Focus On – Nicole LaMacchia on “The Straits”
The Straits has strong scripts, great cast, exotic locations. How did you enhance these elements in the edit?
I think whenever you have strong elements across all departments you need to be equally as good in your own area of expertise. To enhance these elements I just needed to cut well - pacing, shot and take selection then work closely with the director to help tell the story.
Cutting The Straits for a non commercial station means you don't have commercial breaks to interrupt the emotional flow of the storyline. How does this affect the way you work with the story?
This does not affect the way I work; it makes it a bit easier. On commercial network dramas I edit with no commercial breaks ( they are marked in my sequence).I am always watching the cut through as a complete episode with no breaks, of course the breaks are kept in mind and moulded to emphasise a break to get the viewers back. On an ABC drama it means one less thing to worry about when it comes to screenings.
Describe your working relationship with director Peter Andrikidis.
Thanks to Peter and the late Barb Bedford I was given the opportunity to cut one episode of the series GP, with the view that if it worked out I would get to do more...it worked out and I have been working very regularly with Peter over the last 16 to 17 years.
Over the years I believe we have developed a very good and efficient way of working. Peter shoots, I assemble, then at the end of each week I send cut scenes to him and notes are then given. I try to do these notes over the following week and if I don’t get to some of these at least it gives me an idea of his feelings towards my cut; good, bad, or “what the hell were you thinking”. This means in the fine cut we have already done a rough first pass on most scenes. Given that we generally don’t have a lot of director cutting time it gives us a bit of a head start. I completely trust in Peter’s instincts when it comes to telling a story and this truly makes my job easier.
Having watched the rushes how do you like to work from assembly to directors cut?
I must admit in the assembly process I am a little impatient to see the scene cut, having read the script and watched the rushes I want to see it on tele. I keep up with the shoot, what they shoot in a day I edit. I have a bin called CUT SCENES and will check which scene I am coming from or to but do not join scenes up until it is complete. I then make a CUT 1 bin and join the ep together and check each transition. This is then broken down into an ASSEMBLIES bin with 6 segs of about 10-12 mins each, this is what I work from. After every pass through the ep I rejoin the segs and call it CUT 2, 3, 4 etc. Working in small segs is a lot more manageable than a 50-60 minute sequence. I never edit with music or put music onto scenes; dialogue, action or montage. I love the fine cut time witling away and seeing the story get more and more honed then finally adding music (temp score), if all is going well this should only take a few hours and if this pacing is right with the cut the music should fit nicely. I try to watch the ep every morning to get a better sense of story, pace and structure and tweak cuts I need to fix, add more sound effects, do small grades on odd shots etc. – general housekeeping stuff that adds to the overall story.
What was your favourite experience on the film?
My favourite experience on The Straits was working in a team with Nick Holmes, Deb Peart, John Cole, Eliot Knapman, Harry Edwards and with Peter Andrikidis.