I spend time cutting the audio down to feasibly practically amount to work with for the animatic. Below is a link to the edit passes I made, looking to take relevant moments and condensing them without disrupting the flow or authenticity of the original interview:
In the 3rd edit, I managed to cut 22mins down to 3mins, allowing us to work on the animatic. As a team, getting to that 3mins required a fair discussion to understand the most appropriate way to tell the story in a linear fashion that captured the emotion of Attracta. So in a study room, we listened to the 8min cut and starts to list the narrative “scenes” so that we could structure the audio coherently. In fact, we very much called The Writer’s Journey to action in order to understand how our raw, natural conversation actually had a narrative flow to it.
Once we diligently decided to cut Kerry and the mask moment due to length, irrelevance and also how the mask sequence in which Attracta’s sons scared Zara by wearing masks could be misconstrued as insensitive due to the lack of context. In actuality, that ‘lack of context’ is intellectually fitting to the piece because it makes the story feel more personal and allow an outsider to engage from a third person perspective.
After which, we cut down the interview to 6 “scenes”:
- Getting Zara
- Playing with her
- Running away
- Feeling safe with her
- A final fond memory
As a result of our understanding of the Hero’s Journey, we have a story with an act structure. With the 3mins cut, I was then able to construct an accurate representation of the audience’s emotional beats in accordance to the audio’s delivery. This was driven by the initial challenge of achieving emotional response. The audio ALREADY works without imagery.
We now have a clear understanding of how the film’s feeling and emotional impact comes across. We start by building an image, then there is a dip when she explains the dog wasn’t brave. Then the incline shows a funny moment of the dog running away and playing. Maintains relaxing tone – feeling safe with dog. Then there’s a sudden incline on the dog’s legs going but it starts to dissipate in respect of the tragic moment – should be incredibly minimal and dramatically absent. Then we inspire a hopeful conclusion by calling back to an earlier moment where the dog was just excited to be in company.
The ‘scale of information‘ then plays into our innovative challenge, that is, driving the pace and components of the emotion using visual information. At our saddest extremity (2-2.15mins), the visuals onscreen are at their lowest and minimal form so that the audience are focused on Attracta’s voice that carries the moment with pure absence. When she’s at her happiest or bridging into a dramatic moment (1.30mins), we then present a move vivid portrayal of her memories.
In all, what we have achieved artistically through the dialogue discussion and the implementation of Vogler is that we couldn’t tell a story that builds emotionally without compromising the purity and authenticity in Attracta’s interview. What became clear by furthering my dissertation’s inquiry was how emotion should be achieved through purity or “sobriety” (Nichols, 1991, pg. 3-4), in other words, without the intervention of artificial images or sound (Smaill, 2010). With these readings in mind, it was clear that Attracta’s response to our questions (based on research methodology) successfully allowed us a documented recording that was faithful to both the validity of the subject matter and the our practices thus far.
We ended up having another important meeting for the animatic, which resulted in a further 45secs worth of cut audio. As we started to piece together the story’s delivery, we decided to compromise a very crucial emotional moment in the audio because we believed that it didn’t service the story. It was a trigger for Jess’ and we felt that ethically it may have been inappropriate to use it simply because there was a clear sadness exhibited. As such, we found a more subtle and intellectually fitting conclusion to the death scene and brings the tone of the story down to something minimalist and reflective.
In terms of production management, what was also important was obtaining an efficient and practical audio sample that we could work within to avoid having too much or too little, which would cause production and/or narrative problems respectively.
Nichols, B. (1991) Representing Reality. Bloomington: Indiana
Smaill, B. (2010) The Documentary: Politics, Emotion, Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Vogler, C. (2007) The Writer’s Journey: mystic structure for writers. London: Pan