Focus On – Jill Bilcock ASE ACE on “Red Dog”

Focus On – Jill Bilcock ASE ACE on “Red Dog”

What attracted you to the film Red Dog?

I loved the simplicity of the book and of course a good animal story can be irresistible.  Not to mention Nelson Woss tracked me down like a blood hound.

 What is your favourite scene & why?

Red Dog waiting for John to come home and then searching for him. The story of loss and grief portrayed through a dog. This scene still brings a tear to my eye.

What was the hardest scene to cut & why?

It was not so much a scene but how to create a style that made you comfortable to go with the dog's story. Creating an overall sense of retro seventies with the use of music and to not be too technically slick in the presentation.

There really isn't a "hardest scene". Beginning and endings are always extremely important and need extra time cutting.

There would have been a large amount of footage of the Kelpies how did you deal with the footage to get to be able to find the right expression?

I was still cutting Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and unable to start until after the shoot so Jane Moran did the assembly during the shoot which cut down my work greatly. She is a wonderful editor who shares my sense of humour and has an astute eye for detail and the unexpected. I am indebted to her for the work she did before I started.

There were three dogs. Koko was the principle actor and in the majority of the film. There was a younger one for the flashbacks and some of the fast running shots. An older dog was used for the end. The secret was to keep the story honest and not "cute" in any way. Selecting down was realising you are telling a normal story about an average bloke. That was who Red Dog was...just one of the blokes in a mining town. He didn't do doggy tricks or talk but became a valued member of a community. Koko came in for ADR and did his bit to add to the soundtrack.

The use of the RED Camera changed our work flow in that we were dealing with large files rather than film and the enormous amounts of footage meant needing more time to sort, view and edit. An estimated 1,000,000 feet was shot for Red Dog - out doing notorious footage counts as documented on films such as Moulin Rouge!.

The Post Path was planned for an AVID workflow. The Assembly was cut on an AVID which meant the rushes process had to be altered in order to move to the LIGHTWORKS in Melbourne once the assembly was completed. Billy Browne (my first assistant from Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark) worked out the technical path for the handover to the LIGHTWORKS. The files were processed for the AVID in Adelaide to a suitable codec which did not in turn match the LIGHTWORKS’ specs. As a result the RED files were shipped on drives down to Melbourne which we transferred in long batches over many nights using the REDCine software converting and down sizing to Pro Res 422 (this was all done at the cutting room). These files were then imported into the LIGHTWORKS with metadata intact making for a smooth conform down the track. The footage was manually sunc with the Pro Res 422 files to the original audio and Jane’s assembly was eye matched from a QT off the AVID using timecode & shot name burn ins.

How many weeks did you have to picture edit who were your assistants and where did you cut?

It was a normal edit time of 10 weeks. My 1st assistant editor was Hayley Browne who took over from Jane’s 1st assistant Gwillym Hewetson who set up the project for the AVID. Unfortunately I prefer to work on the LIGHTWORKS resulting in a major technical challenge for all concerned.  Jane and Gwillym together with Hayley and Billy were responsible for the smooth transition from the South Australian cutting rooms to the Melbourne rooms.

Reviews of VFX & conform updates were held regularly throughout the edit. Nelson Woss was based in Perth, Kriv Stenders in Sydney, post house Rising Sun Pictures & VFX house Resin were in South Australia, editorial was in Melbourne and screenwriter Daniel Taplitz in the USA so we used a program called CINESYNC to hold these meetings.

This system was of huge importance to the project making accessible the most up-to-date pictures and new shots for discussion connecting everybody in a remote but live setting.

We previewed Red Dog in November 2010 at the Southland Village Cinemas. The theatre sat 400 people (approx.) and the cut was outputted to a DCP (digital cinema print). Several tests were held in the cinema we were to screen in, including a run just before the audience arrived to ensure everything was adjusted perfectly as close to the screening as possible. We supplied the conform (which was created at Rising Sun Pictures) to Digital Pictures in Melbourne where they created the DCP with most recent sound mix. The picture quality was excellent and the film tested well.

The irony was that after all this work in making the exchange from AVID to LIGHTWORKS I ended up using the AVID in England helping out on Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

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