TGIM: Thank God It's Monday!

Thank God its Monday! Yeah, I enjoy Mondays. Actually I enjoy, Monday to Friday, the weekend too. I also don't understand "hump day" aka Wednesday. And Finally, I don't really acknowledge those weird statutory holidays that periodically come up. Basically, a day in the the week is a day in the week, when it comes to my job. Let me back up a bit here, 3 days to be more specific. 

On a Friday, years ago I was dropping off my son to day care and on the elevator ride down after the kid drop off, another parent looked at me, breaking the uncomfortable silence of the ride by gasping "Thank God It's Friday". I soon realize that doesn't go through my head when I go to work. I am lucky that I like my job and don't work towards the weekend. I might not like the subject matter or certain tasks associated with my job but I love Editing. Making and creating a story with images and sound give me a satisfaction and joy that I can't really describe.

Most of my career has been as a freelancer and because of that I schedule the lines have gotten blurred on the work day. At the beginning of my post career, I would work all crazy hours, since I was a night person. Then I got into a routine and slowly realize, when I was building a family that I needed to structure the time more, basically into the 5 day work week. But even when I did that I never dreaded going to work. I found myself working towards getting back into my home office or edit suite to get back at it. I do love what I do even if I had to modify it to fit a more standard lifestyle. 

Even now that I have a stable gig that has me working a 5 day work week, in a more and I never have that feeling. I have been lucky enough to get jobs where I am self managing and that I am trusted to do the task at my own pace with the minimal supervision. Editing requires a certain level of self motivation or you will be gasping every hour on the hour, counting the minutes til the 5pm "school bell" and at that point your just a machine operator. Don't get me wrong, I do dislike parts of my job, sorting and organizing footage, debating with less than savvy producers, dealing with confusing feedback notes... I could go on but really the pros outweight the cons. 

So Thank God It's Monday!

New Years Resolution, Whatever...Thrive to be a Lazy Editor

In the past 2 years, I have realize that I am a lazy editor and I am not alone. Everybody is a lazy I have realized. Notice that your kid's teacher is lazy, your co-worker is lazy, even the garbage person is lazy. I see it on a daily basis at work, people striving to not do something. They actually put a lot of effort, ironically, in trying not to do something. I realized that I am even lazy when it come to doing something I love to do, editing. 

In my very unscientific observations, I have broken it down to 2 very broad versions of lazy. The unproductive version which is the more popular version of the word. The version that one would associate with Homer Simpson. We are all very familiar with that type.


However, the other version of lazy is productive lazy, which is often misinterpreted. I like to think that I am the productive lazy person when it comes to editing. People might confuse the notion of lazy with lack of work ethic but this type of lazy is all about work efficiency. If your this brand of lazy, people might give you compliments like "your pretty quick" at sometimes when they look at the way you working a keyboard. Or maybe these phrases come up frequently "your done?!", "That was fast". At other times they might comment "wow that guy has a lot of downtime" when they walk by your suite or they have that perplexed look of "He never looks busy". Well that is the result of the productive lazy.

I use to be one of those people that thought the hours logged on project directly correlates with the quality of the work. "Sweat equity" is common knowledge concept and I realize that it's wrong, dead wrong as a concept.

When I use to work on film, set you would see this all the time. The young folks would scramble around fast and furious; the older people wouldn't even break a sweat. The young can outrun the old but like a fairy tale the older hare usually gets there more efficiently and often quicker. In my younger days, I would alway wonder how the old guy got it done faster than me. I slowly notice why they didn't have to race around. Productive use of their energy. 

So back to my laziness, the efficient kind. In editing you should strive to be this type of lazy. What it entails is that you need to make everything as simple as possible and this does involve elbow grease but you reap what you sow. 
It does require you to master some tech/software skills to create workflows that make things the fewest click process. Organizing your media to retrieve a clip easily when you have an idea about a cut sequence. You want to strive to be a Lebowski lazy Urban achiever.

If your Lebowski lazy, you have time to make a white Russian, you have time to meditate about your bowling round and you have time to meticulously shop for cream because you did all the heavy lifting, your set up is built to go fast, you know your software and hardware inside out (e.i.  Keyboard shortcuts link to old post) Your basically have time to lean back relaxe and pounder your cuts, your back isn't against the wall because of the way you work (it might be because of all the other moving parts of film but its not your doing, that's the point. 


It is the beginning of the year and a time to make resolutions. I don't really believe in making 2 week promisses to myself that I am bound to break because they aren't habit forming (back to work podcast) But I will make a realistic goal that is easy to improve on because it will help me be more lazy. Tweak my workflow even more, so I can reach my true inner Leboski.

Anybody can Edit and make a movie

Anybody can edit. Yes, anybody can do it. It's not particularly hard to get your hands on the tools to stitch two images together these days (thanks Steve Jobs) and we have all grown up with TV, movies and now streaming media. So, we all know the rules, the basics of how to tell a story with images. We can't all verbalize it instantaneously but we all have that funny feeling that "this should go here and that should go there", as a famous scroundrel once screamed. Even better the rules of editing have become looser than ever. The 180 rule, jump cuts and music videos have accustomed us accept all forms of montage genres, even the ones that are clasically labelled as bad edits. The laundry list of what you need to do is pretty short, so that you can make some media ingestable these days (see YouTube). I realized this fact recently on 2 occassions.

The first one, my wife was shooting a small instructional videos to be integrated in a PowerPoint presentation. She isn't in film production at all. She works for an agency that aids kids with autism and helps them through workshops to teach parents how to care for the challenges of their child. So, she told me that she was going to shoot the footage with a co-worker themselves. My alarm went off and looked at her, then asked her, "who is editng it?". Pause, lookded at me and answered "you want to do it?" I gently explained that I rather not. Then she shrugged it off, "I figured as much" then she explained that it was okay, her manager liked to edit stuff together and she would do it. I'm curious now, I ask "what has she edited?", "oh, just her own home movies" she replies. I pause in a film snob way and then say, "Hmmm, okay". I think to myself cool they "got" this one and I give my wife a few tips aobut shooting and coverage, "(good luck)" the elitist in me thinks! 

The second similar event that got me thinking about editing skill and ability was from an old film set friend of mine. He explained to me that his son was getting some internet jobs as an editor. His son bought himself a system and has been doing little jobs on those bidding freelancer websites. My first knee jerk reaction is the snobby filmmaking student in me from the 90's. I learned the rules! I went through some Full Metal Jacket style bootcamp to learn the ropes of crafting a story. I put hours of film study, practing my soon to be craft on short films, slugging away many years of learning processes, hardware and now software to eventually build a carreer as an editor. Inside my head I am screaming,"You want ME, on that wall!" 

Then I take a moment to look down from the pedostole that I am on, to all the newcommers, expecting to be so high that they all just look like ants. But wait, they are actually just one step down from a olympic style podium. I am not as high up as I use to be (or my mind likes to think I was, anyway). I let the brew for a while and you know what, this is a good thing. The entry level to edtiting is very low, the roadblocks that I exprienced 15-20 years ago are gone. When I started, you couldn't even get your hands on an edit system even if you were lucky enough to get a production assistant job at a posthost. Their were many layers to surmount but now you can't use money even as an excuse. If you want to edit you can do it on your laptop and if your really cleaver on your smartphone. Everybody can edit and make a movie now.

The debate is still out on home many people get to the level of a craftsmen, some repeat the 10,000 hour rule and say to 20 hrs to get up and running with basic knowledge. But basically time is a factor and how much time you put into montage is based on your level of lazyness. Which brings me to another topic that I been noticing and that people aroud me always hear. Everybody is lazy.

No Spoilers Episode 3: Point Blank, Lee Marvin & Hard Hitting Cuts.

Any Tom, Dick & Harriette can continuity cut, takes a master editor/filmmaker to edit in a variety of styles. I stumbled on this great piece of filmmaking as I was digging throught the crates (aka DVD collections) as I prepare to re-design my home office and update my gear. POINT BLANK directed by John Boorman, edited by Henry Berman.

I won't pretend to remember all the different style names from my Film Aestetics Class I took in the 90's but POINT BLANK uses a mixture of techniques that should be watched again and again.

There is what I call a time-matchcuts that break the timeline of the film, smash-cut flashbacks and a great opening title sequence that echoes the main characters mood, imagine being in the mind of an angry Lee Marvin. My Favorite is the Time shifted editing; using dialogue or sounds from other scenes that span the movie timeline. Hard to describe but It's that Steven Soderbergh Limey style like montage sequences (which he admitily inspired the style of The Limey; haven't seen that one, that is another one to watch again and again)

I think this is one of the hardest techniques since it's like pig latin of filmmaking. It's a variation on the film language. So, you have to teach the audience the new languge code with limited time without loosing them. It is not for the faint of heart because your playing with fire. If you do it and it fails you lost your audiences trust and probably their interest. Point Blank succeds in not loosing you, as it jumps around aggressively, very echoing the protagonist.

I know your saying, this movie or that movie does that even better but this was before non-linear editing, made on a movieola or a Steinbeck. Imagine editing Momento, Pulp Fiction, The Limey... I takes a cetain determination and coincidentaly a Lee Marvin like resolve to introduce this style of filmmaking in those technical conditions.

I won't say that it goes on for the whole movie because it is doesn't. It is mostly a conventionally edited movie with strong composition and great late '60s style. Which is reason enough to watch this movie. However, watching how this type of editing techniques being used is like watching a tight rope walker, juggling, without a net. Bold.

PS. I haven't done one of these in a while but I have a feeling that I will in the near future, things are changing around the "old Republic" aka Gorilla Productions...


Guidestones ep 29 Post BTS or Trust thy Editor

The Guidestones project has been a getting lots of great reviews. If you haven't checked it out. Join.
I give it my "Sopranos recommend", watch 3 epidosdes and if you hate it, stop watching. it's not for you.

My previous Blog post about the Guidestones postproduction got me some great verbal feedback (write something in the comments if you like this or hate it). People seemed to enjoy getting a behind the scenes look at the process. So, when I got an episode to post up on my reel I decided to go back through my notes and communications with the director about episode 35 (officially released as Episode 29 in the series) and give some more info on the Behind the scenes of a low budget post process, the story end of it anyways.

Because Jay Ferguson, the director/producer, was around the globe shooting, we used the email for notes/feedback. I would assemble and rough cut based on the script, try to sort out any tech or MIA footage with the post crew. Then post up a locked Vimeo version of my cuts for him to screen from wherever hotel/motel he was in the world. 

gs 35.1 from Anthony K Baird on Vimeo.


So, I initiated my search for Guidestones notes episode 35 (released as ep 29)... "nothing". Curious.

I am an email hoarder, so I went my backup email program that I use as a catch all/archive... "nothing". Well, technically not nothing. This email:

Date 17 April, 2011 8:32:27 PM EDT

"This is cool....toss some dramatic music in and we should see what we need a couple feet / blurry running shots? At the end?"

If anybody knows Jay, he isn't a man of few words. So, I looked at the early episode notes (ep. 1-8), to compare. There was lots of back and forth for the first 2 episodes but a significant falloff on volume after those episodes. The notes transformed or evolved into a more coach on the sidelines of a game style or even better it was more like a conductor of an orchestra; "Faster", "Slower", "Good". 

GS Ep 35.3 from Anthony K Baird on Vimeo.


At some point in the process most of my successful projects have had this type of relationship. Trust.

A good director/client after the "tonal" tweaks of the beginning starts conducting not micro managing a.k.a. "use this shot", "cut that head move out" , (insert your favorite post production cliche). They trust you to put forth the best shots, performance even reference music. Not Blind Trust but a confidence that your choices are valid.

I have been a little lucky and I realize now that I seek out that type off relationship and if my gut tells me that this is not going to be that type of situation. I walk away. And in all fairness, me and Jay have worked together for a while, so this type of Trusting collaboration happens a little earlier in the process. Or in this case, I can jump in as the process has already started. (see previous blog).

So, when you look at the evolution of the episodes cuts ,you don't see the obvious drastic changes in alternate cuts, but the more critical eye can see the subtle tweaks, push and pull in the story and pace. More importantly you still see that the essence of the episodes and its initial rough cut story. The tone is still in there (my responsibility on this project). The color on the walls of the house has changed but the support beams have not been touched.

A things that I thought were interesting: Final is 1 minute shorter than rough but pacing is the same, music tone changes feel of final scenes and reaction shots change interaction of characters (I think if you watch the series you'll get it). Here is the final episode.

GS S1e29 from Anthony K Baird on Vimeo.


As a filmmaker, I find this type of subtle comparison more helpful than the wacky scene that obviously doesn't work that was left on the cutting room floor (see Bill Paxton scene in Aliens).