The quarter is over, which means that Ipseity has finished the editing stage. It has evolved so much from the moment the idea was conceived up till now. The biggest change that occurred in the editing room was the structure of the story. I never gave it a thought going into this project to use flashbacks in my story. However, once I got in the editing room it was clear I needed to use it to enhance the story. By doing so, I had more flexibility and had more opportunities to develop my characters. This decision opened my mind and gave me more creative freedom. I would try new things, and sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. One thing I tried was jump cuts. I never enjoyed seeing jump cuts in films because it just never resonated with me. That is until I saw the movie Like Crazy. I was inspired and was excited to try it out in my own way. Unfortunately, I had to throw it out because it was not effective, but I am glad I gave it a try. In regards to the story as a whole, Ipseity stayed fairly close to the original script. The biggest thing that has shifted is character development, but the same story has always been the focus.
The reason there were significant changes in the structure and character development of Ipseity were motivated by clarity. The character development of Cameron needed to be much more prevalent. I was getting feedback during critiques that Cameron was self-destructive. Because of that, I spent time trying to change her character and show her in a little more respectable light. However, the more I edited, the more I realized that quality may be something I should finesse instead of covering it up and "fixing" it. The fact that Cameron is self-destructive builds her character in a more complex way. I was able to make that clear and part of Cameron's character. Without that, the clarity of my film was lost. The more I honed in on Cameron's character, the better the story would get.
In retrospect, my film really needed a director that was doing just that. I took on a bit too much. I produced, directed and was the cinematographer. I simply did not have the help I needed. I would go back to the pre-production stage and look for a cinematographer. Originally, I would have chosen my fellow classmate, Tim Torabpour, but he was also in the production stage and shooting his own film. Although I love cinematography, I aspire to be a director and wanted to use this opportunity to practice that skill and show what I can do in my Senior Film.
I am happy with how Ipseity has turned out, but I am going to continue finessing it until I graduate. This experience taught me so much and I can't wait to use the knowledge I have now in future projects.
I received valuable feedback during the picture lock critique. The flashbacks were better received by the audience, but needs improvement through sound. I also need to push the color grading a bit to enhance the emotional charge behind Cameron's thoughts. One major part I need to fix and have been working on is the restaurant scene -specifically the transition from the beginning of the date and the latter end. As it was during the critique, it jumped around too much. The biggest part for me to work on is creating moments that allow the audience to breathe. Currently, I have cut down the film so much that there is not a lot of time for the audience to think and keep up with some parts. It was recommended that I put in more of Cameron working so the audience can see just how dedicated she is to her career, while allowing the audience to breathe.
Overall, the critique was much needed as I close in on the final cut of Ipseity. I am now putting focus on the sound and music for the film
As I near the picture lock deadline for Ipseity, I have had the opportunity to show my film to people that have not seen, or knew too much about the story. I chose to show it to my parents, who were somewhat aware of my story, and my sister and her fiance. My sister, Jenny, had only heard about my film via Skype conversations, so it was nice to get a real outside perspective on my film. It was also interesting because her fiance is Russian, so I was curious how he would perceive Ipseity.
After the film, I asked them all a series of questions in regards to characters, the relationship between characters and whether there was anything that was unclear. My sister was quick to state that she did not understand the flashbacks Cameron has on her previous relationship with Jake. It wasn't until the third flashback that she understood what was going on and she had a better understanding of Cameron. Another comment she made was that the jump cuts were too distracting for her, which I can understand. It also was unclear to her whether Cameron took the job or not, and she seemed uneasy about it. Her last comment was towards Jake's character and that she wanted to see more of him and his relationship with Cameron. She thoroughly enjoyed the final scene and the final blow to Cameron when Lukas decides to leave.
My dad agreed that the flashbacks were a little confusing at first, but he picked up on it faster than my sister. When my sister would comment on how she didn't get her and Jake's relationship, or the choices she made, my dad actually defended those comments with the correct dissection of the character. Although he had a little knowledge going into, he wasn't as informed as my fellow classmates or teachers that have seen the process from preproduction to now. My dad understood right away why Cameron hesitated about taking the job promotion. He also made a point to say that as he felt for Cameron, he also felt for Jake. That comment was satisfying because in the early drafts of the script I wrote Jake as being a flat out jerk with no other meaning to life, and my instructor at the time persuaded me to write him with an understanding that everyone has a reason for being the way they are, even if they are a jerk. So I did, and I'm glad my dad was able to see Jake's unpleasant nature, but understand enough to feel empathy for him.
Andrey, my sister's fiance, had a harder time following the film because he just moved from Russia to America and his English isn't quite fluent enough. But once my sister cleared some things up for him, he was able to comment on it. He also stated that he felt bad for Jake. He also stemmed a conversation between my family that all of the issues Cameron is having is self-inflicting, yet interesting enough of a story to be intrigued.
In previous rough cuts, the relationship between Cameron and Lukas were unclear. This was important to me to clear up and my mom felt the connection between the two were very clear, in her opinion. Everyone seemed to agree with her statement. Also, people tended to feel the story was about Lukas more in previous cuts. This time around, everyone agreed that the story was about Cameron. I am also glad to hear that everyone understood the characters and each of their inner conflicts, even though they enjoyed debating their actions.
In conclusion, the main points I will have to focus on is making the flashbacks more clear. I think I can approach this issue with color grading and with sound, which was not part of this rough cut. Also, I am going to work on bringing more of Jake in, so there can be more of a connection between Cameron and Jake to the audience. Overall, this screening was very helpful to me to get an outside perspective, especially from the people I care
This last rough cut I presented in class was a big improvement from the assembly. However, some questions are still left unanswered and because I changed the chronology of events in the film, new questions have developed. For example, viewers keep struggling with the idea of Cameron having a driver. I will continue to piece the story together well enough for it to be clear. One comment I heard during critique was such a great idea that it is going to be in my next cut. During the flashbacks, I use jump cuts to trigger the memories. However, my fellow classmate suggested overlapping dialogue and even using a shot that is pushing in on the character to suggest we are going inside her mind to get a better understanding of her and her inner conflict. In a few instances, I do like the jump cuts. After the critique, however, I think it is best to pull some of them out as it is excessive.
It was the right choice to switch the story up and use flashbacks. It helps immensely clarify relationships and the inner conflict Cameron is experiencing. I will continue to experiment a little with my story and cut together a complex film.
With the new perspective in my editing approach for Ipseity, I have taken a look at a couple more films that have inspired me and will help guide my film to where it needs to be. The first film is one that I have mentioned before, Like Crazy (2011). Editor Jonathan Alberts utilizes jump cutting magnificently in this film. The first time I saw Like Crazy I was thoroughly impressed with how Alberts used jump cuts to emphasize the tension in a scene, which typically isn't what jump cuts are used for. For example, there is a scene when Anna upsets Jacob. They spend hours questioning, apologizing and trying to resolve the situation, and the jump cuts are used to emphasize the time elapsed, which results in tension created between the characters. I am not one who typically enjoys jump cuts to begin with or have ever used the technique in my editing before, but every time I see Like Crazy, I go crazy over the jump cuts and how well Jonathan Alberts produces it.
(Above: A scene from Drake Doremus'
2011 Romantic Drama, Like Crazy.)
I have been reworking the chronology of events in Ipseity, and it has caused me to revisit Andrew Jarecki's 2010 Drama based on the most notorious unsolved murder case in New York history, All Good Things
. The film begins with David Marks, played by Ryan Gosling, testifying in a courtroom. It then cuts to where the story began and the film plays out his testimony occasionally cutting back to the courtroom throughout the film. The collaborative Editors of All Good Things, David Rosenbloom and Shelby Siegel cut the film this way to provide the audience with the experience, or feeling like a member of the jury -to hear the testimony and decide whether or not David Marks is guilty of murdering his wife in 1982. I am doing something similar with Ipseity. There will be scenes out of sequence and flashbacks of her relationship with Jake as she continues to strive at her job and develop a friendship with Lukas. This will be challenging for me because I must establish a present and past and make both relevant to each other. In doing this, I hope the audience will see the repetition Cameron falls into with her love life and how making the decision to take the job promotion means she must accept the fact that she has to let go of the past and move on with her life.
The assembly edit allowed me to piece the film together as close to the script as I first imagined it. The story has a long way to go, but it is coming along. As I continue, I need to focus on pacing the most. Although pacing was not my main focus for the assembly, the upcoming cuts will require much more refining to help character development and the story as a whole as some things seemed to have gotten lost in the assembly edit. For example, there is a lack of connection with the audience to Cameron and her inner conflict between Jake and Lukas and my job now is to make sure that this is clear as I continue to edit.
After receiving feedback from my instructor and fellow student filmmakers, I have considered playing with the idea of time while editing. I do not need to edit in a linear style, which is very different for me because I tend to favor linear styled editing. I think flipping scenes around, and playing with the story a little bit more will benefit the character development and the story, as well as pacing. Also, it came to my attention that I have two bathroom scenes with Cameron doing her hair and makeup. This could be used as a motif. There are other things in the story that I specifically use as a motif for, but I originally did not think the bathroom scenes were anything but her getting ready for the date with Jake and for work. However, there may be an opportunity here for the viewers to see deeper into Cameron's thoughts and emotions, and my new mission is to finesse these scenes to its full potential. In doing so, this also might connect the audience with her as that was missing in the assembly edit mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Overall, most of the comments during the critique were things I was already aware of. The things that were unclear I think will become clearer as I rework the editing. For example, someone wasn't sure why Cameron has a driver. However, this was explained in a conversation with her coworker and friend, Millie. I think this information was lost in the assembly edit because sound was not the best and it may have been too muffled for the audience to hear what the two were actually saying. What I took away from the critique the most was ideas of how to approach the story differently, such as non-linear editing. Going into this project I never would have thought of doing anything other than linear editing and following the script word-for-word. However, I am now opening myself up to it because I feel it is necessary for the story.
Of all the projects I have done, including the short documentary I produced in New Orleans, LA, the organizational steps and the use of metadata has skyrocketed in the editing process of Ipseity. As you can see in the following screen captures below, I have labeled each scene, and broke it down by cameras and CF Cards with a separate folder for the sound. If you are wondering why I have labeled some footage based on first and second CF Card or by cameras, it is because I have a distinct memory of what was shot on what card and camera. I have also used the Description tab to my benefit as I explained the scene, and/or declared the take good or bad based on notes provided to me by my Script Supervisor.
As I have began to piece the film together for the assembly edit, I find myself remembering which take was the best and that I tend to ignore the notes I wrote in that took me so long to write and organize. I continuously have to force myself to take a look at the other takes in each scene. Surprisingly, I have found that much of the footage of the takes I did not find redeemable during shooting is actually worth another look because some of it is better than I thought it was. Therefore, I am continuing to scour the footage of each scene, even if my notes tell me otherwise. My notes do save me time, however, and I am glad to have had a script supervisor. It definitely helps find immediately what take was good and what specific issues I had with each take if there were any.
As far as what I am doing differently in terms of my editing technique, I have to speak honestly and say that besides the previous post that described films with specific techniques that inspired me for Ipseity, there is not much I can say I am doing differently. I have not spent a whole lot of time over my career at The Art Institutes honing my skills as an editor. The main film I am proud to have edited is my short documentary film I produced about the effects Hurricane Katrina had on the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and why the community has continued to stay, hence the title Home Is Home
. Ipseity has given me another opportunity to practice and reinvent my editing skills.
As of March 18, Ipseity has wrapped on production and I am now moving on to post production where I will spend the next eleven weeks editing. All the footage is transferred, organized with metadata and ready to be assembled. The assembly edit, which is a layout of the best shots in each scene and is typically longer than the final version is to be finished April 18. The assembly edit is not a commitment -much of the cut is going to be shaved down and finessed as I near the final cut. As I begin to wrap my brain around this and piece together my film, I need to hone in on my editing techniques and the things that influence my editing style. One of those influences are from 2011's Water For Elephants.
Editor Alan Edward Bell was the editor of Water For Elephants. Bell has worked on other films such as The Green Mile, A Few Good Men and one of summer's most anticipated film The Amazing Spider-Man
. Bell achieved beautiful pacing in 2011's Water for Elephants, which is what I will strive to do. He specifically understood the character's motives and used this knowledge to hold on certain shots, and cut on other shots. His choices in the editing room as far as which shots to use and when to cut were instinctually wonderful as it complimented the acting so well and the mood of each scene.
In Quentin Tarantino's 1994 Crime Thriller Pulp Fiction, editor Sally Menke incorporated a technique called a sound bridge in a cut when Captain Koons talks to young Butch about his watch (Refer to the clip below -moment happens a little after the 1:50 mark). When he hands him the watch, the sound of a bell rings and cuts to Butch as an adult waking up from a dream. I would like to play with this idea of a sound bridge because it is effective visually and audibly. I already have an idea of where in the film I am going to give this a try, so we'll see if this will work in my film.
There was a scene in Drake Doremus' 2011 film Like Crazy that inspired me to try out in my editing. Editor Jonathan Alberts used dialogue to transition one scene into the next, which I thought was brilliant because it is such a minute detail, but it effectively enhanced the experience by allowing me to ease into the scene smoothly rather than using a technique known as a "smash cut." A smash cut is merely one scene ending abruptly and enters the next scene without transition. Although I will use the smash cut in my editing, I would like to use the dialogue to carry into the scene that follows another scene.
As far as the opening titles go, I think it is appropriate to be simple (Example: 2011 film 50/50
). I do not envision graphics being a huge part of this film. I would like the titles and any graphics to be simple and merely a crack on a wood's surface. What I mean by this is that when the film starts, I want all focus on the characters. The first scene is a very important scene for Cameron (the main character). A big shebang of a title sequence, such as the opening sequence to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2012) seen here
, or in the 2006 Romantic Comedy The Break-Up, I feel would shatter the feel and mood of the first scene that I am aiming for, and the film as a whole. This may change as I begin editing, but this is how I envisioned the film playing out in my mind as I wrote the film and when I think about it now.
The biggest challenge I am going to have during post production is using a new forum to edit in. I have chosen to edit in Adobe Premiere because it is more accessible to me than Final Cut Pro, which has been the exclusive editing program The Art Institutes International in MN teaches. The main difference between the two programs is the interface. For me, it just takes a little getting used to. Otherwise, much of Premiere seems to be comparable to Final Cut Pro. I am excited to learn Premiere and come out of AI with knowledge of how to use both Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere as editing tools.
Another challenge I am going to face while editing is separating myself from the film. This may sound strange, but all the hours on set and working closely with the actors can be an obstacle in the editing room because I may become attached to a certain shot, or unable to see the bigger picture for example. Some things that will help with this is simply a break. A break from the footage, from the story -from everything. That way, when I return to work I will be approaching the film with fresh eyes. This I was able to do over our one week break in between quarters. Also, working in a new or different environment can be effective. After working in the same work station for so long, it is easy to fall into the same editing styles. However, a new place can influence my mood and make a powerful impact on my editing. This I have also tried and will continue doing throughout the editing process, and I can already feel the difference in myself and see the difference in my editing.
I know it has been a while since I have last posted. Things started happening real fast, and production started moving right along. As of right now, half of the film has been filmed, and there are three days remaining of production. The footage is looking great, the crew has been amazing, and my actors are the best! I am excited to share this film and the process it has been for me. Once I get past the production stage, I will have much more time to update this blog so stay tuned for next quarter.
I have been able to update the Film Synopsis and the Production Stills tab, so check it out! :)
I have not finished my script just yet, but I am getting closer and closer. I am already thinking about removing a scene because it is not necessary, and there are things I need to rework in the beginning but overall it's going well. I want to have my rough draft ready for Monday to discuss with my classmates, because I'm getting excited about what I have so far. I should have my synopsis written this week sometime, and I will post it as soon as it is ready.