November 8, 1996

We got into the editing room for the first time in a week and tinkered with the film in preparation for another test screening tomorrow. Our biggest change was a drastic truncation of the yard sale scene, which shrank from 190 to 140 seconds. I have mixed feelings about the trimming. The scene now looks less distinctive to me, with more cuts and less of a minimalist feel. But it probably works a little better in the narrative now that it takes up less time. I'll see how I feel about it.

There is very little pleasure to be had in this phase of the editing, in which we are trying to address the problems that test audiences have had with the film. It's no fun for me to cut away at scenes that I designed to serve a function, and it's no fun to leave alone a scene that alienates people. It's very hard to get perspective at this stage of the process, when I have seen way too much of the film. One of the well-known dangers of the filmmaking process is that the filmmaker often butchers his or her own work in the editing room out of exhaustion and panic.

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