Well, I will post something. I am very tired, but I owe you something…LOYAL READERS! TRUE BELIEVERS! (Quoting Stan Lee).
Let me talk a little about what I have been doing. I have been editing. Well, that is a TAD obvious. But if you have been following me on Twitter (they show up on the right of the blog) you will note that I am editing without a script. Well, a COUPLE of times I was handed a script and assigned to edit an act for another show (the show I am on is a three part special), but when it comes to MY show, I’ve got nothing. We have two producers and two shows ahead of mine in the production, so they are getting priority.
So…what do I do in this case? I started by just looking at all the footage I had…like a good editor. But then that was done and I needed to do SOMETHING. So I listened to the interviews in their entirety and started pulling selects. We have no transcripts so this makes this interesting. Instead of re-arranging the words on the page, I do it on the timeline. I am taking the interview selects and arranging them to tell a story…doing what we call an “assemble edit.” This is what one normally does on feature docs when you have more time, and little cash. Or on any show where you have a small budget.
Normally, as the other editor is doing (we have 4 editors, one per show and one floater who fills in the gaps) we will just throw these interviews into some assemblence of a story, and then throw footage that might fit the story. But I have gone a little beyond the call and edited three segments as self contained acts, complete with music, with ONLY the interviews. We will have VO, but it will be sparse. This was fun for the first three segments, but very time consuming. So I have resorted to doing what the other guy is doing…arranging the interview bytes to tell a story, trying to fill it out with b-roll (footage) and then outputting for the producer to see. So that he can get a rough idea of the footage and the story that we have. He will then write a script and we take it from there, using the rough footage we dropped into the assembly, and then delving more into the other stuff.
OK…that is what I am up to. It is very time consuming, but I REALLY know the footage well, and the interviews well. VERY different from the last show I worked on, where I was handed a script and then had to edit without even being able to look at all the footage I had. Just scanned quickly and threw what I could. Not fun.
Falling asleep. Time to go.
EDIT: The following text is in response to a comment, but I figured not too many people read the comments and this is a fairly important point, so I put it here for all to see. And it bears a full blog post in the future, for sure.
Producers TYPICALLY will review all of the footage, get transcripts of the interviews, and then write based on the interviews and information they have. They will incorporate interview bytes, and might do narration to sum up other parts of the interviews. And further narration to explain stuff they have found in their research. And they might include in this script image and b-roll suggestions based on the footage they have viewed. They might even have a process in mind so the suggestion is a firm one. But they generally leave it up to me to find and work with the footage.
The amount of back and forth I have with the producer depends on the producer and how long we have worked together. Some producers I actually get input BEFORE production starts. On ANDREW JACKSON I talked with the producer about the importance of the TRAIL OF TEARS and displacement and deaths of hundreds of thousands of Indians. Because of this he scheduled interviews with Native leaders and scholars and devoted an entire act to this. Something the “other” Andrew Jackson docs either don’t talk about or gloss over. This got us pretty good responses from the public and scholars. We showed a very balanced view of Jackson, and a conflicting one. He was a great man that did great things and took on the establishment, defeated the British…yet he was horrible to Indians.
Other producers crave my input as well. This is why they like to hire editors who are good story tellers…does this work? Does that not? I can suggest changes or rearrange things and show them those changes to see if they like them. I have even written VO that was then added to the final script.
And I have worked with producers who are the ring leaders and masters of their domain and want it their way…period. I am just a button pusher and how dare I suggest a story point to them? So, it all depends on who you work with.