Tag Archives: Post Production

Thoughts on Film: La La Land

My favorite film I saw last year was, without a doubt, La La Land. Typically, I avoid musicals like the plague. I find them cheesy and full of cliches. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with how much I loved La La Land.

After reading an interview on Provideo Coalition with Thomas Cross, the editor for the film, I gained an even deeper love and understanding for the film.  Cross, who was also won an Oscar in 2015 for his editing for Whiplash, is a genius when it comes to his vision and skills, but editing a musical was a whole new challenge. “Usually you make an edit decision based on a number of different factors which include emotion, story, continuity, geography, etc.  In the case of a musical film, you consider those factors but also have to consider how your cuts line up with the music,” said Cross in his interview with Steven Hullfish.

“Damien (the director) is very well prepared when he shoots and plans every shot and every move. When you get into editing, however, you invariably have to revise or refine. Sometimes you lift out a part of a scene. Other times, the you need to perfect a camera move or moment that was very difficult to nail on set. Either way, you have to find a way to put the pieces together to make sense emotionally but also to be in perfect solidarity with the music.” – Cross

After watching the film, I was impressed with the fluidity of the scene changes. But after reading this interview and re-watching the film, I had an even better appreciation for the film and all it accomplished.

The editing had a realistic approach, but with a slight lean toward the modernistic style. The whole film felt dream-like, almost as if you were watching the movie from above. It is very evident that the director, Damien Chazelle, and Cross worked very closely together to make sure the vision for the film was clear and understood. Cross even mentions in his interview how closely he worked with Chazelle during pre-production and filming to ensure the style for La La Land would be exactly what Chazelle had intended.

La La Land, was at the forefront of many award shows for film this year, and I believe is a great example of how hard a film team must work (and work together) to create a masterpiece.


Thoughts on Post-Production: Editing

Once a project has been filmed and the production process is complete, the film then moves into post-production where the editing process begins.  The craft of editing consists of selecting, combining, and trimming sounds and visual images after they have been recorded.In classical, analog style editing, this was done at the end of the filming process and required a whole separate team. Now in the digital age, editing can be done side by side the film process.

The editing team has a lot of control over each individual clip, and decides whether how each shot if cut or faded, depending on the director and producers vision. This takes a lot of time and skill to edit large amounts of video and audio, especially under a tight deadline.

Like I’ve discussed in previous posts, editors will choose to follow a certain aesthetic that the director has set forth in the filming process. In realism, the editor will do everything in the editing process to make sure it looks as true to real life as possible, whether that means edited from the first person perspective or third person, viewing from afar.

In modernism, the editor will make the editing process evident, rather than trying to hide the edits like in realism. The editor can draw attention to a certain aspect of film by causing a dramatic edit that draws an emotional reaction from the audience. Editors in the modernism aesthetic are given a little more freedom and creativity to showcase their artistic side.

Postmodernism takes the editing process even further by piecing unlike sounds and images together to create dramatic scenes. The audience might even find the collages of video to be disorienting or hard to follow, but it is done on purpose to achieve a specific reaction to the scenes in the film. An example of a dramatic enactment that was staged as a direct cinema interview, was in Mitch Block’s No Lies.

One of my favorite films, Fight Club, definitely varies between realism and modernism editing aesthetics. While the film feels authentic and real in many scenes, there are times the editing process takes a turn toward the modernistic approach and creates dramatic, jarring scenes.