Last night, Rob and I put in about six hours of work on the first rough cut of "Changing Lane." He had assembled the first half, more or less, and after watching it and going over some notes on it, we finished the first cut of the film. A few more notes on the progress, and we called it quits for the night. As Rob said, we were left with something that was a little more than a rough cut and a little less than picture lock on the film. There are still several elements that we need to add into the movie, but we've at least got something to work with now. (Part of the process was to go through the film and find still images that would be used as the marketing and promotional images from the movie. Some of those pictures accompany this entry.) We're meeting again next week to add those new elements into the film. We need to record and include a news broadcast that Lois is watching at the top of the film, as well as any musical cues or credit sequences that we need to add to the film. We're also looking at trimming the film down, since we feel that it might be running a little bit long. I would have liked to bring it in around the ten minute mark, but it's running around 15 minutes at the moment. I had wanted to cut several pages out of the script before we got to shooting, so I still might get the chance to do that during editing. We could also edit the pace of the film in the editing room, and we actually made some dialogue overlap to give it a stronger sense of drama; we raised the stakes. We also used the editing tools to give a little room to other moments, including Lois' rant to Clark as well as the moment in which Clark reveals his secret to Lois.
One of the fun (and challenging) parts of movie making revolves around that fact that the editor is the one in charge of organizing and pacing the performances. On stage, you speak your lines in order, the other actors respond to you, and the moments come to life as the cast and director have rehearsed them. But on film, the lines and moments can be changed, re-timed, and in some drastic cases even re-arranged. As Rob says, "the film is written three times: Once on the page, once with the actors, and once in the edit." He freely admits that he may have stolen it from Spielberg, as they've worked together often. But it's still true.
Now that we've put all the images and sounds into the correct order for our film, we now enter the world of fine-tuning and "tweaking" the product. In a big-budget project, we would now have a list of re-shoots: scenes, lines, or moments that we didn't get on the day when we were shooting. But because we're on a rush schedule for the contest deadline, we don't have the luxury of doing re-shoots. As a matter of necessity, we need to assemble our film based entirely on the footage and the coverage that we actually have. There were at least three times last night when I asked if we had a different angle on a scene, Rob told me that we didn't, and so we just cut around what we had. The final moment is working rather well, so I'm excited about that. And Rob's roommate laughed at the final beat of the film, so the first test audience to see the film gave us a good review. The best part of the night was just sitting down and watching the footage, knowing that we're starting to have a pretty solid film on our hands. There is still work to be done on the project, but it's good to know that we've got a good foundation from which to work.