Sunday, August 29, 2010

Care and Feeding of a Filmmaker

Picture Lock.

That phrase conjures up action, doesn't it? Makes you think there's something dynamic about this momentous step in the filmmaking process. You'd imagine there'd be some fan fare around it. Some distinctive noise of some kind. If not vuvuzuelas (or however you spell them), then maybe the impressive noise of a big strong lead-lined door closing and combinations dialling, or even the satisfying sound of tumblers and keys clicking tightly, firmly, into place.

Either way, there must be some significant sound and sense of closure involved in something called a Picture Lock. Right?

Wrong. I've found it's quite the opposite. Quite a quiet, passive experience in fact. Because instead of DOING something, you essentially just STOP DOING it. The pressure's on, time runs out and you just stop editing. And walk away.

And then you live with the fact that you have to live with every frame of the film that way, the way you left it, for time immemorial.

Oh, there's the noise.

Sounds like, .... finality. (with apologies to Duvall and Coppola)

Finality. That's a hard noise to get out of your head. Especially when your head's a bit of a hamster cage like mine can be. So, to drown out the noise, I've just carried on editing for the past week - in my dreams.

The same thing happened when we wrapped shooting actually. My subconscious started hounding me with the imperative to shoot whatever it was I was dreaming. For literally weeks after wrap, I'd be in the middle of some nonsensical nocturnal narrative and be suddenly struck by the urgency to shoot it for the film. But, how could I when my film takes place in the 70's and my dream was all contemporary? Anxiety usually ensued and I'd start rushing around trying to find a way to change the decor in my dream to match the period of my film.

Same kind of deal with the end of editing.

Now that we've begun the sound effects and music composition process, though, things should change. Like the wood shavings on the bottom of the cage. And maybe the water. I'm going to need fresh water for sure.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This Just In...

Dateline : Montreal, August 21, 2010

At 2:43 am, PICTURE LOCK was officially proclaimed (we know it was official because champagne was uncorked) on The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom movie. While neither Jeff nor Tara could be reached for comment, insiders do say the team looked bedraggled but happy in the aftermath.

So now what's next for this little film that could?

The sound of music. And the music of sound.

Play on!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Playoffs

We're heading into the finals! I know this not because our post-production calendar says so, not even because the film is getting tighter and better every day, but because my editor, Jeff Bergeron has stopped shaving entirely. Yes, sports fans, he's growing a full-on playoff beard! Et ça sent la coupe!

You've heard me speak highly of him. You've seen his name in this very blog. But you've never seen the man himself. The man who has laboured from morning to night in semi-obscurity from the beginning of this most sunny of summers to almost its end. Fuelled exclusively by coffee, cigarettes, banana milkshakes and a Guru or two, Jean-François (a.k.a. J-F, Jeff) Bergeron has forsaken a healthy skin tone to make magic for our film.

Because his painstaking efforts are so successful though, you won't even notice all his hard work when you watch the film! That's the Catch-22 of great editing: to be good, it must be invisible to the naked eye.

So, while his great work must necessarily stay hidden - his lair, his hair and his playoff beard shall not!

And, oh, ET Canada, in case you're reading this - the stories about J-F and the magpie having anything other than a strictly professional relationship are filthy rumours! The man just REALLY loves his work!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Despite all evidence to the contrary, I have NOT abandoned the blog! I have just been M.I.E.

Mired In Editing.

It's an all-engrossing occupation, this cutting together of the film. In reality, it's the final re-write. The last chance to make it all make sense - the last chance to make it all really mean something.

As an editor by training and a director by tenacity, I can now fully endorse the opinion of Orson Welles who said: "For my style of cinema, editing is not simply one aspect, it is the aspect....The only time one is able to exercise control over the film is in the editing. The images themselves are not sufficient. They're very important, but they're only images. What's essential is the duration of each image and that which follows each image: the whole eloquence of cinema is that it's achieved in the editing room."

If anyone can talk about eloquence in film, Mr. Welles, it's surely you.

I would take his point further though and say that in most auteur-style films, there are many "authors" who could legitimately co-sign the finished film - the writer, the director, of course. But also the producer, the cinematographer and the editor. Although filmmaking is a fully collaborative creative pursuit and every single person involved along the way contributes something essential to "birthing the film", these particular people actually influence and shape the film's very DNA.

In our case, the "first assembly" of the film was more or less a literal translation of the shooting script on screen and it all "worked"! (much to my joyful relief) It worked on a very basic level, because the script worked. It was as easy to watch as the script was to read. But then began the very delicate, very labour-intensive and very necessary process of turning that visual rendering of the script into a living, breathing, fully fledged film.

And that's wherein I've been mired these past weeks. My talented cutter, J-F Bergeron and I have been sculpting the material, layer by layer, character by character, emotion by emotion, frame by frame - to make the final film as eloquent and as meaningful as possible.

We owe that much to everyone who helped create "her"!