This Guy Edits
“This Guy Edits” is a Youtube channel devoted to the art and science of editing video.
A chapter in Cutting Rhythms describes what Pearlman calls “on-screen drafting”. Several lauded directors including Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas have said that the editor writes the last draft of the script.
This led Pearlman to wonder if involving the editor before the last step of filmmaking might help produce a better film. Pearlman tested this hypothesis in her own film.
Film it twice?
To do this, Pearlman filmed a prototype film – an inexpensive draft film – but a film, not a storyboard, not a written script. This allows her team to review the work as a film and cast an editor’s eye on the work.
This departs from the usually very linear process of producing a film, which starts with script, then production, then editing. This reflects the spirit of Design Thinking, because it produces a better product by committing to a prototype in advance of final production and involves all key participants early on when script and production decisions can be changed without great expense or rework.
Yes, this has similarities with storyboard and animatics (animated storyboards) but the key difference is that while these instruments elaborate the script before filming, they are usually a step in a linear chain: script, then storyboard, then production, then editing.
What Pearlman is doing is producing a prototype film which has almost all the characteristics of the intended result but at low cost, permitting at least one of the feedback loops that makes Design Thinking so powerful.
Also fascinating is the way today’s inexpensive video production makes producing a prototype feasible. Yes, the actors and the sets are still engaged and this could also be an enormous expense, but the goal is to avoid the burden of perfection in a linear process. Time can be saved for cast, crew and locations by having the freedom to “fail fast” on the prototype and then film with greater confidence in the final production.
Cinema has always had one foot in art and the other in industrial processes. This example shows that, like so many other industrial processes, filmmaking can be informed by Design Thinking. It also shows that where previously the cost of prototyping may have been prohibitive, today’s digital technologies offer new possibilities.