ASE ISSUE 28 - December 1998
This is an ARCHIVAL post of the Dec 1998 Newsletter.
In this issue:
Ot Louw - Dutch Editor Interview and report by Jane St Vincent Welch
Dreaming in Pairs - Extract from book by Walter Murch
Bits and Pieces from the floor ... Matthew's usual rubbish
President's Letter: December 1998
George Lucas at the AFTRS
And Cassandra Cried ... the First Assembly Forum in Melbourne as reported by Cindy Clarkson
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM 1ST ASSEMBLY FORUM
Australian Screen Sound Guild Awards Night
Ot Louw - Dutch Editor
by Jane St. Vincent Welch
I was in Amsterdam with my partner Nick Torrens because our film "To Get Rich is Glorious" had been invited into the video competition section of the IDFA ( International Documentary Festival Amsterdam ). It had 3 screenings, (the second two with packed-to-the-aisle houses) with question and answer sessions after each, the audience really loved it. It was really rewarding to get such great feedback on our film.
It was also wonderful to see so many delicious documentaries at once, the added bonus being to meet the film-makers as well. The festival mood was incredibly friendly and open which meant that you also drank more beer and coffee (and smoked more cigarettes ) in 8 days than I had in the previous year!
The only other editor I met was Ot Louw.
I found out in the festival program that he was the most respected editor in the Netherlands. In 1992 he was awarded the Golden Calf award, the highest Dutch honour for editing. He has edited about 350 films and videos. Ot has written a number of books about editing as well as numerous articles for film magazines such as Skrien. He also guest-lectures at Dutch Films Schools.
I asked him about editing in the Netherlands.
Ot says that about 65% of editors are men and 35% are women. In Germany 90% of editors are women. ( "Interesting, I don't know why? Just tradition?".) Documentary editors are also paid more than drama editors. I told him this was quite the opposite in Australia which he found intriguing. ("Because documentary is more difficult of course!")
The editing profession in the Netherlands is divided roughly into thirds. One third work full-time in TV, one third work in documentary (not quite fully employed) and the last third are the top line drama and documentary editors (almost fully employed).
Most feature films are shot on 16 or 35 mm and edited on film or Avid Film Composer. Avid seemed to be the preferred system, although Lightworks is also popular. Documentaries are shot on super 16, whilst cheaper productions are shot on Betacam. DV is being used more and more although it is not the norm yet. Most video productions are cut on non-linear systems but I got the impression that most film productions are cut on flatbeds.
Ot has a great set-up in the town of Bussum, about 15kms south of Amsterdam. ("you drive opposite the peak hour traffic") He has two partners, one is an established editor like himself and the other is an apprentice editor from a Dutch film school. The previous apprentice had left the editing nest to build his own reputation ("and doing very well I have to say!"). They don't have an editors guild and Ot was very keen to hear about ours and is looking forward to looking at our newsletter.
The editing apprenticeship tradition is being threatened by the impact of new technologies, as we all know. However the 7 Dutch television stations all share a central facility called NOS at Hilversum 35 kms south of Amsterdam.
This is where everyone gets his or her work experience including Ot.
He graduated in 1969 from the Dutch film academy and then worked at NOS.
Dutch TV has 2 main public stations and 5 commercial B grade stations.
After leaving NOS Ot gradually set-up his own studio until he had 2 Steenbecks, edge number machine, sound transfer suite and sound library. The sound library has an impressive 7000 fxs on a data perfect base with a cross reference system.
He now has an Avid Media Composer and an Avid Xpress. This sounds like bliss to me!
Ot works 5 days a week ("I start about 10 o'clock after a coffee, work, then we all stop for lunch, I don't like to eat in the same room as my work and then I get home about 6.30-7 O'clock, this is normal.") He works occasionally on the weekends but only to meet a deadline. A one-hour documentary takes about 8 weeks and a drama takes a week for every 10 minutes. He earns NLG 70 per hour (approx. same as our Australian dollar.) He's a happy man did I tell you?
Ot is also a busy man. He was one of the judges for the Joris Ivens Award (for best film documentary at the festival), is appearing on various panel sessions, socialising and right now is smoking 5 or so cigarettes with black coffee at 10 in the morning. One of the other judges is waving at Ot and pointing upstairs to their screening room.
I wanted to ask more about his approach to editing and style but I'll have to do that next time or learn Dutch and read his books.!
P.S. The Australian representation at the festival was impressive. There were five entries. Chris Tuckfield's "A Breath" ( editor, Nicholas Holmes) in the Reflecting Images Section , Lisa Wang's "Reunion" (editor, Andrew Narozny) in the First Appearance Section,
Chris Olsen and Penny-Fowler Smith's "My One Legged Dream Lover" (editor, Cushla Dillon), Curtis Levy's "Hephzibah" ( editor, Veronika Jenet) and our "To Get Rich is Glorious" ( editor, Jane St. Vincent Welch) in the Video Competition.
It was a great night for Australia at the Vondelkerk (the decommissioned church where the Festival's awards were presented) amid candlelight and a cascade of rose petals, when "Hephzibah" and "One Legged Dream Lover" were nominated for the Silver Wolf award for Best Documentary. The third contestant was a great French production " A Crime in Abidjan" by Mosco Boucault.
"Hephzibah" won! Curtis gave a great speech acknowledging Australian documentary and told them we'd be back!!
Thanks Amsterdam it was a wonderful experience.
- Jane St. Vincent Welch
Dreaming in Pairs
A discussion on the relationship between directors and editors, extracted from Walter Murch's book "in the Blink of an Eye", Silman James Press 1995
"IN MANY WAYS, the film editor performs the same role for the director as the text editor does for the writer of a bookto encourage certain courses of action, to counsel against others, to discuss whether to include specific material in the fmished work or whether new material needs to be added. At the end of the day, though, it is the writer who then goes off and puts the words together.
But in film, the editor also has the responsibility for actually assembling the images (that is to say, the "words") in a certain order and in a certain rhythm. And here it becomes the director's role to offer advice and counsel much as he would to an actor interpreting a part. So it seems that the film editor/director relationship oscillates back and forth during the course of the project, the numerator becoming the denominator and vice versa.
In dream therapy there is a technique that pairs the patient-the dreamer, in this casewith someone who is there to listen to the dream. As soon as possible after waking, the dreamer gets together with his listener to review the dreams of the previous night.
Frequently there is nothing, orjust a single disappointing image, but this is usually enough to begin the process. Once the image is described, the listener's job is to propose an imaginary sequence of events based on that fragment. An airplane, for instance, is all that is remembered. The listener immediately proposes that it must have been an airliner flying over Tahiti filled with golf balls for a tournament in Indonesia. No sooner has this description been offered than the dreamer finds himself protesting:
"No, it was a biplane, flying over the battlefields of France, and Hannibal was shooting arrows at it from his legion of elephants."
In other words, the dream itself, hidden in the memory, rises to its own defence wnen it hears itself being challenged by an alternate version, and so reveals itself. This revelation about bi-planes and elephants can in turn prompt the listener to elaborate another improvisation, which will coax out another aspect of the hidden dream, and so on, until as much of the drewn is revealed as possible.
The relationship between director and editor is somewhat similar in that the director is generally the dreamer and the editor is the listener. But even for the most well-prepared of directors, there are limits to the imagination and memory, particularly at the level of fme detail, and so it is the editor's job to propose alternate scenarios as bait to encourage the sleeping dream to rise to its defence and thus reveal itselfmore fully. And these scenarios unfold themselves at the largest level (should such-and-such a scene be removed from the fihn for the good of the whole?) and at the most detailed (should this shot end on this frame or 1/24th of a second later on the next frame?). But sometimes it is the editor who is the dreamer anct tne director who is the listener, and it is he who now offers the bait to tempt the collective dream to reveal more of itself.
As any fisherman can tell you, it is the quality of the bait that determines the kind of fish you catch."
(The above extract reprinted in recommendation, with appreciation, but without permission ... MT)
The Ruthless Resurrection of the Inessential
Bits and pieces swept from the floor by Snodwin Swinedrench
Your reputation is on the line.
Sadly, only about 15 of them were editors, albeit the best of the bunch. (The rest were there to celebrate Cynthia's 21 st Birthday.)
What's going on? Was everyone having a bad hair day? Was it Ally McBeal night? Something wrong with the Safari Bar? ASE membership cost you your beer money? Yeah sure. Are we so isolated, editing in our producers' spare bedrooms that we've forgotten how to socialize?
What happened to all of you who keep asking "when are we going to have another drinks night?"
OK, we'll organize another one soon in case you genuinely missed it. But hey, if you don't like the night or the venue, sing out, because we'll never know otherwise.
Its EASY to have your say in the way ASE runs these things. Just leave comments and messages with the ASE answering machine on (02) 9380 6945. Anonymously, if you're shy
One for the Boys?
Amused, I was, to hear my beloved Lightworks interface described last week as a "blokey" environment in which to edit! The reason? The toolbox, the shark and the screwdriver of course!
But then, wondered I, why wouldn't the alternative editing interface, replete as it is with "buttons" and "menus" and the odd "mixer", not fall into the "girly" category? Er, yes, quite. What?
Are you promoting yourself well? (2)
You could do worse than ASE member Kevin Hinchey, who somehow managed to get a colour photo of himself - and his family onto the kitchen table of every car owner in NSW!
Have a closer look at the colour insert "Levy Rebate" with your car rego papersl No, not the rural gent on the left, but the glowing family Tan. in the middle! Now if only Kevin was wearing an ASE tee-shirt at the time ...
"On Track and In Sync"
Lindy Monson reviews the seminar at the WOW film festival.
A seminar with editor Veronika jenet, sound editor Jane Paterson and composer Nerida Tyson-Chew was presented at the Women on Women Film Festival 1998, run by WIFT (NSW). Fiona Strain chaired the seminar and her introduction was printed last issue. The emphasis of the seminar was on communication, perception and creativity, as discussed in the way Veronika, jane and Nerida all approach their work.
Veronika advised that the editor talk with the director in order to reassure them the material is fulfilling their aims, for it is the editor who sees it first. Veronika asks the director to tell the story of the film in his or her own words, and to relay their feelings about it. She described the director's passion as highly important. When she can appreciate that she can start Cutting.
The more a person edits the better they get at it and Veronika remarked how from experience she had become so much better at doing assembly cuts. Even so, when she first views rushes she asks herself 'how will 1 make this work?'. Sometimes what appears to be a simple scene doesn't work as it doesn't have the right 'feel' to it and Veronika must re-work it until it does. She tends to lose track of time in this creative process and is often 'taking home flowers' to her partner and child in apology for being late!
It's confronting for the director to show, for example, an assembly cut to the investors, and it is important for the editor and director to form a close relationship. The two need to find a way to work together and not against each other. Guidance from the director is needed and it's important that the editor doesn't go ahead of the director or the journey won't work. Only when the director is lost will Veronika step into the lead.
In all, the editor has the ability to make below average rushes shine as a good film. The editor can see rushes without the bias of knowing things such as the time and effort needed to capture any given performance. The editor must also understand why every decision and cut affects the whole film. At progress screenings others can give feedback about emotions and their understanding of the film but the editor must know how to address them. If Veronika doesn't understand something in the film, she knows the audience will not either.
We saw a clip from Vacant Possession, edited by Veronika and written and directed by a former editor, Margot Nash. The elements of the film - dream and fantasy, including fantasy past and present in the same frame - were all precisely structured components with one thing leading into another. However when they edited together they were all too much. So material had to be thrown out. Margot was 'freaked out' by the assembly cut and later in the editing period Veronika pulled back and let her have the reins.
Veronika explained that there was a lot of emotion in both the scene and in individual shots, and not many cuts were made. In the clip we viewed a mood is created when Pamela Rabe's character Tessa opens the fridge in the family's old home. She then turns around and she's in the past, in the house with her father. During the editing process it was a challenge to communicate to the audience what is happening when the woman cradles herself as a girl and the distinction between past and present is not defined.
When she viewed the film recently before a print went to the Netherlands Veronika thought for a moment she would like to re-cut it and remove 6 minutes!
jane Paterson said it is most important for a sound editor to understand both the director’s story and the story created by the picture edit. In the spotting session she likes to talk about emotion and storytelling. Jane likes to see a screening about one week before she starts editing and does not find it useful to see an early version of work in progress. As sound editing is a creative process it’s good for her to bring a fresh approach to the job. jane will of course come up with ideas and contributions to sound for which the director has not briefed the sound team and where possible she likes to use sounds she records herself.
For Jane, technologies are only tools and won’t make a person into a better editor. She says to’remember it’s just gear and anyone can learn how to use it’. With new technology people are expected to work quicker but it hasn’t hastened thinking time. It’s not acknowledged that the film needs time to ’breath’ and consequently it’s a false economy to think a job can be done quicker.
Digital technology does mean the sound editor can try out options rather than sit and calculate the options, then cut. It does not make the sound editing process faster. Although directors sometimes now ask for more options to be present in the mix jane said that it depends on the budget, ie. the time allowed in the mix to try out the options that have been laid down.
Veronika added that cuts made on film are highly considered, the editor knowing why a certain cut was made. In her view the downside of editing on AVID is that because the technology allows it, the work can be fine cut too much and too soon. For all the women, it is critical to think, absorb the film and its problems, to plan and to be able to tell the story using appropriate rhythm and mood. It’s important too for both the editor and sound editor to attend the mix as a definite part of the creative process.
We then looked at Oscar’s drowning scene from Oscar and Lucinda . jane demonstrated how well the sound effects she laid work together with the orchestral music. Even now, when jane sees the film she doesn’t always know immediately which sound she is hearing. When she got the film there were temp tracks for this scene and it was left to her to do a lot with sound. As a theme for each character throughout the film, jane had chosen glass for Lucinda and water for Oscar. Water is what he fears most and in the end it kills him. As the floating glass church cracks and sinks, the film includes a richness and variety of water sounds, as well as the sound of glass cracking and falling, and cuts to and from the serenity of the surrounding landscape.
Nerida Tyson-Chew reads the script before signing the contract for a job and also doesn’t want to see interim cuts - the final cut gives her the emotional reaction to a film. Nerida affirmed the importance of communication and the director’s brief. With it, she takes notes for days on scenes and their undercurrents. She also heeds the director’s perception of which instruments suit a particular character.
For her, the role of music in dramatic film is to enhance performance and pick up on the rhythms of the editing. Music can catch the emotional shifts within a scene, dramatically change a performance, or even do something not seen on screen.
Through technology, Nerida can preview what the orchestra will sound like but this is just the start - she then must notate the score for each instrument in the orchestra. Eventually too through a computer program all the beats for all the scenes are shown visually and simultaneously with a video of the film. The composer must do mathematical calculations to have a musical beat fall on a chosen shot or to locate a swelling of music to a precise spot in, say, a close-up.
In the recording studio some electronic music pieces are prerecorded. Then there is a run through for each performer to get a feel for their part followed by playing the piece to picture. One of the recording engineer’s tasks is to break sound down for delivery to left, right, centre and surround.
For Nerida trust is important. For example, when recording she is not hearing the dialogue and a new producer or director may find this disorienting. As composers don’t get finished dialogue such as ADR or voice over to work with, what Nerida writes to in respect of emotional tone can be different to what appears in the finished film. A film can become quite different at the mix when eg. different voices are used. Other late changes now occur when computer-generated images or animation are added to finish a film after the music is written. Composing was done to rough line drawings for Fern Gully Ir .
The producer’s budget is also important. If a temp music track is used in editing, it is best to involve the composer of the final music as lots of the composer’s creative decisions are based on the budget of the film. For example, if the temp track on a low-budget production involves music played by a full orchestra the composer cannot hire the number of musicians needed to match and interpret that.
During the making of Hotel Sorrento the director wanted a chamber orchestra sound and needed music early for the investors screening. We viewed the scene where the three sisters are talking on the pier about how they relate and the death of their father and it’s impact on his grandson. The emotional temperature and tone within the scene needed to be many things at once. Nerida read out her brief, which was complex as it included potentially contradictory emotional states such as sad, tragic, not too heavy and indeed, at the end, light!
This superb seminar was sponsored by the AFTRS Industry Training Fund for Women. The preparation and presentation by Fiona, Veronika, Jane and Nerida truly made a cohesive, comprehensive and informative session at the festival.
George Lucas at the AFTRS
George Lucas came out to the AFTRS & gave a privileged few a chance to ask him about his career and the Films he is to make at the Fox studios over the next few years. These will be the long awaited parts two and three of the "Prequels" explaining the background to the first Star Wars series. He suggested that the films would take about 6 years to complete as he tends to spend three years on each production.
George seems to be the ideal director. A very likeable down to earth type of man who is loyal to his crew. He believes that the only important thing in a film is the story. When questioned about what it takes to become a successful film-maker he suggested all the usual qualities of endurance, dedication, a good idea and "just go out & do it". But he also suggested that the only things an audience wants is to feel an emotion and be satisfied with the story. They want to laugh, cry or be on the edge of the seats. On the top of that you can lay the intellectual layers , but without the emotional side taking precedent, "you don't have the ticket price". Of course this is where the Editors role comes in to play because that is our job, to build those emotions and play them with credibility.
Unfortunately not a lot of us are going to benefit from working on his productions as he said that he will be bringing his whole "Editorial" department with him to work on the Star Wars Prequels.
He discussed his friendship with Akira Kurasawa, mentioning how amazing he was because even at 70 years of age he would go out and direct each day , then go back to the cutting room and edit the previous days rushes before going home to sleep. George doesn't have the stamina to do that, but appreciates the benefit of the Editors craft. He did mention though, the first Star Wars film he had to fire the Editor because the Editor was not playing the emotions at the same level that George needed. George went and cut a couple of scenes and compared them to the Editor's cut and realised that each edit was about 16 frames off his. He believes that when hiring a crew that compatibility is the key, and he looks for a crew that can not only do the job, but that are able to understand each others ideas, craft and responsibilities, convey information without dispute, often across great distances.
To help ensure that the crew are all understanding his intentions he brings them on as early into the production as possible. For example he mentioned that he brings his sound designer on at the time he is writing the script, because those sound ideas are going to be integral to the story. His current sound designer on the first Prequel will have been on the production for two years already. He believes also that time is beneficial to the production. He would prefer to have one sound crew working an a production for thirty weeks rather than 6 crews working for 10 weeks.
There was some discussion on digital technology and the role of video servers. The two Prequels being produced here will be done totally digitally. They will only go to film in the final print run stage. Because of the increasing use of digital technology in film-making generally, George believes that the only department that will be affected significantly is Cinematography, as they will need to learn to light differently for this medium. Because Geeorge is constantly in different parts of the globe, the use of digital transfer is important, as he constantly views edit changes that are "sent down the line" from the States. No changes go ahead without his approval, but he can approve from wherever he happens to be at the time.
George discussed the use of Digital non-linear technology, and how useful it is to help make a cut work. He discussed how the actor will often finish a line on with a blink, which is also the point where the Editor wishes to cut. With the Avid "he" will just remove the blink and then is free to do the cut where it feels best. He also discussed the fact that you may have a shot with two actors in it. Both actors deliver the right performance, but not at the right time. With the Avid he can split the screen, adjust one actor forward or backwards, then rejoin the shot with its new perfect timing.
Video storyboarding is very much part of the communication process, where every animated piece is created digitally on low end Macs. They are created to look very much like they will be in the final film so that they can be shot with the correct action, entrances and exits, speed and size, shot for shot. The final master shots are then created with only six frame handles so that they slip in with very minor adjustment.
He also discussed the eventual merging of picture and sound technology, so that these crews will be able to be cut concurrently. This is a development that he hopes will come from Avid in the next few years (with a bit of prodding).
However, the over-riding message through the whole session was that whatever the production, the medium, and the tools are not the issue, it is the story that counts.
And Cassandra Cried ...
The First Assembly Forum in Melbourne
by Cindy Clarkson
On a sultry Saturday over seventy producers and a diverse crowd of post-production people gathered to participate in THE 1ST ASSEMBLY. For four and a half hours, with two panels, the struggle of post- production was discussed. Sometimes heated but always with humour. My background is working in the low to no budget field so to hear the speakers and audience confirm there is trouble out there was no surprise. I’m not going to report the discussion word for word. There will be a transcript made at some point.
For me the most interesting part of the day was listening to either Daniel Scharf or Jane Scott talk about the producing side of things. Both are sympathetic to the craft of film making which was heartening but of course the reality is there are those producers who see the bottom line and that’s it. Creativity versus the titan - the budget. I didn’t realise but the completion bond companies ensure that a percentage of the funded films budget is quarantined for post-production. Daniel did mention that producers can and do find creative ways to gain access to the money while still shooting. Just as every editor knows there are ways to present things so the edit does or doesn’t get approved. Yeah we’re all capable of manipulation.
A creature that has found more relevance in this time of tight time lines, fraught technology possibilities, and decreasing budgets is the Post-Production Supervisor. There was some time spent on the subject of supervisors. Both Jane and especially Daniel felt it was of benefit to have someone as a post production advisor/supervisor from the application stage of the film. No argument there. In Jill Bilcock’s observation there are two types of post supervisors. The one that looks as though they’re going to have a heart attack every time someone from post production opens their mouth; or the other who is aware of the budget, but is also sympathetic to the creative desires and needs of the editor and tries to balance the two.
No guessing as to which is the preferred individual in the room.
There are fabulous supervisors out there who know their stuff.
But in television there appears to be a reoccurring problem where some people have been given the responsibility with little or no knowledge of the myriad of post production paths. It has created unnecessary headaches and friction for the editing staff involved. Television constraints; one guess's lack of sympathy to the craft of editing; and an inflexibility to accommodate the true involvement of the editor, which should be from the beginning to the end of the programme, leaves these inexperienced people making ill informed creative decisions. That can't be good for the quality of the project.
The struggle with gaining respect and understanding of up and coming producers and directors was an issue that was pinpointed to education. It has been to my immense frustration the lack of time spent on post-production at VCA. Having cut student films there for three years I can say that putting the hard word on this film school isn't going to change
much. The reality is the school has over forty students a year making a film and all of them are required to write, shoot and post within a framework otherwise no one would finish. VCA as time has progressed has had less funds to spend on anything. It was only through the donation by the Kennet government that the school was able to make the leap into nonlinear-post. Otherwise students would be still cutting and mixing on sprockets. In my view not a bad idea. It was disconcerting for me to hear recently from someone within a funding body that some young directors like the idea of using nonlinear systems so that they can work on the cut after the editor has left. I still shudder. Educating young filmmakers is a constant battle but as long as you respect each other and are honest problems can be dealt with amicably. So laying blame at the schools is fine but they don't have the time to focus on the finer points of etiquette in the editing room. Perhaps the ASE can approach the schools with a plan that involves little or no outlay of funds and some time from members to help rectify the situation. Small steps.
One comment that has stuck in my head is that features are fine but television is suffering. From the discussion there is a real problem in television and a genuine need to relocate the editor at the head of post-production rather than being employed only for the picture cut. But I disagree that features are fine. Certainly the funded features are okay but if you talk to some senior sound editors that certainly isn't true from their experience. As I mentioned I work in the low/no budget area. When it comes to features it is a constant struggle. Since Love and Other Catastrophes there has been an enthusiastic spate of self financed features. I've been fortunate enough to work on those that have obtained funding with completion of the fine cut. But I am aware there are others out there still waiting for a guardian angel to chaperon the film onto the big screen. Its tough. Usually the editor isn't brought onboard until after the shoot and somehow most productions get onto a nonlinear system. This does create problems for the facilities that have generously given the projects access to their Aladdin's Cave. Equipment - especially hard drives are tied up, wear and tear of general use occurs, the inevitable interruptions due to lack of knowledge or understanding of the systems, power, telephones etc. Sure the facilities know what their getting into but it doesn't create a lot money for them. The thing that worries me the most is that the more independent features that are financed through the filmmakers ingenuity and then paid for by funding bodies may lead to the funding bodies manoeuvring monies to paying around a half a million at the end rather than putting up the 1.5 to 2 million at the beginning of the project. Worrying because I know no one is getting paid properly for the time and energy put into the film.
There was little discussion about tv commercials or corporate work which was somewhat surprising considering the amount of people who are involved in that side of the industry sitting in the audience. There was mention of the situation where some editors in corporates were expected to cut, create graphics, sound mix, and online. Fine if there is the time but generally speaking there isn't and everything is a rush. Frustrating for the editor. Jill said something that is so true. Be assertive. If you don't ask you have no chance to change the circumstances. If you think you need something or that the project could be done a better way then say it or ask for it. Producers and directors aren't mind readers. Communication is the key.>From both sides.
Pamela Hammond from AAV/digital pictures to me gave the most valuable piece of advice. Send the production office daily report sheets informing them of how much time was spent on stuff, how much money is owed and what materials were used including items done that weren't covered by the budget. Over time she has seen the same producers adjust their budgets to include all items. There are of course those who will always query whether everything quoted for is absolutely necessary. As Daniel said most producers get a fright when they see the cost of post production. Maybe as a post production crew daily report sheets are excessive but weekly isn't. Done in such a way so it's not seen as a complaint but rather a constructive exercise in keeping the producer up to date with what's going on. Producers rarely visit the edit suite so they don't realise the time and effort taken to get a film/documentary/corporate to D Day. Delivery Day.
There was a huge range of topics touched on over the day. Realistically the conference could have gone on for a week and there still would have been stuff to talk about. Below is the list of recommendations that came out the forum that will be forwarded to other bodies like SPAA, ASDA, various funding bodies and film schools. If you feel it should be added to contact the ASE and tell them. The ASE can only act on issues if they're brought to their attention.
A huge thanks to the panellists for giving up their time Mark Atkin, Jill Bilcock, Glenn Newnham, Daniel Scharf and Jane Scott. Thanks also to our sponsors AAV/digital pictures, the Atlab Group, Tektronix and SPAA. A big general thanks to the invited guests and audience whose participation was vital. Thanks must also go to Carolyn Robinson at SPAA, ASDA and the VCA for their help. And I can't forget to acknowledge the hours of work done by a dedicated team to get The 1ST ASSEMBLY off the ground - Sophie Meyrick, Claire Fisher, Michael Church, Tim Lewis, Jill Rice, Martin Fox and Cliff Hayes. Damn fine effort guys!
Like Cassandra the ASE has been voicing its concern for some time now, but overall no action has been taken and the Trojan horse - non linear editing- has turned out to be more than a gift. This isn't about the benefits or drawbacks of nonlinear editing. Everyone knows its here to stay. This is about being realistic about the wonder of nonlinear and reinstating editing back into the view as an art form; not an exercise in knowing which buttons to push. Having this forum has started a lot of conversations but it must go further. Photocopy the articles on the forum, put them on notice boards, place them in in-trays, use them as a part of presentations, tattoo it on your chest if you'll think it'll be read. The only way things can start to move in the right direction is by gaining the attention of those who can help make the changes because the post production population needs the support and understanding of producers, directors, and investors.
Otherwise we only have ourselves to blame because we didn't take the opportunity to make our concerns visible.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM 1ST ASSEMBLY FORUM
Commitment to on going training/education in post production and new technologies by all involved personnel including producers, directors, editors, assistant editors and post production supervisors.
Commitment by editors to encourage on the job training for assistant editors as well as training in all areas of post production.
The ASE to negotiate for assistant editor apprenticeship schemes, especially in the field of documentaries, and to seek encouragement from producers and directors to support such schemes.
Editors to be consulted in pre-production about their requirements and booked through to the end of post production.
Support new editors in first cutting jobs by allowing directors the right to have the editor of their choice and senior editors the ability to assist through a creative mentorship scheme.
The role of Post Production Supervisor be clearly defined for each production.
The employment of Post Production Supervisors where budgets allow.
Editors encouraged to understand post production pathways of each individual job (as each job is so different) through good communication with post production supervisor.
The ASE to commit to promoting the profile of post production through articles in publications.
Continued liaison between ASE, SPAA, ASDA and other guilds and associations with the formation of a working group to continue the dialogue and follow up the recommendations of this forum.
First Screen Sound Awards - a triumph!
Sydney, 22nd October 1998
Australian Screen Sound Guild host inaugural peer awards
“Post sound is the last chance you have to get the picture right” said film producer David Hannay, before announcing two lifetime achievement awards.
Ron Purvis and Peter Fenton then took the stage to a standing ovation,and the night took a turn for the funnier, mixed with tears from some inthe audience. “These guys put up with a lot of those of us who were major substance abusers” joked Hannay.
“I’ve taken 44 years working to get up here”said Ron, “so I guess a few more minutes won’t hurt! We were born at the perfect time for all this, and to see the rebirth now ofthe Australian film industry”.
Ron Purvis went on to captivate the audience with some memories and memorable lines.
“We’ve had to mix without going backwards or even stopping!” On technology: “I got into trouble when valves got nine pins......”
“Many names are etched in the pathway towards tonight” he announced, and then quipped that lifetime achievement awards are usually given posthumously. Peter Fenton, usually the talker, stood aside struck for words at Ron’s eloquence.
Earlier, actors Jay Laga’aia and Steve Bisley had set the scene with memories of particular sound recordists. “Can you please move your sound carts, you’re blocking the car park” joked Jay.
Steve Bisley recalled a scene where a recordist had shut himself in the boot of a Torana SLR 5000 with an ockie strap over the catch and through his mouth holding the lid down. He had two microphones sticking out the back to record the exhaust tones as the car careened about.
Bisley recollected a famous moment when a script writer (who possibly hates actors) presented him with a seven page monologue, to be read straight through in one take. The recordist on location sidled up just prior and said: “There’s a tram track over there, and if we get a tram through this, we’re fucked!”
Awards for Television sound were handed out, with each person responsible for a winning project being handed an award. Later, five Feature Film awards were similarly presented by Margaret Pomeranz.
The Australian Screen Sound Guild ran the awards, their first. Members undertook a laborious voting procedure. “The jurors voted impartially” stated president Ross Linton. The audience were certainly very happy with the probity of proceedings, and no sore losers were detected.
Extensive sponsorships assisted staging the awards, which still ran a slight loss as these events do. Some 20 plus sponsors tipped in money, services and equipment.
The night proved that screen sound comprises a fraternity of fantastic people, working in a section of the audio industry which is enjoying boom days.
It was the first time the various screen sound crafts have truly come together. The roaring of laughter continued past dawn as the Sebel bar soldiered into the next morning. Not too many projects were mixed that day.
1998 Screen Sound Awards: TheWinners!
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Sound in a Television Documentary are: Predrag Malesev, Rob Beck and Tony Clunes - Recordists; Philip Purcell - Editor and Mixer; for RPA Episode 98/2 - TCN Nine.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Sound in a Television Lifestyle Program are: Serge Lacroix - Editor and Mixer; Shaun Cefai -Recordist; for Who Dares Wins “Jet Fighter” - Mason Brant.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Sound in a Television Drama are: Grant Shepherd - Recordist; Todd Kirkness and Steven Jackson -Vaughan - Boom Operators; PeterHall and Jon Hemming - Dialogue Editors; Ian Neilson and Justine Angus - FX Editors; Ian Donato - Foley Recordist; Sonia Bible - Foley Artist; Sasha Madon and Julie Sommerfeldt - Assistant Editors; Peter Purcell - Mixer; David Hemming and Peter Best - Music Engineers; for Wildside Episodes 35 & 36 - Gannon Jenkins TV.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Sound in a Telemovie are:Ross Linton - Recordist; Robert Cutcher - Boom Operator; Dino Giacomin and Mark Franken - Supervisors/ADR; Gavin Myers and Stephen Witherow - Dialogue Editors; Fabian Sanjurjo - FX Editor; Tracey Grimshaw - Foley Artist; Rory Martin - Assistant Editor; Robert Sullivan - Mixer; Karl Akers, Kim Lord and Chris White - Music Engineers; for Kings in Grass Castles - Baron Entertainment/Crannog.
FEATURE FILM CATEGORY
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Achievement in DialogueEditing for a Feature Film are: Libby Villa, Wayne Pashley and Rick Lislefor Oscar & Lucinda.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Achievement in Sound Design &FX Editing for a Feature Film are: John Patterson and Craig Butters forRadiance.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Achievement in Foley for aFeature Film are: Les Fiddess - Foley Artist; Rob Sullivan and Julie Pearce- Foley Engineers; for Paws.
The 1998 Screen Sound Awards Winners for Best Achievement in Mixing for aFeature Film are Gethin Creagh and Martin Oswin; for Oscar & Lucinda.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Peter Fenton crossed paths with Ron Purvis at Supreme Sound in Paddington in 1958. They then worked together on and off, over 35 years. Peter was chief mixer on Paradise Road, Lightning Jack and countless movies. He has worked with many contemporaries and jokes that he isn't sure if he taught them much more than how to drink, swear - and eat Chinese food.