This Thanksgiving week it's only fitting that we talk about a category that highlights and allows us to give thanks to one of the best friends a director and producer can have when working on an indie production: the editor.
In our case, that editor is Matthew Smith... the guy whose job over 9 episodes of C&E and multiple other projects has been to help us look good, while occasionally saving us from our worst impulses.
Our pick to submit for "Best Editing" and the reasons why after the jump.
The Category: “Best Editing”
The Pick: “Episode 9, Love conquers all, bitch.”
See it here: www.cupidanderos.com
ANDY: Editing is often referred to as the “invisible art” of a film because at this stage in the filmmaking process, all the pieces from the production puzzle are put together to form the final print. As a painter uses his brush to create the hair of its subject, the editor arranges the shots to form the thread of the director’s vision and bring all of the arcs of the story together. Anyone who has done film or video editing knows that one change in a shots length, position, or cutaways can alter the feel of the story. Like many aspects of the production process, we know when editing is bad but when it’s good, it is seamless.
In working with our editor, Matthew Smith, I saw an expert eye in knowing when to cut away to a reaction shot, when to end a shot and begin the next without breaking the emotion and when dialogue could be cut without effecting the arc. Take episode 4, when Cupid enters the apartment to find Eros after an active night with the mortals. This scene needed to open a little menacing, driving a slower editing pace that gave the viewer time to wonder what happened to cause the mess. Once we know that Eros’ fun evening was behind the dishevel, the pacing and feel changes to a serious tone as the story moves to a discussion between the two gods.
In deciding the episode for this category, I thought about which one had the biggest change in timing and emotions. I immediately thought of the fight scenes between Cupid and Achilles, Eros and Neikea, Achilles and Athena, and the whole bar crowd - the touching scenes between Cupid and Eros, those that let the audience see the love between them and then which episode intercuts intimate shots with larger action shots – episode 9.
Of course knowing the raw footage that Matthew had to work with, episode 9 posed an additional challenge because the fight scene was shot in pieces for safety and production efficiency. Using cutaways, Matthew did a wonderful job of making the fights between Cupid, Achilles and Athena AND Eros and Neikea seem continuous.
So as you can see, episode 9 was a quick decision in this category for me. From the tension Matthew created in the beginning with the faster cuts to a calm with Cupid, Eros, and Achilles sitting at the bar. Then the episode moves to feeling of contentment and a moment of deep friendship between Cupid and Eros. Of course the ending of this episode may change all that in the future.
AVI: I've known Matt since shortly after I moved to L.A. We met at the end of 2006 not as a director and an editor, but as two guys looking to start a new band after our old projects had ended. It was almost three years before Matt ever edited anything I directed. To be perfectly honest, when I asked him about cutting C&E I wasn't sure he could stand to spend any more time with me than he already was. Luckily he was game.
The thing about editing is that in this day and age of relatively cheap computers and editing software it's easy for people to claim to be able to do the job. And sure, there are tons of people out there who do in fact know how to do the technical side of things. They may know Final Cut like the back of their hand, and be knowledgeable about transcoding and plug ins, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know how to help you tell the best story you can.
The great editors look at the raw footage they're handed and can instinctively understand not just what your intent was as a director, but how to make sure that intent is reached as effectively as possible. They can salvage scenes that were savaged by production constraints, and they can save you from yourself when your closeness to the material clouds your ability to see anything but what you're unhappy with.
Matt is a great Editor. I was torn between two episodes in particular that I think illustrate that. The first was our pilot. That episode sets the tone for everything that's come since and I think that Matt was a big part in making sure that we got that tone right. He helped me keep the pacing tight, the feel of the show consistent and our production shortfalls hidden. But in our season finale he did all that 10 times over.
A plot that veered from comedic to dramatic to action oriented and back again. Fight scenes. Our biggest cast of main characters. A bar that was supposed to be full of patrons, but was occasionally almost empty. This episode could have easily been a confusing mess, but Matt focused on the story we were telling, and found the best ways to tell it while eliminating anything that could distract from it. Nothing feels out of place, and nothing lasts a frame longer than it should. This episode was fraught with technical problems that occurred on set, but Matt helped me see past all of that and find the kick ass finale that we were aiming for. His contribution is especially visible I think when you look at the final fight sequence, and the way in which the energy turns on a dime from frenetic and nutty to clam without it feeling completely out of context.
I'm not the only one who thinks highly of Matt's editorial skills. He edits television for a living and has cut the last two seasons of a little web series you may have heard of called “THE GUILD”. Given that, I'm lucky he's got time to be part of the C&E team, and I truly hope his contribution gets recognized.
So there you have it folks. Most of you agreed with us on this one, but if you think we should have picked the pilot or another episode we'd love to know why. Post your thoughts in the comments below. We'll be taking Friday off to recover from our food comas and spend time with family and friends. We hop you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we'll see you back here Tuesday when we talk about our pick for "Best Cinematography"!
Avi and Andy