August 22, 1996

After a week of technical hassles, Robin and I decided today to abandon hopes of using the cheaper key code method to edit the film. There are too many confusing and unpredictable things going on, and we don't have the time to learn enough to overcome all the obstacles that are thrown in our path. We'll fall back on the old, more primitive method of using video time codes. Hopefully it will cost us only about $500 more.

Robin is leaving on a week's vacation soon, so we won't really get started in earnest until September. My filmmaker friends advise me to try to get the video cut done in time for the Sundance film festival, which apparently generates much more attention from distributors than any other film event. The Sundance deadline is October 11. Robin still thinks we can make it.

In my enforced idleness, I've been thinking a lot about the directing lessons that Edith and Dylan tried to give me on the set. At the time, I accepted that I was merely screwing up, that I should find ways of translating what I need from them (often an emotion) into what they want to hear (a goal, or a set of conditions that they can use as a starting point). But, after some thought, I'm no longer sure that this is a simple case of translation. Maybe it's a different aesthetic altogether. If you really need the actors to exhibit a particular emotion, is there any reliable way to get them to your target without naming it? I think of moments like the one in Rudolph's WELCOME TO L.A. when Keith Carradine, in utter misery, breaks out in laughter. Rudolph clearly wanted the laughter (the scene contains no other action or dialogue)--I wonder how he could ever have gotten Carradine to that very strange emotion without describing it directly. Seems to me that Edith and Dylan's method is a good one if you are genuinely willing to explore the moment and come back with an unpredicted result, and maybe not a good one if you are anal and want the effect that you have planned. I need to talk some more about this with Edith someday.

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