Thursday, December 20, 2012
'As a filmmaker I'm speaking to you from my home.' His home being the editing suite. He being Orson Welles in his documentary Filming Othello (1978). In our digital age the tactile art of editing film has mostly been lost but this is still gospel. Editing is arguably the true creative process. Everything else is just gathering the ingredients. How you put them together is the real test. As he quotes Carlisle: almost everything examined deeply enough will turn out to be musical. The best artists have an ear for the rhythm of how scenes or sentences flow. An innate feel for how they follow each other. For Welles the moviola is a musical instrument where you search for the right tempo, splicing the images together until the hum, until they reveal an inner harmony, because 'a film is never right until it's right musically.' The pursuit of that rightness can take years. And often sense plays second fiddle to rhythm. Meaning follows form. You understand the shape or rhythm of it long before you understand what it is you're trying to say. In fact, the rhythm can often dictate the meaning. So editing can reveal the greatness waiting inside a film, manifest the dream inside the filmmaker's head, or, as Welles knew only too well, it could gut that greatness like a dead fish.