So we got an assembly of Goodnight Cleveland together. Friday night was significant because Micah & I watched the assembly for the first time. I wanted to stay away from the basic scene edits until the assembly was together, and then start getting into the rough cut and fine cuts. Micah and Jeff did all of the editing, except 2 scenes that I edited because of time constraints. Goodnight Cleveland is a 16mm feature from Miguel Baldoni-Olivencia and produced by my good friend George Caleodis. It was shot in 1996-1997. It has remained dormant until the cost of telecine dropped to the point where I personally paid for the telecine transfers to MiniDV so we could edit on a computer instead of the archaic & time consuming flatbed editing. 

The film stars and is about an Improv troupe. That means there was no script. In this case, the entire plotline got improvised when, as happens in indie films, lead actors drop out or don’t show up, so they had to make do with a storyline and characters that weren’t intended to do one thing or another. Since the producer and director are both living in California, we’ve been flying blind in terms of putting all the scenes in “order”. Some scenes could stand alone & go anywhere, then other ones have continuity for one character, but not another.

We had some technical disasters and we’re pushing Adobe Premiere Pro to its limits, and we’re finding what those are. For some reason, not all of our edits and changes are sticking. I’ll make a cut, and then during playback, it will not be the new edit. Of course, because of originating audio on DAT and synching it to picture, we’re doing probably 5-6 layers of SEQUENCE timelines within SEQUENCE timelines before we get to the final timeline master. I think the solution is to make a master timeline that has fewer nestable timelines.

George was set to screen the assembly on Sunday (Yesterday), so we spent Friday night and all day Saturday experimenting. We decided to screen it at Tavares on the digital projector in surround sound (even though it’s currently in a MONO mix). This was a new experience for us since we’ve been editing on a little 6″x7.5″ window. We could see details (like a tattoo on an actress’ shoulder). Also, the synch was off a little because we could see mouths much closer up on a 6′ screen.

The order of editing a feature length movie is simply – an ASSEMBLY, which is taking every single scene shot and putting a rough edit together by placing all scenes in order. From there, you start editing down to the ROUGH CUT, which is where you start to omit scenes and chopping scenes down further. Next comes the FINE CUT, which is where you take all the input from directors, producers, yourself, anyone who sees the movie, and try to make the most sense out of the movie as it is. They say that editing is the “final re-write” or “the last draft of the script” because things that filmmakers INTEND often times don’t come across in the actual film. As an example, if two characters are related, but there is no dialogue stating that they are brother & sister, you have to find creative ways to get that information to the audience. It could be ADR, adding a new line from one actor, replacing other dialogue, or it could be shooting a newly made family photo, or a voice over, or any one of a number of ways that was NOT done during the shoot.

We are faced with a first feature film with a lot of good things and a few bad elements. Our goal is to make the best movie possible with the materials at hand. Some scenes are superfluous; others seem like that but have a nugget of plot point in the middle of a lengthy monologue. After talking with George, we have some new ideas, but a DVD of the ASSEMBLY is already being mailed to Miguel, the director, to get his notes too.

I can already start a rough cut because of my own notes after seeing this cut all weekend. Each scene needs some tightening, so going scene by scene won’t be a bad thing. We’ve got about 2 months left on it, as the audio work will take some real time… it’s not a small mountain of work.

Just because I had George booked for a whole day, we did a table read of my Dark Comedy script (which George co-wrote with me) at Tavares right after the screening of the assembly. I asked ACTING IN COLUMBUS’ Richard Mason to round up a few additional actors to read for me too.

When work-shopping a script, it’s crucial to hear the dialogue out loud. Words always sound better in your head than when someone is faced with speaking them. Alliteration, tongue twisters, mistakes, plot holes, and all kinds of things come out at a table read. I want to make this script perfect before I shoot it.

I met some new talented actors, plus we had some fun as the script was read. I recorded it digitally to the hard drive using the really nice mic we normally use for voiceovers. As is usually the case, it took about 20 pages in before people got a little more into their parts, except for a few actors who came out of the gate swinging.

There are some minor problems that need tweaked in the storyline I discovered. There was also some remnants of the “cutting and pasting” from the various drafts that were causing logic-errors that need to be fixed. Obviously some of the dialogue needs tweaked here & there. That will always be the case, even as you shoot (and even in the editing) as dialogue is malleable in my movies. I don’t ever let myself fall too in love with specific words that I can’t let actors contribute or that someone may come up with something better than I did. I did find a character that was under-developed and then in discussions with George after the read, we found a way to not only re-think the character, we tied her to the plot more.

Overall, the script needed work and that’s why I did the table read. Now I know what it needs specifically. That just means I have to make more time to make the changes and do the new draft.

I’m also starting to develop another script with Tony Goins. This is another feature (I don’t really make shorts anymore) that will also be comedic, but this one is for later. I have decided I don’t want to be a writer, but a producer-director. I like working on the material, but it’s better to work with someone else who can add to the project and bounce ideas off of. Collaboration is underrated in many people’s view of filmmaking.

Here comes another booked work week. I’m leaving in moments to start another edit job and then when I get home, I’ll have another edit waiting for me in the form of an actor’s reel. “V” is not a happy kitty. He is really displeased at Brandy working and me working away from home. I think we spoiled him and “V” acts out a lot, and then lies around depressed because he’s not the center of our entire day. We have discovered a new joy in a tinfoil ball. I toss it to the top of the stairs and he chases it up and down the stairs as if it’s mocking him in some way.

I also signed on to edit another feature, one in HD for the Derek. So I can now say goodbye to all free time I thought I might get this summer. That’s okay. I prefer the work. It’s better than pretending to be a filmmaker or wasting time doing nothing.

13.5 million views on GROUPER.COM and climbing. This makes me pleased. YouTube is also doing the Boo some good. 74 subscribers, and I’ve uploaded 41 videos. YouTube still reigns as the giant of online video. It’s changed the game single handedly. There are now so many ripoff sites, it’s ridiculous.

Anyways, I’ve got to get going to worky-work.

Have a blessed day, and stay positive.

Categories: blog

Peter John Ross

A filmmaker, a dreamer, and the world's only Dan Akroyd Cosplayer


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