It’s the scene that carries the weight of the movie and it has to be perfect. These are stressful scenes to take on with so much riding on them. Last week I locked one of the final scenes leading up to The Bridge and now I’m faced with the biggest editing challenge of the whole project.
The Bridge is basically a 7 page emotional conversation between 2 damaged characters. The challenge here is to keep the scene moving for the 8-9 minutes I’ll need to do it justice. 9 minutes of talking in a short film is no easy task. It has to be edited very carefully.
Editing The Big Scene
The trick going into a scene like that is to watch every take you’ve got and come up with a plan. Lines will be cut and angles will be switched often but to me, it all starts with a few key magic moments.
I’ve come to call them SuperTakes. A shot that has elements that HAVE to be in the final film. It could be a facial expression or a well delivered line of dialogue. Watching the footage led me to create a tiny sequence of SuperTakes that I absolutely adore.
The plan in this case is to build the big scene up around those moments and adjust accordingly. It’s basically like creating a rough outline for a screenplay. You write down the main beats of the film and then work hard to fill in the blanks in between.
It feels easier now that I have a rough road map.
The one issue I’m going to be faced with is time. When we shot this scene, we basically covered about 12-15 angles and had our two actors play the entire scene on each. Both had experience in theater and the more we shot, the more refined the scene became. I found working that way helped me (as director) decide how certain lines needed to be delivered.
We then went back and shot some specific moments to make sure we had the scene covered. You can imagine that some of these takes were 12-13 minutes long once you factor in pauses and such. My estimate of a final 8-9 minutes could be an easy target or it could be extremely hard to cut while still preserving the scene.
What approach would you take?
I’ve decided to cut the entire scene as is and then trim the crap out of it. It’s a daunting task when you are dealing with a huge scene full of key plot moments. I knew going in that The Bridge was going to be the most challenging scene to edit but I’m looking forward to it.
These are the scenes that every editor wants to cut. It’s too early at this point to truly know if I can pull it off without the film slowing down considerably but that’s the beauty of editing. Don’t be afraid to jump in and see what happens.
You have to try new things and keep pushing yourself until you create something you’re proud of. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters. I’m a big fan of a peaceful night’s rest after a productive day.
It’s just me, the footage and Final Cut Pro now. I’m going to be sleeping well the next few weeks.