Every day after school, my youngest daughter (age 11) comes into my office to watch me cut A HAUNTING. She does this in the guise of “I’m going to do homework out here while watching you edit.”  Although she does end up paying more attention to what I’m doing and asking about what I’m doing than doing homework. But I tend to forgive the lack of homework doing because she’s very interested in the craft of editing. But I do make sure she does it later…

Normally this show might be a bit intense and scary for a child of her age…and well, the age she was when she started watching me edit and watch the show…age 8. But because she sees how the show is cut, she sees the scene pre-visual effects, pre-scary sound effects and music cues, the show has been de-mystified for her. So she’s not scared. But, she still really enjoys it, and she loves watching it come together.

She will be in my office one day as I watch down all the dailies for a scene…and then start to assemble the scene. I’ll explain to her why I cut to a different angle when I do…the motivation of the cut.  Or why I won’t cut at all, just leave the one long take.  She will be in the office the next day as I cut the music and SFX for that scene.  I’ll explain why I use a certain sound effect, or why I chose the certain music cue. And then explain the process of back-timing music to make it fit the scene, and then why I might extend shots a few frames or so to accommodate the music hits.  Many times I will play a scene and ask her opinion as to what type of sound effect she thinks I should put, and when. So I can see what sort of editing instincts she has.  Most of the time they are spot on, as she will say “hmmm, I think I want to hear some sort of sound here when the person sees black ooze on their face in the mirror, and they jump. Some sort of boom…or something.”

Pretty good.  But that doesn’t top what happened last week.

I’m cutting this one scene, and it consists of single long takes.  The first angle is a medium shot that becomes a close up of a person walking down the hall after hearing a sound…Then the scare happens.  Then the next shot is of another person entering the hall to come to her aid.  The first two takes the camera is panned away from the first person, focused on the doorway as the second person emerges…then it follows him down the hall as he comforts his person 1. This is also a one shot take…no reverse angles.  Five single angle takes.  The first two takes started in the doorway, then panned down the hall, but they both had issues later on that made them not great. The far better takes are the next two takes…but the problem is that they didn’t start in the doorway…they started on a wide of the hall, angle on the first person.

This was an issue because not only would this be a jump cut, but the position she was in for the CU of the scream, didn’t match the wider shot at all. Sure, I tried it, because often this difference would be minor and not noticeable…but it was just too different. So I wasn’t sure I was going to do.  I explained the situation to my daughter as she sat doing her “homework” on the client sofa.  She put down the book, stood next to me and studied the situation.

“Hmmm…” she said.  “How about cover that cut with an interview bite?”

I was about to say why that wouldn’t work when I realized that it would work…and rather well too. See, you need to know (if you don’t watch A HAUNTING), the show is a mixture of interviews and recreations. Mainly recreations, but with interviews of the people the incidents really happened to to give the scenes more weight.  I will cut the scenes, but then need to adjust the cuts to accommodate the interview bites. And in this scene I had the interview bites happen much later in the scene, after the second person rushes to aid the first.  But I could just move the first one up sooner. Have her scream…then say “I was utterly scared, and fell to the floor,” then cut back to person 2 coming to comfort here…a few lines back and forth, and then the rest of the interview.

BRILLIANT!  This suggestion took her less than 5 seconds to come up with.

Now, I’m sure I would have figured that out eventually (maybe, after ranting about it for a bit)…but her instinct on this was so spot on, so quickly…I was humbled for a moment.  This kid has a future in editing, that’s for sure.