I asked Kevin Russell - the editor I’ve been working with - to give his perspective on the whole (in the wall) editing experience. His words (all of them, I swear) below:
I’ve worked with very few people like Amanda Becker in the local film community. She’s a director that’s somehow able to give you just enough information without those fruitless details that can restrict your own thoughts on the project or process. Where she leaves off in her critiques is a very conscious moment to give you open room and welcome new ideas. I was very appreciative of her willingness to continually look at her film, her story. and her process with freshness.
As for ‘who in the world is this guy and what does he have to do with this project anyway’, well… I began editing “Hole in the Wall” about a month ago. She came to Splice (a post production house in downtown Minneapolis where I work as an editor) with some heavy concerns about the structure and strength of her film. Helping to solve these issues seemed promising for me, as someone who jumped into editing for the analytical side, and I think exciting for Amanda to have someone external look into the post work. As for my openness to work on a project that was already well under way in the edit, I must say that I’m quite intrigued by the thought of helping a director figure out exactly what kind of film they may or may not have on their hands. That kind of exploratory process doesn’t necessarily happen too often in some of the more commercial work I deal with day to day, where you might have strict guidelines for the outcome. So I started from the beginning with her edit to figure out just that: what kind of film she may or may not have.
From the first day of editing, one of the focal points was to try and develop a more abstract nature to the form. Since I’ve worked in music videos for the last few years, it came naturally to try and bring out the ambiguity in the story and lessen the literal aspects. So I took about a week on my own to work with the film and sent Amanda a rough cut soon after. Initially, I think it was refreshing for Amanda to see a very different approach to the material and the story and overall it felt like the original feeling of what she was trying to accomplish was still intact.
Cut after cut, we developed a more abstract, tightened, and ambiguous short film. I let the visuals tell more of the story, removed quite a bit of dialog, and worked to build a fitting mix to the audio, complete with strange hums and children’s voices. This lead to a shorter and seemingly moodier film then the original version, which was longer and fairly linear. This also lead to a much different version of the film then I think Amanda was ultimately intending.
Throughout this entire process, Amanda was fairly open to manipulating the material in new ways, whether it was working for the better or worse, and she was always aware of the general direction she wanted to take the film, so I wasn’t wondering in the dark. Eventually and inherently with editing in that style though, the abstract nature was pushed too far and we needed to bring it back to a more formal approach so the audience wasn’t lost. I did just that and we ended up with a hybrid version. This new and currently the most recent edit, incorporated many of our individual ideas into one fairly cohesive short film. The only thing that was missing was just a touch of that initial feeling in the original cut Amanda had put together.
That’s where I left off. Right now, I would imagine Amanda is eating some kind of nut mix and drinking a lot of coffee wrapping up the edit and finding that last little touch to make it her unique approach to storytelling. I was very supportive of this collaborative process and more then happy to have Amanda develop the final feel to her film. Throughout the last month, we both stretched ourselves to find out what was possible after the production. I think sometimes you can go into editing expecting it to be an easy ride with lots of options, but it’s when you really push the material beyond even the only options you thought you had, that you find out just what you can accomplish with your work.