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September 02, 2014
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Ups and downs


I have been waiting to find out if I was going to get this amazing editing mentorship with Walter Murch for the past five months. I found out that I was nominated in late 2011 for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. There was a very extensive application process that included multiple essays, a video, numerous copies of my work and assorted references.

I’m not sure how many people were nominated but I found out in March that I was one of four finalists. It was an amazing honor and also meant that I would be meeting Mr. Murch himself as he would make the final decision.

The meeting was amazing. It was just the two of us and we met in his editing room in New York. He told amazing stories, inspiring stories. He had seen my work and we spoke about that. We talked technical: the future of editing software, and he showed me his Final Cut sequence. I can’t say enough about how amazing it was.

Up until then, I had taken an emotional backseat approach to the whole thing. After the meeting, I really wanted him to choose me. I knew that I would learn tons from him.

A few weeks went by, during which I tried my best not to think about it. Then I was sitting at my desk thinking, I bet I find out today when my phone rang. I picked it up. It was my Rolex contact, a nice woman who had been my liaison through the whole process. “I have bad news,” she said. We talked for a little while longer but all I could think about was an intense desire to get off of the phone.

It was a bummer but the disappointment washed over me for a few days. I thought about it a lot. I tried not to get into why I had not been chosen. But naturally your mind goes there anyway.

The whole experience had been a positive one. Overwhelmingly so. And the disappointment made me much more thankful for the things that I do have in my life. It also gave a great deal of perspective to all of the positive things that have been happening for me over the past few year.

It reinvigorated me on my current project. I have been working on a documentary for the past year and I am just finally getting to a point where it is coming together. There is finally something to work with. I think that we have struck on the tone of the film. I feel like I am closer to knowing what that is now. It’s a good feeling.

The wall of my office is covered with different colored note cards outlining the story, reading left to right from top to bottom. It’s the way that I organize my thoughts. The story is too big to keep everything in my head all at once. Working back and forth between reordering and changing the cards on the wall and doing the same with my Final Cut Timeline. (I also have a new organizational trick or two up my sleeve from Mr. Murch.)

My cut is currently four hours long, and growing more and more every day. Hopefully when finished, this first real cut of the film will clock in around five hours. Then we can start working on cutting it down to 90 minutes.

We are still experimenting with shooting b-roll. We did a day of b-roll yesterday. (After I finish this column I will start implementing it into the cut.)

It was nice to be shooting again. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a set of any kind.

We ended our day up at the Katonah train station in Westchester. One of our characters may or may not have gotten onto a train from that station 30 years ago. It was the 10 p.m. and we were there shooting an actress get on a train and then not get on the train to show two conflicting version of the story. If it works, it will be a way for us to visually simplify a very confusing story.

The train pulled up and we got our shot, while waiting for the second train to pull in to get the variation. I took a moment; the night was cool and I sipped a hot coffee. The station was deserted. I felt the energy of this place and no matter how many times I have heard the scene described, there was something about being there that made me feel closer to this story.