Current Film and TV


  • Strad Syle (Feature Documentary)
  • River Dogs (reality)

In Development

Chop Cut

  • An editing and post facility run by yours truly.

DIY GUY's other life
Hobbies and interests besides making movies.



The First Round

After the first round of filming was complete, I knew that I had about half of the movie shot. I anxiously waited for the film to come back from the lab and after spending five hours with a projector in my darkened room, excitedly looked forward to cutting.

I wanted to save as much money as possible, in every which way possible -- so I rented a pair of rewinds, a gang synchronizer with sound head, a moviscop viewer and a splicing block. Then, I had the sound transferred to mag and I started synching the dailies. This is something that you can have done, but as I had been doing it for years I thought it foolish to spend money on. After twelv thousand feet of film was synched (something that took me about four days of solid work) I wrote the edge numbers on the mag (the audio portion) and returned the gangs, viewer and rewinds. Then I rented a flatbed.

The Flatbed

Flatbeds are a wondrous, primitive, big, heavy machine... they make plenty of noise when you turn them on and make plenty of heat when you leave them on.

I drove to New York to rent the Flatbed in my dad's pickup truck. I didn't have a van and wasn't about to rent one if I could avoid it. In New York, I went through the finances and then the loading of the Flatbed. It was an eight plate Steenbeck, basically the largest flatbed around, and it took three of us to get on the truck. It was a sunny day which was good because they wouldn't have allowed it on an open pickup truck otherwise. As it was, they got a laugh out of the fact that this was how I was moving it. Good sports, those guys.

Once back in Pa, the unloading of the flatbed and the moving of it to my room was another story. My house is located on a cliff. This means that things are essentially in reverse. The second floor is below the first floor etc. My room is on the second floor -- and there was no way the flatbed was going to go down the staircase leading to the second floor -- so we (Joe, Jack and myself) pushed it around the house, down stone steps and in through another exit.

I wondered what the New York guys would say if they saw this now... they probably wouldn't have been as good natured. Getting it in through door ways was an amazingly difficult thing. It is my belief that the Germans, having lost so many filmmakers to the Americans during the thirties and forties, and then having lost a war, were determined to get revenge in some way. Steenbecks are designed so that no matter what angle, be it sideways, forwards, flipped on one side, etc. -- they will not go through a standard doorway easily. Furthermore, they are designed so that they are not easy to disassemble. Gears, Pulleys, motors, banks of relays... fill them up... legs and and all..

Eventually, after dissassembling every piece possible, we did get it into my room, where, for the next month, it prevented any movement of great extent. Who needs closets or more than seven inches with which to slide by to get to the bed? As a matter of fact, who really needs the whole bed thing? A mattress was enough... I threw away most of my bed and put the mattress on the floor -- something that I have since come to prefer more than a regular box spring thing.

Editing begins.

As I have said before, editing is a time when I am very happy. And this was the happiest I ever was. I knew that I had to work around the clock because of the cost of the system. Though cheap, it was still money that could be spent elsewhere... a couple roles of film. And so I edited... eight- ten- twelve hours a day... weekdays...weeknights weekends... I would work till I couldn't see straight, then fall into bed (mattress on floor), wake up whenever... 3:00 am... 10:00 am... nothing set... eat and then continue editing.

People say to you, "God, you are working so hard. You should take a break...a vacation". What they couldn't understand, unless they had been there was -- this was heaven. The only thing that was not so enjoyable about the process was the fact that we had a tremendous heat wave and that I had no air conditioning. The addition of the heat released by the flatbed monster would send the thermometer in my room soaring to the 95 degree mark regularly, even at 3:00 am. There were several days where it broke 100. And that's a humid Pennsylvania 100 degrees.

Slowly, the scenes took shape; some I was happy with, others not so much. The month went by quickly and as it neared the end, so did my editing. It timed out fairly well, maybe because I knew that one month was all I had allowed myself for editing.

I had been cutting film for at least six years before starting on, The Game; the technical aspect of editing was something I could do in my sleep. I had cut many, many dialogue scenes in the past, so the rhythmic aspects of editing were something I was well versed in. On The Game, what I discovered, generally in the early hours of a sleep deprived morning. was a subtle, sophisticated (and esoteric) thought process to editing. I don't know if it had any impact on the final cut and I don't know if the film was put together differently in any way, but it did make me ponder editing on a deeper level:
Example: you cut from one person to another -- cut to a reaction, let's say -- I started asking myself, "Who's scene is this?" This might sound like a basic question, but, watch a typical scene in a movie. Who does the scene "belong" to? I don't mean one actor obviously, "out acting" another -- but... even in, for example, a speech or monolouge; it might be easy to say that the scene belongs to the person doing the talking - giving the speech or monloging. But perhaps not. It may belong to the audience as a whole, or a person in the audience. And this doesn't mean excessove cutaways to that person or to that audience. It could -- but not necessarily. It gave depth to the thought process of editing that typical speedy editing doesn't permit. When you have to cut a television show together, you don't have the time to think like this. It is much more mechanical. Cut- beat, beat-beat, cut... dialogue--- response beat cut... etc. Anyway, whether this thought process changed the final cut from the more perfunctory- "cut now" edit session, I don't know... but it made me think.

So, the flatbed went back to New York at the end of the month and I, with a video tape in hand, went in search of more money. I returned to work from an extended leave of absence and tried to save as much money as possible -- all the while pining away for the life of a filmmaker who actually makes his living making movies.