Planting ideas through images; the making of a documentary.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reel Time

I was reading an interview with a filmmaker yesterday who said documentaries differ from fiction in that, not only do you have no script, you have to wait for the story to happen in real time.

Real time is exactly what I was wrestling with, the other day.

Early video artists once made a point of rejecting the constant cutting, montage, the manipulation of a viewer's experience that has come to characterize television and Hollywood narratives. Andy Warhol's six hour meditation on the face of a sleeping lover is the film of that sort that comes to mind. As you might guess, these films were easily forgettable, exercises in boredom. Real time still inspires artists, but, mostly as a place to start from.

We like our time collapsed, like a telescope. It's one of the pleasures of film, to view experience from afar, see more of it in a glance, than when we were immersed in it.

So a documentary, these days is all about cutting up time and reorganizing it, putting events and statements in an own order, the logic of which follows the heart, or sets up an argument, or makes sense to you in some way you can't explain.

Dirty Work, unlike previous documentaries I've edited, has a clear sequence of events to be followed. It's amazing to me how much time I spend cutting up real time to create the illusion of it, instead.

if the film works, all this intricate puzzle piecing to maintain continuity will embed the viewer in the story, so that we are swept up by the lives and challenges happening before our eyes, and see them in a larger context.

Is this organic editing? Or merely the illusion of it? Only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. I find it's amazing how much honesty comes from just sorting out the events of the past and putting them in the order in which they occurred. I think its called "real" time for a reason!