Moving Closer to a Finished Film

Me (left) with my editor, Matt Epstein, on location at the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT on Day 2 of production on "Isn't It Romantic?"

Me (left) with my editor, Matt Epstein, on location at the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT on Day 2 of production on “Isn’t It Romantic?”

As I reported in my previous post, the rough cut I put together looked pretty good.  There were a few issues which I was confident I could work out with my editor.  I met with him today and we discussed his  rough cut, which is about 75% finished.  He told me that the early scenes are working well.  That is even better news for the film, as he has twenty years experience, so if he says it works, I can bet on that.

There are two main issues we have to deal with, but we’ve got ideas on how to do so.  First, there is a transition from the set up of the story into the middle section, what in a feature length script would be the break from Act I to Act II.  With the footage I shot, it is not clear to the audience what my protagonist is doing.  Danny comes up with a plan but with the way I shot it, there is no inkling of what that plan is, or that he even has one.  I proposed adding a voice over.  My editor took that idea and expanded on it.

Voice overs are commonly used to patch plot holes in movies in exactly this situation.  It can be a very weak device if not used creatively.  My editor proposed that we add a voice over, not only to the scene that’s unclear, but also at the beginning and end of the story.  Just some brief lines to open the story and then wrap it up.  I love  this idea.  By doing so, we integrate the technique as a part of the film and establish it early.  In that way, the audience will accept it as a method organic to the movie’s style.  I also have to admit that I like it because it’s a device Woody Allen commonly utilizes.  When done well, it’s very effective.

The other issue we have is in the movie’s longest scene.  It’s extremely important to the plot and it involves a passage of several hours.  In the rough cut that I put together, I tried using dissolves between sections of the scene to indicate time passing.  I wasn’t really all that happy with the result.  Dissolves are very outdated and I didn’t get a feeling of hours having elapsed.  The pacing of the scene was much too fast.  My editor has some ideas and is going to experiment by putting the scene together in different ways.  I have great confidence in his ability and I am sure we will come up with a suitable solution.

So, there we are.  We’re getting much closer to a finished film, I would say early January, in time to make the deadline for the “Love Actually Film Festival”, which takes place in the city of my birth, New York, and showcases short films that deal with love, sex and romance.  I think we just might have what they’re looking for.  It takes place on Valentine’s Day, which means that if we get in, I will finally have something to do on that holiday other than celebrate the fact that February is half over!


One thought on “Moving Closer to a Finished Film

  1. Hi Paul!

    It really sounds like it’s coming along nicely. I personally don’t think voiceovers are overdone, particularly at the begining and the end of the film. They used them in Dark Shaddows, my latest craze, and it’s absolutely critical (I was a big fan of the TV show, and it’s just my kind of movie. I wish I could write them). It’s really hard to set up a movie without it. And in Chasing Mavericks, the story about Jay Moriarty, it sums up the whole feeling behind why they surf the big, dangerous waves. Many reviewers missed this and didn’t get the story as a result. Gammer, on the other hand, was a disaster without any voiceover because it took 45 minutes just to figure out what was going on.l So I’m sure it will work fine in your film.

    Did you ever see a movie called “A Perfect World”, with Kevin Costner and directed by Clint Eastwood? I’m considering changing a screenplay to mimic the opening scene, where it shows bits and pieces of a disaster so that you don’t expect a happy ending, but doesn’t give the story away. I can’t think of another movie like it, so I’m hesitant. Do you think it worked?

    You know, St. Valantine is actually the patron saint of friendship. When he signed letters “From your Valentine”, he was writing to friends. Despite what modern America thinks, there’s no reason to need to be passionately in love with the people you eat dinner with that night. And you can always celebrate February 15, which my friend used to call “The Day that all of the Chocolate Goes on Sale”. 🙂

    Happy holidays, Jennifer ”

    On Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM, paulrothbart

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