October 17, 1996

We had a terrible night trying to edit the yard sale scene. When I was shooting the scene, I did something that I rarely do: because one of the performers was a nonprofessional, I "covered" the scene by shooting it twice, once with each actor on camera. This is the way most directors would shoot such a scene, and gives the editor the freedom to stitch together the useful pieces of the conversation and omit the rest. Unfortunately, I realized in the editing room that I simply couldn't stand the way the scene would look if I cut back and forth a lot, and started trying to find a way to get rid of all the goofed-up lines with as little editing as possible. By night's end, we still hadn't come up with a solution that didn't upset me.

The worst aspect of the evening is that Robin is clearly unhappy with my approach to editing. Like most (maybe all) editors, she prefers to explore the infinite combinations and permutations of shots and come up with an unexpected and pleasing arrangement. Whereas I'm a rather controlling filmmaker, and my ideal editing session is a clickety-clack follow-the-numbers job that results in a faithful reproduction of my original concept. Usually the raw materials that I give Robin are so simple that there's really not much to do with them except put them end to end. But the way I filmed the yard sale scene gave her a glimpse of editing freedom, and my control-freak artistic personality took it away. Once I realized what was going on, I tried to back off some, but it was too late to make anyone happy. There are some advantages to being as controlling a director as I am, but a big disadvantage is that one's collaborators don't get enough satisfaction from the creative process.

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