Unreal Nature

June 18, 2015

It Seems as if Nothing Is Going On

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… It seems as if nothing is going on, but it’s the subtlest change, a complex shifting of the rhythmic and melodic patterns, and you cannot be impatient with it …

This first is from the interview with Sidney Levin in First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors by Gabriella Oldham (1992):

[ … ]

… just one small element can make such a difference. If you were to try to understand what makes editing powerful, and what makes an editor unique, you have to think in terms of those little tessere being placed in a large field. Take ten good editors, put them to the task of editing ten good scenes, and they’ll come up fundamentally with the same construction. But what will be different will be a little stone here or there that changes the entire color.

The following is from the book’s interview with Merle Worth:

[ … ]

… After the first rough-cut screening [of Raga] was over, Ravi Shankar said, “It’s musically perfect, but it doesn’t work.” He taught me something about Indian music and editing which, of course, filtered into my own life forever. He said I did what a lot of Western people do, which is to neglect the middle section of the raga because it appears to be so melodically uneventful. But in the middle section all the themes or the first section are being resolved and the seeds for the third section are being planted. It seems as if nothing is going on, but it’s the subtlest change, a complex shifting of the rhythmic and melodic patterns, and you cannot be impatient with it, you have to make it work. That was true in my own life. I’m terribly impatient with what seems like plateaus, and his comments changed my life.

How can you encourage students of editing to think this way about the material?

It’s not conscious. If they think it’s going to come in some conscious selections of material, it doesn’t. There is another reality that creeps into you when you’re looking at the material over and over again. It’s not cognitive in the conventional way that we understand the word. You are looking from inside the bloodstream of what’s going on.

[ … ]

… We [editors] build sound and image in ways that reinforce how unbelievably layered our existence is. We all move through life with contrapuntal responses to things, and we as filmmakers have the most exquisite tools to recreate that. What we do is make compressions of human experience. At our best, that’s what we do! [ … ] Editing is my form of rebellion in a society geared to demystifying the universe. This society, unfortunately, does not respond to much that is shimmering beneath the surface. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the rest of my life putting some of the mystification back in.

My most recent previous post from Oldham’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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