Editing Analysis: Triumph of the Unusable

When what goes wrong goes right in filmmaking.
conrad_birdie_smConrad Birdie, THS 1979

At first, it felt like trying to make a soufflé with tofu. (sorry, vegans)

A few months ago, my charming music impresario friend
Elizabeth Dworkin contacted me about pitching in for an upcoming event at our Alma Mater in New Jersey, Tenafly High School. “What’s it for?” I asked. “To raise money to refurbish the theater auditorium and to support the arts program, of course,” she replied. How could I refuse? She told me a couple of Tenafly alums in the biz would record a little video that I could edit into a “trailer” for the event. I was poised to receive some glorious, clean HD video.

It turns out that
Wally Marzano-Lesnevich (you’ll love his comic delivery) had to shoot the piece right on his computer, and it looked, well…pretty scratchy. Could he re-do it, I asked? Nada. Harumph. I showed the footage to my girlfriend and moaned, “How can we excite people with footage that looks like fugitives on a surveillance camera?” I’ve encountered these editor’s conundrums many times, so I just threw up my hands and slept on it. Much to my glee, the next morning a little voice suggested, “Ok, go with it. Make the fuzzy video appear to have been done on purpose!” From there, it was just a creative chuckle. It’s one of those things that makes storytelling video editing such a joy. I didn’t need to somehow spit polish the footage. A shift of context can make just about anything workable and relevant.

Ever been in a similar creative situation? Please share your comments below.

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