Monday, March 3, 2014

Cinematic Life Lessons: Act 2

Hard learned lessons in the editing room

Everything matters.
This used to by my credo.
It’s 3 AM.
My mother stumbles up the stairs.
Kate, why are you still up? She asks me with her eyes closed.

I am lying on the floor in a sea of notebook paper, staring at glow-in-the-dark stars stickered to the ceiling.

You have to decide what is the most important task and focus on that, she instructs.

Everything’s important,  I wail. I need to practice my trombone, make a mask, study for a math test, finish my essay on Romeo and Juliet and build a strand of DNA out of toothpicks and gumdrops…all before dawn.

You need to prioritize, she warns and shuffles off into shadows cast by a nightlight.

Prioritize. I hate the word, as I hate Hell, all Montagues, and thee--not you, Mom.

I used to think that to prioritize was to be defeated. It meant that something would be done well and something would be done poorly, and I just couldn’t accept that.

It was not until recently when I was editing Miracle Maker, that I began to come around.

I was meeting with Abigail Severance (my mentor from CalArts) about a cut of the film.
Her advice was simple and profound.
This is Francisco’s story. The emphasis should be on him.
This was an artistic concept I had never really embraced and I began to explore it.

In order to emphasize Francisco I would need to de-emphasize the other elements.
In other words, I would need to prioritize Francisco’s footage and strip away dialogue, characters, and plot points that might be distracting from him.
Suddenly the concept made sense.
Story elements exist in relation to each other. If everything is equally interesting then nothing stands out.
Emphasis shows us where to look.
Emphasis helps us make sense of the sentence.
Emphasis tells us what is important.

Schooled, once again by Miracle Maker.
Prioritizing isn’t about doing one thing well at the expense of something else. It’s about knowing what matters.

Understanding emphasis in art has helped me figure out how to prioritize in life.

And so I must end it here.

Abruptly and a little bit sloppy.

After all, this blog post is not as important as picture-locking Miracle Maker or having lunch with Paco.