeks after we wrapped principal photography, and finished the assembly, just under the wire, on December 30th. What should’ve taken a month ended up stretching to seven.
In the words of Gordon Ramsay, "Fuck me."
But considering every horseman of the apocalypse has stampeded over this show for the last couple of months it’s a Christmas Miracle we made it this far. After the endless curve balls and technical setbacks that left me with an infinity of excuseplainations that just made me sound crazy and look like a complete jackoff to everyone I knew. After all the time lost on stupid trailer jobs where I didn’t do anything for weeks (again!) except sit in a room and waaaaaaaaait.
I’d almost given up.
There were days I wanted to.
But raise the roof, here it is. Staring back at me on New Year’s Eve. So much for watching it this year. But I’ll count my blessing that we can watch it within a year. So I threw it into an overnight render for an h264 viewing copy and waited for the kids to be out of the house (Seriously, the last thing I want to hear coming out of my eleven-year olds mouth is, "Dad, what's a dental dam?") and Erika and I watched it on January 2, 2016.
If I’d had a stress ball in hand I’m pretty sure by the time I hit ‘play’ I would’ve crushed it into a diamond (Note to self: Look into that, might be able to recoup budget sooner). As we sat watching the film unfold, I kept waiting for trapdoor to snap open underneath and disappear into licking flames of amateur filmmaking. But a funny thing happened: The longer we watched the more it became apparent that, well, it worked. It wasn’t a disaster. In fact, every now and then it was entertaining.
There was no trap door.
Don’t get me wrong—it's too fucking long. But then, every first cut of every movie is too long. It's the nature of the beast, the result of translating one medium (writing) to another (film). It’s long and clunky and needs forty minutes taken out of it, but it played. And it did have its charms. And there were two scenes that were genuinely emotional. There WAS a movie in there and there WERE characters. The film really sang when the two leads were together, and dragged in the B-story where plot machinations started to overshadow them. That’s addressable. The biggest concern is the sagging third act, lifeless as a helium balloon the next morning. The unfocused, overlong pod of act 2B (Yes, there is such a thing) sucked all the life out of the picture and it never recovered until almost the end. It’s all fixable, but it’ll be a lot of work and a lot of experimentation to discover the right balance of information and tone going into the third act. Now we have the same job every movie has: Cut out the bad stuff and get the good stuff earlier and closer together. Now that we’re past our technical setbacks (I haven’t had an issue in two months now) I’m rarin' to Get To It. For the first time in months I feel this fire inside me again: I can do this.
“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
I’d like to scream into the sky. I’d like to cry. Instead, I’m a little light headed. All the weight of a potential disaster that we wouldn’t be able to recover from is off my shoulders. I am born again. I walked on air the rest of the day, desiring nothing more than to lose myself in a stiff drink. I realized that I’d dodged the week-long, soul humbling depression that every director I’ve ever cut for suffered after they saw their first assembly. Not because the movie is perfect, far from it. Because I suddenly recognized that I’d been suffering that depression for months now while editing this mess. Seeing the movie all strung together was validation It Was Worth It.
We have a movie.
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