Friday, September 15, 2006

Bittersweet editing experience: HUGE changes are being made to Date Number One :: Got $s for the 1st 1000 DVDs

I dig the technical "flaws" in movies such as Godard's Breathless & Moritsugu's Scumrock, but many of my important peers in the indie film biz do not & certainly not many of the US audience members who I want to make happy with my movie. So, as painful as it is, major changes are being made to Date Number One. So, the version of the movie that will be screened on 10/5 will be much more "slick" & much, much less "rough", and will be shorter - perhaps by as much as 10 minutes. Since the movie represents not just my dreams/wishes/ambitions but the dreams of investors & actors & other collaborators AND more importantly, there are certain basic audience expectations (including reviewer expectations) that must be met in order to get a certain number of ticket & DVD sales in the US at this point in time, sacrifices are being made.

The new version of Date Number One will not have the scenes w/ the iris problem in Story 2 (where the image brightness fluctuates) - thus altering the story significantly, in my opinion.
But the new story that emerges is just as interesting, but perhaps less innocent.

Also, jarring jumpcuts are being taken away - there was one in Story 1 & one in Story 5, those will be gone. "Good" jump cuts remain, most are in Story 2.

Couple of shots that have somewhat erratic camera moves remain because there are no other shots to replace those with & those moments are essential to the stories, cannot be cut out. The remaining camera work is however not as "difficult" as it was in certain moments in another '06 ultra-low budget movie - The Puffy Chair. So I do not feel very bad about allowing certain audiences to experience the movie while the movie retains some "rough"-ness in the camera work department. Or, as an audience member, I did not feel terribly alienated from the good stuff in Puffy/the overall movie (looking forward to seeing it again) because of several moments where the camera work was rough - so the same could happen with future DNO audiences.

Is it cool to make huge changes to a movie after its been seen by a significant number of people (in the case of Date Number One, about 400 so far) & important reviewers? That's up to each director to decide. But, Cassavetes did it with Shadows, and apparently the second version of the movie - made one or two years after the original version - is much better according to most reviewers & fans. So, yeah, it is entirely possible that big changes are OK even after a significant number of people have seen a version/the original version of the movie.

Sound & music are being completely re-worked for the new version of Date Number One. The original version was a very Dogme 95 type approach - just allow the best quality location sound, no need to build dozens of tracks to make the soundscape deep & busy. But, the virtue of having a very designed sound is that it can improve the image/the experience of the image in the mind of the viewer & the overall reaction to the movie (something I learned/was reminded about at Kelley Baker's sound design workshop earlier this year). So, I am looking at Amelie & Drugstore Cowboy as models for sound & music use. Major changes are being made to the sound of DNO (more tracks, using cleaner location sound, pulling good audio from a take with bad images & marrying that good audio with good images), and many more music tracks are being added.

Ultimately, the new changes, although having to make them makes me sad, will allow me to push the movie to a wider US audience with confidence - knowing that there aren't many technical "problems" that would make watching the movie an unpleasant experience to them.
Basically, as the distributor, I want my customers to end up with a product that they are happy with.

All the reviewers who have written about the earlier version of the flick - including Chuck Tryon, Jerry Brewington, David Hudson - will receive a DVD of the new version of the movie in early October. Perhaps they will check it out at some point & render a verdict as to the relative improvement or the lack of improvement in the movie, compared to the version they saw earlier.

Looking forward to showing the new version of the movie to the audience at the 10/5 Capital City Microcinema/Kensington Row Bookshop screening.

OTHER MAJOR NEWS: Got $s for DVDs!

One of my investors has come up with the money to make 1000 retail DVDs of Date Number One (cost: around $1300). So, as planned, the film (the new & improved version) will be available for sale, on DVD, in late September/early October.

That's the latest, talk to you soon.

- Sujewa
ps: more screenings coming in rest of '06, after 10/5, & in '07. will announce dates & times in the coming weeks.

4 comments:

Jacky Treehorn said...

Nice move Sujewa, very honest and forthright. A filmmaker is an autuer indeed, but he/she also promote thier work to others. DNO is only going to be that much better. Besides, it 's cool to have serveral cuts of a work!

Congrats on the 1000 pressing of DNO.

Cheers!

JB

The Sujewa said...

Thanks JB, & thanks for your continuing support & attention to Date Number One - having a community of interested fellow filmmakers/reviewers is very important to making movies (at least to me).

Yeah, looking forward to showing you the new cut of the film.

Talk to ya soon!

- Sujewa

Brian Liloia said...

I am very curious to see your final film, as I have been keeping up (albeit, a bit on and off) with your site for a while now. I also appreciate your willingness to delve into great detail about the decisions you make about your project...

Something I have always wondered is, at what point can you ever call a film completely finished? It's such a hard thing to do...

The Sujewa said...

Hey Brian,

Thanks for checking out the blog.

W/ going into great detail, the point is to help demystefy (sp?) the indie filmmaking & distribution (on a certain low-budget scale) process so that more people get a chance to make movies/more people find an entry point into the film industry & so that perhaps more excellent movies/filmmakers appear on the scene through the process.

Re: when to call it over & done w/ a film: for me, the looming 1000 retail DVDs deadline is a solid point to bring the film to a finish. I think once these final set of changes are done & the DVDs are out, I won't be changing the film anymore. So, mass duplication is a good point to put a stop to the work - at least for me.

Talk to you soon.

- Sujewa

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