Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"I'll never make another movie again!"

I've heard that so many times. I've said that so many times. And if I didn't say it I was thinking it. It's inevitable. Each project I've been a part of has a "why do I do this?" moment. Most of them have several. There's that old saying... something along the lines of it not being about the destination but the journey. Filmmaking... at least for me... is the total antithesis of that statement. It's the end destination that makes you forget the war you just fought and anxious to sign up for another tour of duty.

That's why I enjoy editing so much. It's where you finally see exactly what kind of film you've made and watch it all come together. It's nearly identical to the same process I go through with writing. At first it's a collection of scattered ideas and at first none of them seem to want to work together. It's impossible to reconcile between the version you initially had in your head and the reality of what's actually there. But you keep refining and experimenting and eventually you start to see something resembling that original vision peeking out around the edges. They're never exactly the same but that's what's so amazing to me. To see aspects of your own work you didn't know were buried in there is as strange as it is satisfying.

And like writing, it's a solitary experience. I may get frustrated and overwhelmed but there isn't the pressure of an entire set waiting for you to make up your mind. Production almost always feels like you're completely and savagely butchering your idea. Editing is where you get to take the pieces of the corpse, put it back together, and breathe new life into it. And quite often you discover it's better than its original incarnation.

I'm still in the earliest stages of editing "The Surprise Party". I've probably only cut together about six minutes of footage. And as I learn to navigate new software and keep my patience with the inevitable learning curve, there are parts of this that are so wonderfully familiar. I've got hours and hours of footage sitting on this hard drive. Somewhere inside it a movie is hiding.

That's so daunting. And so f*cking awesome.


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