The Indestructibles Film Journal #10: Editing

So we finished shooting, and it was finally time to edit The Indestructibles film. Seeing as The Indestructibles is a no-budget, underground SF film, done in the spirit of our modern times with a digital camera available at one’s home, the editing is done in the editor’s apartment, on her computer.

Off to her apartment I cavorted, all the movie’s takes and shots stored in a portable hard drive in my bag. A minute after I enter the apartment, I meet the roommate.

“Gary,” he says, offering his hand.

“Guy,” I reply, shaking his hand.

“Ha ha,” he says as he starts walking away, to allow us to work, “both our names begin with a G.”

And even as he disappears into his room, I shout after him quite loudly, “Yours is longer than mine!”

What can I say? My new year’s resolutions for last year seems to have been to seriously increase the number of dick jokes in my life. One of the great advantages for a writer and director in the theater over a scriptwriter and a film director, is that you’ve got daily audience feedback. Every time your show is on, you feel the audience, you know when you’ve lost them, when they’re starting to move in their seats or cough – and you also know when you’ve got them, by seeing them sitting rapt, swallowing every second with wide-open eyes. In the theater, you can change things from day to day, experiment, see what happens, then change again. There is nothing that keeps you more in tune with your audience than this.

The film director, meanwhile, gets to guess and try and is then stuck with his result for eternity. The sense of ‘feeling the audience’ and fine-tuning your work as a results, is existent, but far less developed, as a general rule.

When I sat down with Oran Yekutiel, our talented editor, I had a theater experience. (Our small production, by the way, has a suspiciously high concentration of people called ‘Oran’, which is a name I’ve personally never heard of until last year. One is a woman and the other a man, so I’m not sure what to make of that. Our other Oran is Oran Almog – you may recall he’s the one who designed the film’s poster.)

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles Poster – Designed by Oran Almog

Since we have very limited time, because everyone has a day job, I came to the editor after having screened all the shots and after having chosen the best of them. Since the film is supposedly created out of eight one-shots, it was quite easy for Oran to transfer the shots I’ve prepared to the editing program and to actually watch, even in the first session, a rough cut of the movie from beginning to end.

And that was when I saw an audience’s reaction to the film. The talented editor, whose job it was to look at the film in an objective manner, could not tear her eyes away from the screen. Whenever a scene ended, she wanted to immediately load the next one to see what happened. She sat rapt and would not budge and would not talk about editing, until she saw the entire film from beginning to end. And that was how I knew the film worked. It pulled her out of herself and into the story so completely that I knew the film was more powerful than I had hoped.

Then, once she saw the film all the way through, she promptly began to punch it up and improve various aspects of it. But the story of how an editor can improve a story that’s built out of one-shots is a story for a future post.

For now all I can tell you is that this low budget movie should not work. But it does. It’s going to hit you in the gut, and it’s going to take you on a trip to a place far far away. And it’s going to do it in 8 one-shots, with only two actresses for 95% of the film, one of which does not speak, all in one location during that time, and no special effects. You’re going to be seeing something new.

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