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ASE Newsletter Issue 22 April 1998
This is the archive of the April 1998 issue of the ASE Newsletter.
edited by Matthew Tucker
From The President
Pioneer Film Editor: Bill Shepherd "The Coming of Sound" Part One of an interview by Graham Shirley
Conversations with Assistant Editors - ASE members gather to discuss issues with a panel of assistant editors.
A few observations on James Cameron's Editing Oscar!
MEAA negotiates with FOX STUDIOS, PART 2 Jenny Ward reports
What's happening in Melbourne? - Andrew Brinsmead
Nuts and Bolts Avid Workshop - Lile Judickas
No Girl Now - A Short Story “Jimi Hendrix, in the form of a tee-shirt, staggered menacingly, poutingly, toward me.” - Paul Healy
What’s a good cut? - Darren Jonusas
"Good Guys Bad Guys" Cindy Clarkson reports on the ASE - The Editor’s Cut screening.
ASE opens events to students and the ASSG - Jenny Ward reports on a new arrangement.
From The Editor
From the President
Well, I certainly opened up a can of worms last month with my little gripe. I have received so much information I could start a consultancy career. This month no gripes, but I still want to hear from anybody who wants to have a whinge about what they're doing. I could also cope with praise about the positive things happening out there as well.
One thing happening is that Melbourne is planning to have a conference this year which will look at similar issues to what Fade to Black looked at two years ago in Sydney. This brought up a lot of questions at last month's committee meeting about what has happened since then and what should we do next ?
We agreed to produce this year a set of guidelines for wages and schedules in all areas of editing. These will be budget guides for funding bodies and also for producers and production managers. More importantly, they will also be available for members. We need to have clear information about our own accepted standard from which we can then negotiate. So please be prepared for some random consultations in the next couple of months from Work Practice Sub Committee members.
Thank you to all those who contributed to the highly successful A Night with Assistants. Over 70 people jammed into the board room of the Exchange Hotel in Balmain for a very entertaining and informative night.
There are many more events coming up this month so keep your eyes peeled for notices. They make a great night out. See you around.
- Denise Haslem
Bill Shepherd, Pioneer Film Editor
"The Coming of Sound" Part One of an interview by Graham Shirley
What does an editor do?
Are you the people who cut the slateboards off the heads of the takes? Have you ever worked on a project and at the end of it wondered what your contribution actually amounted to?
In the next three issues of the newsletter we will run an abridged interview with veteran Australian Film editor, William Shepherd, who edited some of the finest feature films this country has ever produced.
The Cinesound years represent a golden era in the history of Australian film production. That era, quiet possibly, also represents a salutary lesson to the industry, inasmuch as it shows that even thriving and profitable production environments can cease to exist very quickly.
In this interview, Shepherd makes a number of claims about the contributions he made to some of the films that he edited. In the last article of the series, the Producer/Director Ken G. Hall offers a rebuttal to most of Shepherd’s claims. Hall had the last word, for now both protagonists have faced the final fade to black.
But were Shepherd’s claims of a larger creative contribution just bluster? Was Hall the creative auteur or, are his claims merely an attempt to keep all the glory for himself? Does this story sound familiar?
The articles originally appeared in 1974 and 1975 editions of Cinema Papers, and are reprinted with kind permission from the author, Graham Shirley and the publisher of Cinema Papers, Scott Murray.
- Paul Healy
PART ONE: The Coming of Sound
On the night of 24 May 1971, Bill Shepherd arrived at the Government Theatrette in Sydney. He was there by invitation of the Film Editors Guild of Australia to introduce Orphan of the Wilderness (1936), which remains his favourite among the 17 features he edited for Cinesound in the 1930's and 40's. The film again lived up to its reputation, and its first two reels of carefully constructed animal sequences were ample illustration of Shepherd's skill. After the film, there was to be a question-and-answer session, but Bill was totally unprepared for the ceremony that ensued. With the last question answered, F.E.G.A.'s then-President Don Saunders presented him with a plaque with read:
"To William Shepherd,
Australian film pioneer and doyen of Australian film editors, Whose career began in our silent cinema of the twenties And continued with great distinction and achievement through the golden years of Australian feature films of the thirties and forties. Who has edited more Australian features than any other editor. Who is a film editor to this day. To whom his fellows at the Film Editors Guild, acknowledging his outstanding contribution to film editing, are proud to award this First Life Membership".
With some justification, Bill was immensely moved.
Of course, there'd been kudos before. In reviewing Thoroughbred on 10 May 1936, the Telegraph wrote, "Technical excellence in Cinesound films can now be taken for granted. But the editing of William Shepherd and the photography by George Heath, are outstanding." Smith's Weekly, in reviewing It Isn't Done on 13 March of the following year, reported: "William Shepherd did the editing; he must have special praise, for his is a job of which the public is always ignorant, and this film proves that it is as important as any." Shepherd's role became even more important on Charles Chauvel's Forty Thousand Horsemen, a film which The Observer in August 1941 called "uncannily exciting" and whose charge sequence is as well known to many as its counterpart in Curtiz' The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Now aged 80 (1974), Bill Shepherd looks back at a film career which spanned the years 1924 to 1961. In that time he either worked at or studied nearly every phase of production, and what he hadn't known by the mid-forties he filled in via a self-funded trip to Hollywood. Documenting everything he saw, he returned to Australia in March 1947 with the intention of applying his knowledge to the industry's growth. The industry, as history would have it, didn't go far, and Shepherd's know-how had scant application over an ensuing decade's work for the Films Division of the Department of the Interior (which later became the Commonwealth Film Unit, then Film Australia).
BILL SHEPHERD: On my return (from the war) in 1918, I took up a building course with the Department of Repatriation. It took me a while to recuperate, so I only did the small jobs and enrolled in the film school being run by P. J. Ramster. The advertisements claimed that an appearance in a Ramster Photoplay would ensure you a career in acting, and his classes ran two or three nights a week with a different group of between 12 and 15 on each evening.
The films don't appear to have had much of a release. If Ramster had been backed, he'd have done much better than he did. He gleaned an adequate living from the money he received from students, but certainly not enough to rise to a level of lavish production. He liked to stick to his own suggestions, but he was well on the ball. He told us, for instance, that every move you made on silent film had its own significance. It had to be part of the story or it distracted.
Which of the films were you in?
I played in Mated in the Wilds, Should a Doctor Tell?, and took the role of a 'heavy' in The Reverend Dell's Secret.
Mated in the Wilds was filmed in 1921, and Ramster asked me if 1 could ride a motor bike. 1 said "Of course", and he sent me along to the Harley Davidson agent in the city. When I got there, the salesman came out with a brand new Harley Davidson with a side-car and walked it down the street. I looked at it and said "Give it a kick-over, will you? My foot's a bit crook." So he kicked it over and I got going turned left into Oxford Street and went all the way out to La Perouse at the one speed. You see, I'd never ridden a bike in my life.
Did Ramster hire professionals from outside the group?
Not as far as 1 remember. They were all taken from the classes. He made a film called THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE (1922) with Jack Chalmers the Bondi shark rescue hero, but like the others it didn't make money. As a matter of fact, it would be interesting to know how many important people of later years trained with Ramster. Not so much performers, but people fairly well up on the social scale.
It was through Ramster that you began your association with Jack Fletcher and the Standard Laboratory.
Yes. Fletcher's first job was in 1915 as a junior with Union Theatres. 1 met Jack when he'd been with Ramster a short while, and we became firm friends. in 1926 he supplicd the money for a two-reel comedy of Ramster's called Should a Girl Propose?
Did he finance any others?
Not as far as I know. He knew something of my building ability and asked if I'd come across and construct a laboratory for him behind his parents' house at Bondi. It was a fair job for one man, involving four rooms 12 by 12 each, and I'd just finished installing the tanks when Arthur Higgins arrived. Arthur was fairly busy and asked Jack if he could film a kangaroo drive for him. Jack said he'd like to but had promised that in the next few days he'd complete an order of part numbers and end-of-parts for Universal. Arthur said "Why can't Bill handle that?" So that's how I started lab. work. 1 printed, developed and dried the Universal order for three days and two nights - straight through. That was November 1924. From that time, I stayed on. I developed and printed neg. and positive, cut and did camerawork. Fletcher had fitted his lab. with a little old step printer and later got money from his father to buy a new Bell and Howell printer.
What was the camerawork?
Quite often we'd travel the country towns filming advertisements for retail merchants or whoever wanted to make themselves known through the local cinema. Otherwise we'd do freelance newsreel work for Topical Films in England, and for Kinegram and Pathe in New York. You took an item as if you were a freelance journalist taking a news item and the rates would apply according to the subject and amount of footage they used.
Did you always do the cutting?
Fletcher was one of the few cameramen in the twenties who rarely did his own editing. Ramster usually cut his own films, and any cutting that was needed on our advertising and newsreel shorts was done by myself.
So Fletcher handled the camera and shared the lab. work, while you did the cutting?
That's right. There were no major projects, mainly the advertising films. But 1 never saw Fletcher cutting, he passed it all over for me to do.*
Was anyone in Australia recognised purely as an editor?
The only editor of note during the twenties was Mona Donaldson. In fact, she edited The Birth of White Australia (1928) to about 12 reels and several years later I was given the job of bringing it down to six.
So broadly speaking this was the the first time you'd cut a feature?
I suppose you could say that.
Why was it reduced?
They wanted to re-release it, and it was too long. The story was told in episodes, so my job wasn't too hard.
Between 1927 and '29 you left Fletcher and went to work with Jack Bruce at the Commonwealth Film Labs.
That's right. Bruce and Cy Sharpe had recently returned from America to establish the lab. in Commonwealth Street Redfern. In 1928, Sharpe directed an anti-drug feature called The Menace. It was financed by a bloke called Juchau who had a business down at the quay. Sharpe, who was a good art director, designed the sets, I built them, and Bruce did the camerawork and the developing. The story might have been alright, but it didn't get anywhere and nor did the film. In the same year, I was loaned to The Romance of Runnibede as a grip. Scotty Dunlap directed that, and it was produced by a company called Philips Film Productions. In 1928, there was a power struggle at Commonwealth and I felt inclined to back Sharpe. Inevitably, Bruce won and we were both out. Sharpe was replaced by Phil Budden, whose father had co-financed the lab. in the first place. After this wrangle I joined forces with Fletcher who at that time had re-named his company Standardtone, and with a little more money from his parents was beginning to experiment with sound. Standardtone had been established to produce talkie shorts and commercials, and Fletcher had shifted his premises to the Lecture Hall at the Showground.
Did he intend to use it as a soundstage?
No, there just hadn't been enough room in the laboratory. We were at the Showground for a year, then we moved back to Bondi. Before we moved, I remember demonstrating sound film techniques at one of the Royal Easter Shows.
There were several others trying to develop sound at the same time, weren't there?
Yes, but if Fletcher hadn't thrown a fairly hefty spanner into the works, we 'd have been six months ahead of everybody else. De Forest Phonofilms had set up locally in 1927 to cover the opening of Parliament by the Duke of York. The original soundman was involved in a row, and the chap they got as his replacement was called Ward. De Forest's camera was fitted with an A.E.O. tube, and after the unit's departure Ward remained in Australia with two of these tubes. By 1929, the two had been reduced to one, and hearing of its existence Fletcher approached Ward, made a purchase and brought it out to Bondi. The device was just like a small fluorescent tube of today, about as long as three finger joints and about as thick as my thumb. It required 600 volts for illumination, and from thereon it could record to light signal impulse.
By the time we got the thing glowing it was around five o'clock in the afternoon and I said "That's okay Jack. Now put it on the table and for Christ's sake don't touch it. We can get on with it in the morning." I went home quite pleased, because this stroke of luck was about to place us months and quite a few quid ahead of anybody else in the field. But I hadn't reckoned on Fletcher being a born meddler and I arrived the next morning to find the tube shattered into a million pieces. He'd come out during the night, clipped the battery on, started fiddling and had crossed the wires. Naturally, the tube had shorted and had blown up. So now there was the prospect of developing our own process or giving up completely. We'd seen pictures of the Western Electric tube, and it operated on the principle of a variable light slit. From the operation of our Bell printer, we knew about the basic principle of variable density light emission. I don't recall that Fletcher did much reading on the topic, but it was a simple case of looking at the small number of available processes, and looking at the optical track on imported films and saying "Why can't we do the same?" The basic problem was that none of the locals who had been experiementing were prepared to talk about what they'd found. We knew that Cinesound were battling just as desperately as ourselves, but neither of us were willing to brag about it. I knew nothing about amplification, and if somebody had started talking about megacycles I'd have wondered what the hell he was getting at.
Had you ever considered sound-on disc?
Yes, we were thinking of discs at one stage, but we found more advantages in the optical system.
Our breakthrough into optical sound came after we'd studied Fletcher's British General Electric radio, which was known as the 'Gekko'. The 'Gekko' had a long arm that vibrated to varying widths against a magnet. Onto the end of this arm I placed a small blade of tempered steel with a fine point for one of the jaws. Suspended above this was another blade which could be moved up or down to get the required thousandth of an inch between the two of them.
How close was the competition between yourselves and Cinesound?
They'd been mucking about for a fair while and I know that any sound they had wasn't considered too wonderful. In fact, what they achieved before the introduction of the B.G.E. tube couldn't have been considered as sound at all. Probably realizing this, they came over to Fletcher's for a demonstration. Before their arrival, I told Fletcher that our camera needed two new 45-volt batteries. He said "She'll be right", and shortly afterward in walked Arthur Smith with Bert and Clive Cross. We were set up to make a special test of them for Union Theatres, but right at the crucial moment the batteries gave out. That was the finish of the Cinesound negotiations and they left us to it. Two months after that, Cinesound got to hear about the British General Electric glow tube. It can't be denied, however, that Smith and Cross had more technical knowledge than we did. The main difference came with their ability to get better density with the glow tube itself. By that time, we'd abandoned the 'Gekko' for a tube we'd imported from Britain.
I suppose you edited most of Standardtone's work?
Yes. As in the earlier days, Fletcher did the camerawork and I handled the processing, editing, and after 1929, the sound. My first Showground editing was done from a big 35mm projector. You'd project your film, run it through again, then take it away and cut it.
With the coming of sound, I began to experiment. One day, I picked up a small book whose every page contained dots which flicked over and gave the impression of movement. By reorganizing the dots, you could create an entirely new illusion. Then I realized that film editing meant the manipulation of illusion, something fraudulent if you like, through which you could vary an audience reaction. if you cut your shots with a rhythm in mind, they would flow. If that rhythm were destroyed with a jolt, the audience would become disorientated.
The same principle applies to animation - what the eye sees but the mind doesn't is an optical illusion, something that's taken years to perfect. Animators have learned to short-cut movement. to underemphasize without making the image too basic.
Having built speed within a sequence, you must slacken its pace before you can work in the opposite direction. An illusion can only come from an advance movement, and herein lies one of the fundamentals of editing. The book taught me that, and later on at Cinesound I'd get hold of a good American picture I'd seen, place it on the wheel and analyse the thought behind the cutting. You had to be dedicated to do that, but I remember sitting down for days to study the earthquake sequence in San Francisco (1936).
Had you ever discussed this with other editors?
I met several like Mona Donaldson, but I never discussed editing technique with any of them. I merely picked up what I could along the way. In many respects, it was just cutting by instinct.
(CONTINUED NEXT MONTH: Working with Ken Hall and Cinesound.)
Conversations with ASSISTANT Editors!
... or how to fit 24 buttons into 25 buttonholes
As the sun was setting over the orange clouds on the 4th of March, various members of the ASE gathered once again at the Exchange Hotel in Balmain, Sydney for a night of “Conversations With Assistant Editors” (kindly sponsored by Atlab and D-Film ).
On the panel were various distinguished assistant editors, including Jason Ballantine, Megan Harding, Peter Skarratt, Sonal Joshi, Monica Stuart, and Adam Spendlove, all coming from various backgrounds of features, documentary, TV commercials and TV Drama assisting.
The notion of ’ It’s not what you know, but who you know ’ is not so true according to Sonal Joshi, who made her own contacts using the yellow pages. It eventually led her to working with Wayne Pashley on a number of features including Paradise Road.
Peter Skarratt stressed the importance of getting a broad view of the situation, instead of just focusing on learning the Avid, Lightworks, Protools and making them sing and dance.
One should be aware of the broader picture, in terms of knowing the overall process of how everything works in the world of post production. In five years time, a Lightworks or Avid will be quite different to what they are today, however feature films will most likely still be shot in 35mm film, at 24 frames per second.
The question “does one need to have a technical background to be an assistant editor” was raised.
Sonal answered by saying that the relationship between an editor and assistant is more important than knowing which button to press on the first day of a job. On her first day of working on a feature film, she had no knowledge of how to turn on the machine she was working on. However with the trust of her editor she was able to find out (how to turn it on) and finished the film. The combination of relationship, trust and learning on the job helped Sonal progress as an assistant.
According to Peter Skarratt, reputations are gained on various levels ... the most important being the smooth running of a cutting room. It is your duty as an assistant is to have everything in working order so that the editor is not concerned with anything other than cutting the film and reading the newspaper.
Peter Skarratt stressed the advantages of working in an established editing facility, where by assistants are often able to draw help from experienced staff at these various facilities. Instant technical support is available, often at times when it is most needed.
Simon Dibbs of Island Films pointed out the advantage for assistants of having at least some level of technical experience, for example on various films with the editing crew working on location. It is definitely an advantage if the assistant knew how to change a computer board, or at least have an understanding on how to start a basic “Process Of Elimination” ( This also applies to films edited on Steenbecks - they too have boards that may need changing ).
The many advantages of being an assistant came up during the night, one of which was the fact that at the end of the day, an assistant can walk home once his or her work was done, where as an editor has a lot more to think about.
The panel briefly touched on the subject of becoming an editor, Monica expressed the advantage of working in an established editing house, where by she was given jobs to edit. Others touched on various ways of making the leap, such as cutting short films and staying back late to practice.
As a change to pointing out the negative aspects of non-linear technology, Jason spoke of the advantages of working on non-linear systems, in that assistants are able to edit any scene, in any given manner, with as many versions as he or she wants, without disturbing the editors cut. This is a good training ground for assistants wanting to cut. Whilst editing on workprint this was totally impossible, unless you worked with NG takes, or were game enough to tear apart the editors cut at night and put it back in the morning!
Simon Dibbs pointed out that in the near future, systems will be networked, enabling assistants to access material whilst the editor is working with it.
It was a very hot night at the Exchange Hotel, the panel did an excellent job withstanding the heat (at times I felt like pouring a bucket of water over them, but didn’t). The room was filled with editors, assistants and many students from the North Sydney TAFE.
Everyone was dressed in summer gear, although some people had 24 buttons on their shirts with 25 holes, which didn’t quite fit somehow.
The night was organised by Natalia Ortiz, who is thinking of doing another session.
- Bin Li
James Cameron's Editing Oscar
A dangerous precedent was set with this award going to the King of the World (didn't he steal this line from the James Cagney movie, White Heat? "Look at me Ma. I'm the king of the world.") Okay so he had to share the Oscar with two real editors, but even so there must be more than a few directors out there who would have taken this award as an encouragement to follow a similar path. After all, why share the limelight when you know you are capable of doing everybody's job?
Last year I was called in on a tiny job where the first thing the producer said to me was: "Don't worry about the straight cuts, the director will make those, just do the tricky stuff." Up to this point I'd always thought that making straight cuts was tricky. I had to think about that one.
The best commentary on the Terminator's Oscar is found on the MPSE web site. Here they have
Ten Reasons Why You Didn't get your Reel To The Mix.
Number Two: James Cameron had to drop in just a couple of opticals.
Number One: The El Nino effect.
- Paul Healy
MEAA NEGOTIATES WITH FOX, PART 2
By Jenny Ward, Vice-President, ASE
The era of enterprise bargaining is upon us. Due to begin in June this year, the current federal and state laws that provide us with our basic rights and working conditions will be abolished and replaced with a new 20-point package. These 20 key points relate to holiday pay, jury duty, etc. and do not cover working conditions that, for the most part, provide the structure in which we work.
The MEAA continue to negotiate with SPAA for a new standard contract that will retain most of the current working conditions, and once it is finalised will endeavour to have this standard contract used by every commercial, television and film production company.
The MEAA also continues to negotiate a site agreement with Fox Studios Australia. Since last reported in Newsletter 18, the MEAA have made great progress. For the majority of the key points, Fox has agreed to maintain the same conditions that are currently covered by the Motion Picture Production Award (MPPA), and in some areas these have been strengthened.
The Fox standard contract will be used for all Fox productions (which includes Fox, Fox Icon, and any company using Fox Production Services) and will be simple to read especially what your wage includes, e.g. where you have agreed to a penalty buyout, it will be clearly stated and the compensation clearly shown. The MEAA has also indicated that they will hold workshops on how to read these contracts, explaining each section thoroughly with regards to your rights.
The following table (Table A) is extracted from a document handed out by the MEAA on 5 April 1998 called "Summary of Proposed Enterprise Agreement - Fox Studios Australia". Column 1 refers to a document presented by Fox to the MEAA in February 1997. Column 2 refers to the document submitted by Fox for consideration by the meeting held on 5 April 1998.
Where there is mention of categories, please note that Category A means offshore feature films, Australian features with a budget of more than $8.5 million or an offshore or Australian telemovie or mini-series with a budget over $2.5 million per hour. Category B means all productions not covered by Category A.
As you can see, the MEAA has been hard at work on behalf of all members (both union and non-union) of the television and film industries to try to save the conditions that have shaped our working lives. They deserve your support, especially in the current political climate where great changes are being made to the way we are employed. Typically, most of these conditions and penalties rarely end up in our pay packets, and perhaps it is about time that they did so.
Even after the momentum of the Fade to Black conference, post production personnel still do "invisible" overtime hours that no-one sees. It is all well and good to know your rights, but we have to learn to enact upon them. Stay tuned for more information regarding the SPAA agreement.
What's happening with the ASE in Melbourne?
You may have noticed that the A.S.E. in Melbourne has been a bit quiet in the last couple of months. This is due in large part to the summer break & a few departures on the committee. However don't despair - we're currently working on a new schedule of events to keep you going through this year.
What has the ASE provided for you in Melbourne?
Have you enjoyed the opportunity to actually get together & meet other editors through the A.S.E.? Perhaps you've swapped war stories, or asked questions about what you're doing wrong (or right) at one of our nights? Maybe you're just trying to get started in the industry & you've found some our evenings good for information on editing or just doing the old networking?
If you can answer yes to any of the above, then you've already enjoyed the results of the hard work put in by the committee for you! Lets face it, do you want these opportunities to stop? Think carefully, because it really is that simple. Do YOU want the ASE to continue in Melbourne?
A lot of people have put in hard work for you to enjoy the results, and now after 18 months, situations change & people move on so now we're putting out the call for new blood to come & help out on the committee. It doesn't have to be much - we're all hard working editors with the normal above average work loads in the real world, but we're ready to give a bit back by being on the committee. Funnily enough, it's not all that much hard work, it just takes a few hours a month - is that really all that much to ask for in return for what you're getting? Why not contact the committee & come to one of our fun packed meetings, and do your bit.
ASE forges relationship with VCA.
The training committee has been busy building links with the V.C.A. School of Film & T.V., and is in the process of organising a hands on drama editing course, using the V.C.A.S.F.&T.V.'s Avid editing equipment.
The head of the V.C.A.S.F.&T.V., Jenny Sabine said that she was keen to build a relationship between the film school & the ASE. Applications for the hands-on drama editing workshop which we're planning on running at the VCA will be coming out shortly - watch this space for more details.
To get things rolling, the training committee organised to send an editor to speak to all of the students at the Film School. Unfortunately, the first editor had to pull out at the last minute (due to work commitments), but with little time to prepare for it, Peter Carrodas & Steve Evans came to the rescue & spoke in front of the whole school. They talked about their careers & their recent collaboration as the editing team on Good Guys Bad Guys (see Cindy’s article elsewhere this issue) & they also took this opportunity to inform students about the ASE & its activities. Onya guys!
Our new person "Friday" (Well, it's the only time she's there!)
We've had a new office person join the A.S.E. in Melbourne - Clare Fisher - who will be able to answer any & all of your questions about the A.S.E. when she's in the office on Friday mornings. The office number is (03) 9686 6955.
Dr. Bob is here to help!
With this issue, we'll have Bob McCaffrey on board, answering many of those pesky questions that you may have about digital non linear online editing, especially with Media 100.
“Dr” Bob is one of Melbourne's top Media 100 editors who wants to edify us all with the benefits of his online wisdom & experience. Dr Bob's column should become handy for all you digital non linear online people out there, so feel free to send Dr. Bob any & all of your worries, & let the Doctor work it out for you!
You can e-mail Dr. Bob at BobMcCaffrey@Nemesis.com.au, or send your questions to this Newsletter.
Who am I?
(well not bloody Glenn Ridge, that's for sure!)
Last of all, as I'm the new newsletter correspondent for Melbourne (filling the enormous shoes of Cindy Clarkson), please allow me to introduce myself; I'm a freelance editor based in Melbourne. I'll be trying to keep you up to date with what the A.S.E. is doing in Melbourne.
If you have any ideas for articles, or better still you're interested in contributing something yourself, please contact me & I'll get your article into the newsletter.
I can even suggest some ideas you can explore if you're interested in experimenting with your hidden writing talents!
- Andrew Brinsmead
“Nuts & Bolts” AVID Workshop
The first training event of 1998 gets ASE members into cutting (and eating) mode!The tinkle of champagne glasses & pop of deflated balloons had barely ceased after the ’97 A.S.E. Christmas Party, before the Sydney training sub-committee was out of the starting blocks & away!
Our call for anyone interested in doing a Basic “Nuts &Bolts” Avid workshop was swamped by responses. (Didn’t people know they were supposed to be on Christmas holidays!!)
Peter Bradstock of Gunpowder, generously donated the use of his two newly-appointed Avid cutting rooms (& simultaneously, managed to organise catering). Trainers & trainees assembled under the tough - but fair - supervision of Leigh Elmes & the instruction began.
The aim of the workshop was to give Assistant Editors and/or Editors working without an Assistant an overview of basic Mac & Avid concepts that always seem to be overlooked in the rush to start cutting.
The morning session covered topics such as: the Mac platform and the Finder (or desktop level), Aliases, Folder hierarchy and how Media Composer relates to all this stuff, the Attic (how to find & use it - come on - don ’t be afraid to go in there!!), disk management & media file databases and finally creating a Project & User settings, backing these up and going to LUNCH!!
Peter Bradstock had a feast waiting for us & as everyone sipped their chardonnay & munched on their chicken rolled with salami, spinach & mango relish, the chat turned to ceiling insulation & the recent renovations to Gunpowder’s new premises. (It’s always good to broaden the scope of a conversation).
On to the afternoon session. This included setting up personalised Bin Views & saving these, various methods for logging & digitizing (batch, on-the-fly), marking in locators & sub-clipping while digitizing , dealing with time-code & control track breaks & time-of-day code and FINALLY some tips & techniques for basic editing.
By the time 6 p.m. rolled around, the cake tin was empty, the coffee jug bone dry and notebooks stuffed.
The Training sub-committee is getting ready to hold more of these workshops throughout the year, so that everyone who expressed an interest will get a chance to participate. Other workshops we’re hoping to run include one on EDL’s & outputting, another Creative Editing session & perhaps a chat on Effects work. Stay tuned to the newsletter for more info!!!
- Lile Judickas
No Girl Now ... - A short Story by Paul Healy
It was five minutes past one and I was late. Shortly before leaving the production office I had become embroiled in a semi-serious fight with the director of the film I was working on:
"Frank, I know we're up against an impossible deadline but I need an hour and a half off for lunch."
Frank, a bull-necked graduate of the rugger-bugger charm school gave me the old fish-eye:
"Bullshit! If you go outside this door, you're fired!"
The fact that I had been working twenty hour days for the last three days didn't contribute much to my appreciation of his response. There was an important screening imminent and I had two weeks of cutting to do in five days. Frank was under a lot of pressure and things were not going well. I was using too much amphetamine, a fact I realised when, around three o'clock that morning, I had looked down onto the floor to where the surplus film had spilled; the plastic seemed to have arranged itself into the outline of a Pentagram. When I spook myself like that, I know it's definitely time to go home. Then, at 7 a.m., I was jerked out of my stupour by the insistent telephone beside me. " Hi, it's me."
I knew exactly who she meant.
It was Nicole; she had left Australia two years previously vowing never to return. We had worked together and had enjoyed a very brief relationship; then she had left. For me, the relationship didn't end. She went off to England, as she had always planned to and I mourned her departure as I would mourn her death. We had written each other passionate letters for six months and then the letters started to become more disassociated, then erratic, and finally they stopped. She had telephoned occasionally, whenever she could find a free London telephone, and we told each other vaguely what the other was doing. But it was months now since I had heard anything and I was beginning to think the connexion had finally run out of momentum.
"Why are you back? The last thing you said to me as you walked through those sad doors was: I love you; I'm never coming back. Remember?"
" Yeah, I remember all too well. It's my mother's birthday and my sister gave me a ticket to come back to see them. When can I see you?"
"This just has to be the worst time of all. Can't we make it next week?"
"I've been here for a week and I"ve got another five days."
"I 'm at work for the next hundred hours, my arse is on the line."
"I can't believe that; you and Frank are old friends."
"Yeah, well let me tell you, old Franky boy has changed somewhat on this film."
"I know your exaggerating. Look this is the last chance you'll have to see me. I"11 meet you for lunch at the Broadway hotel. It's just near Victoria Park. I'll be there at one o'clock."
Nicole was the sort of commanding presence that I could not resist. Besides I desperately wanted to see her again. I said I would be there. "Frank, I haven't had any time off for weeks now. It's important I get out of of this hell-hole for a few hours. It'll do me good. I'11 come back a new person."
"Yeah well any person'll be better then the one you are. Listen sport, the production guarantor's going to want to know about you. If that film's not there on Monday, I'll personally see to it that you never work again. Understand?"
"Sure Frank, I understand (you prick). I won't be long. I promise."
Kay, my assistant, asked me where I was going. My relationship with her had been under a lot of pressure lately. I attributed it to the trickle-down effect.
"Out." I said.
I thought: you and Frank can stay here and hate each other exclusively for a bit.
The Broadway hotel is a fifties-style building on the edge of a six-lane gas factory. The stink of re-cycled fossils hangs heavily in the air. The only distinguishing feature from every other pub on the strip is a billboard facing the main road. The bill-board usually has some slogan which contradicts the bible quotation on the billboard of the church opposite. Today's saying is:
"If anyone worships the wild beast he will also drink of the wine of the anger of God." (Rev.14:9)
The hotel's riposte:
"Anyone who drinks the wine of Arthur will worship just about anything."
That Arthur was some wit.
I entered the public bar. I immediately ordered a beer and drank it. I ordered another. The ambience did not live up to the promise of the signage. In one corner was a group of office workers eating sandwiches and drinking beer.
A few lone drinkers stood, or sat, at the bar. I walked through to the saloon. Here there were workers from the nearby newspaper and half a dozen people who looked like small-time criminals or policemen. This was the pub where the Sydney heroin scene had been controlled by the notorious police hitman Roger Rogerson. It was from this pub that the most famous killing of a criminal by a cop had been conducted.
She wasn"t here. Perhaps she had left because I was late. Maybe she wasn't coming at all. I drank another two beers. Still no Nicole.
I walked out into the street and almost fell over a bag-lady sitting on the hotel steps, surrounded by her possessions. In heavily bandaged hands she was holding an illustrated real estate catalogue. The bandages appeared to be seeking out the ideal residence while her lips worked soundlessly.
I moved down the street and stepped into a laneway to blow a joint. This was largely ignored by most of the pedestrians except for a couple of Rastafarian-types who gave me a big grin as they passed. I had a very strong urge to lay down on the footpath, I must have hyperventilated.
I walked back up to the pub, rather slowly. When I entered the saloon bar, for the second time, I saw her. She was sitting at the bar with a drink in her hand, reading a local tabloid. This was something that truly made me want to love her. She was capable of performing the most declasse action and making it look like something suave.
"Nicole!" A hoarse whisper was all I could manage as I aimed for the stool next to her's and almost missed. There were microbe-like spots before my eyes as I stared into hers. We embraced and kissed for a very long time. Then we talked for a very long time, or at least I did the talking.
I told her all the things I had so inadequately expressed in letters: how much I loved her; the personal things between lovers; all the things I could not tell other people I knew well. I ordered a drink while she told me about how she had recently been married. I was crushed.
I drank my drink and ordered another while she explained that she had married a gay friend of hers to circumvent the immigration laws. She said she was looking forward to assuming British citizenship.
I couldn't believe it. I had another drink. She was actually planning on returning to the U.K. as she originally maintained she would. At this point we were interrupted by one of the criminal/cop types who was standing behind us waiting to be served:
"Don't you reckon she looks just like Annie Lennox?"
Nicole had modelled her appearance on Ms. Lennox but her haircut was the only part of her that could truly be said to resemble Annie.
"Yeah, sure mate." I said to placate him, but as I turned around to address him, he looked past me and said:
" Two beers and some beer nuts, thanks love."
It was only then, when I turned back to see who he was addressing, that I saw the barmaid for the first time. Christ, she really looked like Annie Lennox. The same features, everything. It was too much.
"Excuse me for a minute." I murmured to Nicole: "I'll be back."
I lurched from my stool and somehow negotiated my way to the toilet.
I must have been gone for some time because when I re-emerged the scene had changed quiet dramatically. Jimi Hendrix, in the form of a tee-shirt, staggered menacingly, poutingly, toward me. The bar had now filled with student-types and a band was setting up in the corner that had been formerly occupied by the cop/crims. Nicole was nowhere to be seen.
On being approached, Annie Lennox turned out to be rather a laconic type: "Look pal, you were talking to yourself all afternoon. There was no girl then, and there's no girl now."
I walked out into the dying afternoon. I was very late for work.
- paul healy
What’s a good cut?
I always enjoy debate on what makes editing good or bad. But it's not so easy to put this editing stuff into words, 'cos it ain't done with words, is it? Like, those 4 frame dissolves: were they PAL, NTSC or even 24 fps? Erk erk.
But when you do see really good editing, it hits you in the gut and you go "Ahh!" in appreciation. Most people could watch good editing and turn to each other and say "Yeah, that's good" or see some bad editing and say "What a load of crap". So it's usually quite safe to write and talk about it by remote control and you can always luxuriate in the warm glow of your own unsubstantiated personal opinion!
But very recently it has become horribly tangible and important to me to be able to quantify good editing, because I've just been asked to help JUDGE a certain number of docos and DECIDE which one has the BEST EDITING?! And what I have found when viewing some of the films in contention is that it is very hard to distill out the editing from the rest of the jumbled up process of filmaking.
Like, I might see a crap shot and think "What a crap shot, why would anyone ever cut to THAT", but then again, it may have been the only shot available. I might also watch a film and think "This 70min film could have said EXACTLY the same stuff in 40min and been a much better film for it", but what if the editor DID say that and wasn't allowed to bring it down? Or what if he/she DID bring it down from a commissioned 90min?
And who does the REAL editing? Is it the director? Is it the editor? Did the editor make a meaningful contribution to the writing? I'll have no way of knowing any of this stuff, or indeed circumstances such as the rushes, the time allowed for the cut, the budget - all I can judge on is the final result.
I guess that's the way it should be ...
- Darren Jonusas