Cinema Paradiso was better shorter, even if Giuseppe Tornatore sleeps better at night knowing his version was finally released last year. (I wrote about this when I saw the Director's Cut last May.)

According to David Edelstein's closing post to the Slate Movie Club (Just as they get crankin' they end the series), Harvey Weinstein--the same evil producer whose 45-minute cuts made Paradiso-- wanted to hack 20 minutes off the end of In the Bedroom. "If he were to take an ax to (the Dardenne brothers') The Sonówhich is like the last act of In the Bedroom minus the conclusive violenceóit would be about five minutes long.

After walking through the 13-minute cut of S(J03), my producer made the tough calls and gave me the spine I need to cut shots and scenes I love. For some tasty scenes, you'll just have to wait for the DVD.

Apple is certainly on my mind, if not on my head. While Jobs is off announcing the next great toy, I'm here newly switched, on deadline, and the damn Powerbook keeps freezing up and opening in recovery mode-OS9.2. How many hard powerdowns and reboots does it take to get somewhere I can change the preferences? Oh, and am I not supposed to be doing touch-ups on audio and outputting at this point instead? I'm posting this from my Thinkpad, BTW.

based on the earliest known illustration of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  DMCA THAT, Mr. Valenti...
Long story short, even if I do get done in time, I don't know if I'll be psychologically ready to go to the Apple SoHo store tomorrow night (Thursday, Dec. 9, 6:30PM) to hear directors Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton's war stories from Lost in La Mancha, their hi-larious-looking documentary about Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote (a phrase as redundant as they come), but it sure sounds like fun. [Some of you may already know my production company is called First Sally, so I know from errant adventures and self-delusion. Trivia: First Sally's logo is derived from the earliest known Quixote illustration, from a 1618 Paris edition of the novel. DMCA that, Mr Valenti...]

January 8, 2003

ugh. rough cut done

S(J03) is done. at least the first cut is. 12'30" is a little long. I watched it all the way through once, and there's definitely a minute I can trim. The rest, though, it'll be tougher. Maybe 10 minutes isn't so bad after all. Wed AM is trimming, audio levels (just for the rough cut; I've got to get it to the real sound editor before locking it) and output. There may be a Quicktime version available for a while online. If you're interested in seeing a rough cut, gimme a holler.

I gotta go to bed. Weblogs weren't even invented the last time I stayed up this late for so many nights in a row...

January 7, 2003

S(J03) Editing, Day 1.5

Day 1.5 is complete, and the first cut is about half done. Never mind that it's five minutes long, which is about what I'd imagined the finished cut to be. I got the first act laid down and that was about three minutes. With that pace set, I blocked out the rest of the film; comes to around 10 minutes (10:20 with credits).

The first cut of S(N01) was about twice as long, but with that one, the target length (15 min.) was less flexible (it was the requirement for Cannes, which I knew would show it, even though it wasn't quite done). Let's see if this one settles in around 8 min.

Here is a quick html version of the outline I blocked out on paper this afternoon.

Background image from powerpointart.com Bright Glow Tube (all images, powerpointart.com)
Slide 1 - Background:
  • Powerpoint invention and evolution (ref. Ian Parker's May 28, 2001 New Yorker article)
  • Powerpoint taking over human thought. 30 million presentations made daily. (ref. Julia Keller's Chicago Tribune article today) [via Romenesko's ObscureStore.com]
  • Career spent making/giving Powerpoint presentations (ref. "where I worked)
    Background image from powerpointart.com Hay Theme
    Slide 2 - What this will be used for:
  • As-Yet Unannounced Animated Musical (AYAUM)
  • Wrest Human Creativity From Jaws of Monopolist Technology (TBD)
  • Obligatory 3rd bullet point
    Background image from powerpointart.com WTC Memorial Wall, US Flag with Decorations
    Slide 3 - Examples:
  • RTMark
  • Powerpoint Gettysburg Address
  • Relationship: An Analysis
  • TBD
    Background image from powerpointart.com Chrome Cross w/Text Area
    Slide 4 - Action Items:
  • Collect examples of Powerpoint as Medium
  • Ask WWSD? (What Would Slate Do?)
  • Adapt spychedelic Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Oompa-Loompa text interludes into Powerpoint

  • The Surgery, Bris soap commercial, dir. by Ingmar Bergman image:bizprocessdesign.com
    The Surgery, Bris soap commercial directed by Ingmar Bergman

    See, if you stick with it long enough, recognition will come. When his commercials for Bris soap were shown in 1951, Ingmar Bergman seemed to be living the admaker's dream: "He had final cut, he had free hands, he could do whatever he wanted," says director Anders Roennqvist. Inexplicably, though, the promising young director soon vanished into ad-biz obscurity; I searched Adwik Svenska's 80-year archives using my mobile phone, but found nothing.

    Well, thanks to Mr. Rosennqvist, you can see all these forgotten classics in Bergman's Commercials Preceding the Play, a documentary which provides an "aha-feeling of why and how Ingmar Bergman made soap commercials" (and without that annoying abba-ring around the tub!) The collection is screening this weekend at London's National Film Theatre, along with a bunch of other Bergman-related junk. (At least it is according to the Guardian; I can't find it on the NFT schedule. Why don't you all stop texting for a minute and figure out what the hell's going on?)

    In addition to the aha-feeling, seeing it will "make you feel free, well and fresh," just like the Bris brand itself. (Frankly, those were not the qualities I had previously associated with bris, but then I live in New York.)

    January 5, 2003

    Editing, or Not

    Editing, here I come. I finished logging and capturing all the footage I'll use in S(J03); it seems like it'll be tough to get it down to 5-6 minutes. The last tape I captured was all the ironing (three white dress shirts' worth). As I mentioned before, the third shirt has such great, engaged shots, it almost doesn't make sense to use anything else. The result: I'm going to try two different editing "tones." For the ironing scenes, there'll be long, continuous takes, maybe with a few dissolves; the car and cleaners scenes will have quicker cuts, jump cuts, a slightly more dynamic feel. That's the plan, anyway. I start tomorrow (Sunday). ND/NF deadline is four days away.

    Russian Ark, dir. Aleksandr Sokurov, image:guardian.co.uk Russian Ark, dir. by Aleksandr Sokurov image: guardian.co.uk

    We just got home from seeing Russian Ark, the single-take epic poem of Russian history directed by Aleksandr Sokurov. It was quite stunning for a while, then normal, then stunning again at the end. The Hermitage itself is the real star. Even without the tour de force (or gimmick, depending on your cynicism) of shooting with no edits, the film's exploration of the centuries of momentous people and events witnessed by the building would be worth seeing. The insane staging (the credits list six stage managers and twenty assistants) required to pull the thing off in one 96-minute shot is just a layer of gold leaf on the film. And as the Hermitage demonstrates, everything's better with gold leaf.

    The impact and resonance of the continuous Steadicam/tracking shot seems to be changing, though. I have a theory, which I'll try to expand on later, that the emergence of first-person shooter (FPS) video games is changing the meaning of the visual vocabulary for both film and games. When I play a Vice City for an hour, it's a continuous take, visually, even if it's not as bravura as Sokurov's, Welles', or Scorsese's.

    Comparing the edits in classic movie musicals (3 or 4 per number) to, say, Moulin Rouge (120 per minute in some songs), it's clear that the meaning/significance of the long take has changed before. Technology is changing it once again.

    Some links I'd start with: Machinima.com, turning "first person shooter" into "first person cinematographer." A broad article at Polygonweb about cinema-game influences. Game Research briefly discusses point-of-view in games and film.


    greg starts editing souvenir (january 2003) image:jean
    Greg editing Souvenir (January 2003) image: Jean

    January 3, 2003

    S(J03) Update


    I'm logging and capturing footage for Souvenir (January 2003). So far, I've completed two of three tapes, for a subtotal of about 25 minutes, which takes about 10 Gigs. Oblique Strategy: Just carry on.

    January 3, 2003

    I Feel Safer Already

    Knowing that the imperialist ambitions, quest for cultural hegemony, and utterly misplaced sense of entitlement and infallibility exhibited by their leaders are not going unnoticed. Visit FranceWatch for the latest on this grave threat to world peace and stability. [via LockhartSteele.com]

    the Mole, from South Park, image:spscriptorium.com And for reports from the front lines, or from "behind enemy lines," to be exact, check out Merde in France ("Proud to be blocked by corporate firewalls across France!" Liberte, indeed.), a bilingual weblog from an ex-pat Mole (not the one at left) [via FranceWatch, bien sur]

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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