Post Production

Page 2

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The Editing Page

Picture is "Locked"

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What does Picture is "Locked" mean?

Throughout the editing process, changes are made to a film -- some big, some small, some to tighten the pacing within a scene, some to make a scene funnier and some to change the overall structure of the film.   And inevitably, some hard choices need to be made.

There are more than a few scenes that did not end up in Cherry, and some that have been moved around or reduced to less than half their original length.  At issue is basic storytelling (does the scene move the plot forward?), pace (is the audience going to start fidgeting?) and performance (were the actors cranky or sick or distracted or just not getting it?).  A director must be ruthless; just because Jon or I like a particular scene doesn't mean it's good for the movie.  In fact, several of the scenes that we omitted have great stuff in them, but you always have to keep your eye on the big picture.

So, when all those large and small decisions are finally made, the result is a locked picture -- editing is done.  But why, you ask, is "locked" in quotes?  Well, when we watched the film for the 400th time a few months ago and didn't really have any more notes, Sue turned to us with a smile and said "Great! Picture is locked."  Jon somewhat cynically replied, "No, picture is latched."

Sure enough, after staying away from the film for a week or two we watched it again and had a couple of  ideas on how to make the film better.  But, there's a fine line between improving a film and simply tweaking it to death.  We think we have successfully avoided the latter by always moving forward, never putting something back in the movie just because we miss it.  Sure, some scenes have been rejected, then eventually restored, but only when we've seen a clear reason why the scene in question leaves a hole in the story.   And more often than not, the restored scene is placed in a new context, where it works better.

You'll be pleased to know that Cherry is now "triple latched!"

- Joseph Pierson

NEXT: Music Tells a Story

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