While the edit was mainly the domain of Michael and Emma, I did offer my feedback on rough cuts and found it a good opportunity to critically reflect on my cinematography.
Initially, there was some worry about bed scene and whether there was enough coverage of Valerie’s reaction to seeing the black goo. We briefly considered reshooting some close-ups from this scene in a different location but Michael was able to cut together a sequence that worked. I feel like this was probably inevitable after the logistical stress on the final shoot day but I could maybe have discussed the shotlist with Michael more to try and avoid this happening.
I was also quite unhappy with the wide shots of the field (hilltop) scene and the bed scene. My intention had been to create a ‘snowglobe’ effect using long lenses but positioning the camera far away from the action. This would be intercut with close-up shots of the scene to control tension, show Valerie’s dissociation and show a shift in narrative perspective. Looking back at the footage, I can see that this effect doesn’t come across well – it looks as though the wides are poorly positioned and only partly separated from the close-up shots of the action. The sense that this is an intentionally jarring effect is lost. On the shoot days, I ended up opting for more asymmetrical framing as I felt this made the image look more interesting – this undermined the snowglobe effect which I had previously tested with much more centred framing. I also think that I should have set the camera even further from the action, making the figures appear smaller – the shots are currently only slightly wider than an average wide shot and don’t particularly stand out. This has taught me to test my ideas more thoroughly and think through my framing more carefully on set. I should also maybe have shot more natural-looking wide shots as a contingency to ensure we had full coverage for the edit.
This editing process was also a lesson in letting go of my pre-visualisation of the film. Working with Michael and Emma, we realised that it is more important to work towards an end product that works best as a coherent film, rather than something that completely matches our initial intentions. Michael ended up making some fairly major changes which I had not planned for, including intercutting short flashbacks of Valerie’s assault into the earlier scenes and the decreased use of some of the wide shots (for reasons listed above). Michael also added some rapid panning shots of trees in Scene 10 – footage that actually came from re-framing the camera after slating and wasn’t intended to be used!. As I had previsualised the film in a lot of detail, often editing in my head and matching shots to specific lines of the script, it was important that I let go of my ego and allowed the edit to progress with what Emma and Michael thought worked best.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the edit. I think Michael has worked hard to bring the film together into something that is coherent and flows together smoothly. However, I also feel that the film has lost some of its impact and tension. In particular, the use of intercutting means that the source of Valerie’s trauma is explained almost instantly and the transition from the forest to the party is less of a major moment. Although I am not happy with how the wide shots turned out, I feel like they could still have been used in a way that fit more closely with my intentions, for example, used as a cutaway to add emphasis to moments of tension within a scene. Having said that, I’m not sure whether these ideas would have worked and I discussed them thoroughly with Michael to make sure he took my intentions into account when making his decisions.
We now have picture lock! On to the colour grade and sound edit…