Monday, November 23, 2009


A few days ago Tom put his entire 2.25 hour first assembly onto 3x5 cards, each scene with a number. He color coded them, green for act 1: Introductions, yellow for act 2: Understanding the issues, and blue for act 3: Resolutions. Of course it is not as simple as that. You don't introduce everything right away, and some issues will not be resolved, but it is a helpful way to give form to what we want to accomplish.

He taped the cards in sequence onto the walls of our editing room, and then gave me a stack of white cards to begin my process of rethinking some of what he has created. I put parenthesis around scenes I think we could eliminate, take some cards off the wall all together, and add cards where I think another scene belongs. I change the order, and write question marks when I can't make up my mind if a scene is right or not. Not unexpectedly, I have added more than I have taken away, but at this point that's okay. Things are feeling less chunky, more intertwined. Eventually some scenes that we love will have to go, but I console myself in the knowledge that they may reappear in the shorts we will make once the major film is completed.

Now Tom starts to re-edit. His first goal is to shorten the introduction, which felt long and confusing. Initially we had imagined many places where we would present a montage of images, followed by a well developed episode. But as we work with the material, the montages of many children doing many things, seem to be falling away in favor of longer scenes. Unfortunately that means we will not be able to show as much of a range of the activities of the year, but it felt discombobulating to pack as much in as we were doing, and didn't give time to develop anything. I am playing with how we can use shorter, more focused montages--for example of the children's portraits, to introduce certain kinds of scenes, and to emphasize themes.

I find all this so exhilarating. Maybe this just shows my age and lack of computer savy, but staring at the wall of cards, I feel the wholeness of the project for the first time.

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