The Bathwater Scene: Getting to the Picture Lock
I'm pleased to be able to keep a challenging indie drama like Endings to a shorter running time, but I'm also pondering whether or not certain elements work, if it's paced too quickly now.
I don't really think there are pacing problems (or, at least, none that can be fixed based on what was shot) -- but when you're faced with locking picture soon, you start questioning everything. I'm a perfectionist and a realist at the same time. I want to get it right, even if it means going through every take to check what else we've got; but I also want to get it done. Finding the middle ground between these two extremes is, I suppose, what an indie filmmaker does.
Also, the editor of the film likely won't stick around if I started reviewing every cut. I'm nitpicking things enough as it is right now, and he and I are haggling back and forth over one scene that he has affectionately dubbed "the Bathwater scene" -- so named because he believes it holds more bathwater than baby and should just be thrown out.
I'm not sure I agree -- and therein lies the process. We're tweaking this one scene every which way, to emphasize various things, to avoid cheesiness, to trim bad acting, and to try to find a way to transition to the next scene (something I should have planned for better when we shot these two scenes)...
I just took a blog break to answer an email from the editor with his latest suggestion for transitioning. Today has mostly been dedicated to watching the film and working on these little details.
But sometimes I worry that I'm losing the bigger picture while we work on these details. On the other hand, I think I lost the big picture when I started shooting. I really can't see Endings in the way an audience member can, because I'm too close to it and too aware of all the details (of the story, of the shooting, of the post process).
It's kind of a sad thing, in a way. You're trying to create something transcendent, but you yourself can't experience that transcendence, because you created the thing and can only experience it with all your memories of its creation intact. The hard part is determining if other people can experience it as a transcendent experience, something that's hard to judge if you will never see it that way yourself.
I'm trying to determine at what point I'll ask some people unfamiliar with the story to watch it and comment. That's a nerve-wracking process, for me anyway...
In any case, the picture will likely be locked in the next couple of weeks. After that, color correction, visual effects, and sound work all need to be done. But picture lock always feels like the biggest step to me. That's not to diminish the others; the work involved in all of them is critical. But getting the picture cut itself right is critical in setting the stage for all those other steps.