Choosing projects is kind of harrowing because editing
a feature is a huge time commitment (six months to a year). I try
to take on projects with people that I like spending time with and
whom I feel can help me learn or grow. It has to be something that’s
going to stretch my boundaries as an editor and as a person.
Advice For New Directors
Make sure that you record good production audio and
don’t assume that you will be able to fix your sound problems later.
Unless you have an unlimited amount of money, you’re going to run
out in the end. You may not be able to fix it and something else
will get compromised.
I had the great pleasure of editing Atom Egoyan’s
first (and I believe only) television commercial. It turned out
to be remarkably like a 60-second Atom Egoyan film. To compress
that amount of narrative into 60 seconds while retaining the stylistic
integrity of Atom’s filmmaking was extremely challenging and strangely
A filmmaker once told me about a short film that he
submitted to the Sundance Film Festival, which they rejected. The
following year, he resubmitted and they accepted it, lauding him
for “tightening the film up.” He had done nothing more than finish
the sound and mix it. He had made no picture changes whatsoever.
Steenbeck vs. AVID
An AVID is just a Steenbeck manifested in the digital
ether. It’s only a tool, so a bad cut is still going to be bad whether
made on film or on a digitized picture. Conversely, digital audio
loaded directly from your production recordings sounds significantly
better than mag stock that you’ve cut, spliced and dragged across
the sound heads of a Steenbeck for months on end. The soundtracks
of many low-budget films have improved far more thanks to the AVID
than the actual picture edits have.
Digital Video Technology and Creative Freedom
Last summer I got up early one morning and shot the
destruction of Brooklyn’s Maspeth Towers with my DV camera. By 9:30
a.m., I had written and recorded a narrative about the experience
and edited together a four-minute short film on my AVID. I brought
a tape of it to a dinner party that night and showed it to a small
group, which included the director of the Nantucket Film Festival.
He wanted it for the festival on the spot. I like owning the means
of production, being able to create whatever images, sounds and
films I want, when I want. Creative freedom at last.