Screening of work in progress

Inspired by a comment by beowulf.grimbly:

As part of the film school process, we constantly have reviews of the film as we're working on the edit so that the tutors can advise when something doesn't seem to be working out, ask the right sorts of questions about how necessary certain scenes are or the ordering of the ones we have.... etc etc. But at the start it was difficult to get used to it (despite having been part of the selection process for admittance to the school - 11 people took a 5 day course at the school for the 6 places). Screenings, no matter how late in the edit, were inevitably accompanied by some form of disclaimer on how there hadn't been time to do one bit, how it wasn't yet close to what we were actually going for because we hadn't had time to physically and/ or technically achieve that, or how it wasn't quite along the right lines corresponding to the director's vision once we started learning to work with directors and needed our own time to find the film....

But for the most part we've learnt to get past that now. Whether it's the self-confidence that we know that it's not the final edit and will hopefully be able to persuade anyone who asks of that fact now that we've had a bit of experience, or that we've grown used to the process, or just that it's too valuable whilst at Film School to not get every ounce of opinion that you can on your film (even if the suggestions profferred aren't ultimately taken up and a different solution is tried), it's something that I hadn't really noticed until working with the composer on the short I've been cutting for the last 3 weeks. Until now they've been used to working primarily with picture locks, but we really wanted to see how much some original music could set the tone and move the film on a bit so we brought it in fairly early in the edit. And all of the old discussions about screening rough cuts came back to me. Back when we used to work on the same rushes for exercises, and had screenings every few days so that we could see what everyone else was doing with the same material. And funnily enough, though we may have 'borrowed' ideas from another cut we still never ended up with even two films vaguely alike. Seeing the different stories you could tell by choosing different shots at different moments was possibly one of the most pivotal moments of my first term at Film School, and if I'd been hiding behind my seat from the shame of having to show my unfinished work to other people I think I'd have missed a lot. And I suppose that that would always hold true whilst you still consider yourself to be learning a craft - i.e. for as long as you continue to do it.

What I guess I've really learnt out of the experience is how to make the most of the early days - to make a proper rough representation of how a film will be, with the majority appropriate shots in the right place. Early edits can be fairly demoralising when cuts don't seem to flow or characters aren't really coming alive. But finding the bits which aren't working can really help on the way to getting a respectable cut, especially when you get that first onscreen insight into what makes your character tick. And if it's all been a struggle and things still aren't working, an outside perspective on the world you think you've been trying to create can really help to just plant a new idea in there. Just for now, I'm trying not to discount anything which may ultimately be of benefit to the film, and the comments made always help to remind me what I should be looking out for as an editor.