IN OR OUT?
I showed some footage of my short film, The Climb to my producing partner Eric the other day. The plan was simple. I was going to show him the new sequences I just locked and then go over the entire film scene by scene. What I failed to mention to him was a fairly major change I’ve been thinking about.
Cutting one of the opening scenes completely…
It was interesting to watch that 2 minute scene play out. Could I lose it entirely? Will the film be better or worse?
When the footage was over, Eric made a suggestion. He wondered what it would be like if we lost the exact scene I was thinking about cutting. (We work well together for a reason.) We discussed the changes in depth. The issue at hand is whether or not I can get rid of a scene that I love and whether the story will survive without it. Every director must face these decisions but it’s tougher when you’re the editor as well.
- The director in me is attached to the scene.
- The editor in me knows it will make the film tighter and potentially better.
It’s a tug of war I’ve been dealing with ever since. Truthfully, I haven’t even taken the scene out yet. I made the excuse to leave it in until the whole film is locked. Then I’ll step back and evaluate the film’s pacing and whether or not I’ve told a good story.
Letting go of a scene is hard. There are always moments in a film you can’t bare to lose but I think you HAVE to make those tough decisions. In the end, it’s all about crafting something you can be proud of but also a film that will entertain other people as well. I’ve definitely taken my time editing this film but I’m in no hurry. The Climb is an exercise. How many different ways can I cut a scene? What if I lost this line of dialogue? Would this moment work better earlier in the film? Can I cut out this scene entirely?
In a way, editing The Climb has made me a better screenwriter. It’s interesting to see the impact one passion in my life has on another.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I see this particular scene making the final cut. No matter how much I enjoy it. A short film is meant to get in, tell you a story and get out. The scene I want to lose delays that right now. It slows down the beginning of the film. So, for now, I have 4 options.
- Leave it in.
- Move it somewhere else.
- Re-Edit with a different approach.
- Cut it out.
I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do but the process is inspiring. The Climb has been a wonderful opportunity to grow as an editor and a filmmaker. That’s exactly the kind of project I wanted it to be.