January 11, 2007


The Class This Week


Assignment for Next Week

Additional Material

In previous editing classes at USC you've had the opportunity to work on shorter form projects. This week, we begin our journey to more expanded editorial horizons.

Chris Bowers (Spooner), David Harbour (David), and David Alan Basche (Steven) rehearse with writer/director Bruce Leddy on the set of the independent feature film Shut Up and Sing.

After some introductions and housekeeping, we are going to be starting on our main project for the semester -- the re-editing of the film SHUT UP AND SING. This film, written and directed by Bruce Leddy, and edited by Bill DeRonde. The film is currently in postproduction, with a picture lock imminent and sound and music to come with a hoped-for distribution this year.

The film is described on IMDB in the following way (this is the beginning, by the way, of a logline of sorts):

A group of guys who sang together in a college a cappella group reunite 15 years later to perform at a friend's wedding and discover how their lives have progressed -- and in some cases regressed -- since their college heyday. spirals out of control.

While this is much scantier than we typically do in our own loglines it is, once again, a start into what the producers (at least) think the finished film is. We know immediately that this is an ensemble piece (Bruce, himself, describes it as a cross between THE BIG CHILL and SIDEWAYS) and that music will be a central point of the film. It does not give a sense of who the main character/s would be and it doesn't really speak to the tone of the film. It will be our job to dig deeper into the script and, with the filmmakers' help, figure out just what this movie wants to be. We will then, as a class, edit the film to bring out those meanings.

Bruce has given us a complete set of the film's dailies and, in partnership with them, is encouraging us to bring our own analyses of the film and find different ways to edit the movie. Next week we will have Bruce come to class to talk about the film and to answer your questions prior to your editing.

Our main task for this evening, will be to begin a discussion that will allow us to edit the film. One of the major parts of the editing process, as we've discussed in the Intermediate Editing classes and reiterated this evening, is the thought process that occurs before the editing begins. What type of film are we cutting? What is important to the storytelling and the filmmaking? What is its style? In my Intermediate Editing class, we use the technique of creating a two sentence logline to get at the core of these questions. Though we are going to work in a more sophisticated manner in this class, this logline concept will be at the core of what we will be doing over the next fifteen weeks.

At the end of the semester, after we've finished our own cut of the film, we will watch the actual cut that Bruce's editor and he have put together to see the comparisons and, with luck, bring Bruce back again to compare the choices. In the meantime I hope to have a number of the creative partners who are making the film come to speak to us -- the editor, the composer and music supervisors, CGI people, etc.). But in the meantime, it is our job to read the script for next week several times and take notes. What is at the core of the script (this is what we are hoping to get from the logline)? Who are the characters that best push that idea? What are the potential problems that you see? What are the scripts strengths? What is the tone of the film?

Then the hard part begins -- looking at the footage and seeing what we can do to bring out the script's inner life. In order to do that, of course, we'll need to discover its inner life -- by reading the script and thinking hard about it.

Congratulations. It's going to be a great semester.

Syllabus (PDF file)
This course is still in development and, with any luck, will ALWAYS be in development. But, that notwithstanding (to use a lawyer term), here is a link to the syllabus as we know it. The online version is available here.
Lined Script for SHUT UP AND SING
This is the script that the script supervisor created on the set, detailing all of the shots made during the course of the production. Because of copyright considerations (as well as how damned long it is) this will only be available as a handout in class. The quality of the notes is varied and there are times when the director himself had to do some of the notes. This resulted in a less than perfect lined script. Still, you'll have to figure out how to make do with this. On another note, if you'd like to see a copy of the original shooting script, before the script supervisor lined it, you can click here.
Questionnaire (this is another PDF file)
Filling out this questionnaire for next week will give me a better idea of who you are and what we should be aiming for in the class.

Read the script for SHUT UP AND SING
When you read the lined script, ask yourself a number of questions about what the film is about.
Think of a logline for the script
We've discussed what this is tonight. Those of you who have taken CTPR 535 (Intermediate Editing) with me will have already learned what this is. For those of you who haven't, I'll explain. I'm going to expand on that concept a little for this class. A logline is a three or four sentence description of what the movie is about -- it leads us to determine what is important about the film and what we, as editors, need to keep track of during the editing of the film.
Begin to determine a style and cutting plan for SHUT UP
Because there will be twelve of us editing one film, it will be crucial that we determine in advance what sort of style the film will take, and what the logline we will be addressing in the flow of film will be. Next week we will begin editing our scenes, so we will need to arrive at a consensus for our cutting style. The throughline for the film is full of possibilties that we need to think about.
Complete the Questionnaire
Fill out the questionnaire that I handed out tonight. If you need another copy of it, click on the link in the Handouts section above.

The National Coaltion Against Censorship
As artists/filmmakers we should be aware that there is a long, complex dance that is done between the artist and the society which views, listens to, and/or pays for the works that we all create. The NCAC has a great website which documents all forms of censorship. This link takes you to the first page of their censorship timeline -- in 1989. To get to the home page the whole site, click here.