Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Razzle Dazzle: Fame Through Movies, Chapter 6: The Takeaway

After a month of build-up, the chapter I cut for this series has finally been posted. Now, some of you have the answer to the question: Why the hell I was given producing credit on this series? I would prefer to let the piece speak for itself. Hopefully, everyone will engage with the ideas it presents, as I am very interested in the thoughts or discussion it may provoke. I just wanted to say a few words about what brought me here and the editing.

This started back in May when I cut my video essay on both "Bad Lieutenant" films, which received the attention of Matt Zoller Seitz. He e-mailed me and pitched the idea of cutting the final part of this series, which he, his brother Rich and Aaron Aradillas had been working on for awhile. Although he gave me the choice between this segment and the previous one, it became clear to both of us in our initial phone conversation that this segment was probably more suited to me. I must add that I still wonder how Matt made the leap from the "Bad Lieutenant" essay to this. Those who know me better than he does and my interests in both film and politics could see that this was right up my alley. As I kept telling Matt, I was confident I was the right person for this job. Also, what other editor would have seen about 90% of the movies and owned 2/3rds of them already on DVD including the great, but mostly obscure Canadian television series "The Newsroom"?

As you can now see, this segment is not only a stylistic departure from this series, but from most of Matt's previous essays. I cannot take credit for coming up with the idea, as the stylistic goals and the subject matter were provided to me. (Though, I do think back and laugh that Matt wanted me to think of the editing styles of films that I consider the most innovative of my lifetime like "JFK", "Nixon", "The Limey" and "All That Jazz". Talk about setting the bar high!) What made this such a great experience was that I was trusted to come up with how to do the piece on my own (thus, the writing credit I was given) with a list of 30+ films that all of us came up with, not to mention the nearly hundred news clips and commercials featured that I included. I cut this piece on Final Cut Pro at home just in time to celebrate the expanded definition of fair use for critical pieces. Doing this piece at home once again demonstrates that the filmmakers of the future will be doing post-production in their living rooms and bedrooms.

As a professional editor who rarely gets to cut anything interesting or artistic in his paying gigs, I can say that I am quite proud of this. "The Takeaway" employs so many of the skills I have as an editor that have long been dormant, while making me feel like a filmmaker for the first time in a long while. I hope everyone gets something out of watching this as I did making it.

Final note: Unfortunately, due to the worsening economy, work has been scarce in the freelance editing world. If anyone is looking for the guy who cut this piece to bring his abilities to their projects or knows someone who needs an editor (I strongly feel I can cut shows, documentaries, commercials, music videos and pretty much anything else), you can contact me. That info you can find at my editing website. This is about the closest thing I will have to a tip jar on this blog.

You can also view this on the Moving Image site here.


Matthew said...

Hey, Steven--

You didn't mention this in your blog entry, but the reason you got a producer credit on this is because in addition to cutting "The Takeaway," you gave me, Rich and Aaron incredibly useful, practical notes on all the other episodes. So in addition to cutting the finale, you served as another layer of quality control on the entire series. Thanks for that.

Steven Santos said...

You're welcome, Matt. As I cannot express enough, allowing me to cut this piece and be a part of this series means a great deal to me. Thank you.

Jason Bellamy said...

Nice job! There's still a part in the middle I need to catch, but this is a grand conclusion. The repetition of Liberty Valance is terrific, and I have to say that the cut to David Gregory is genius. I could list dozens of other moments I love, of course. Nice job. And, on a personal level, cool you got to pour your talents into something you're passionate about!

Congrats to you (and Matt).

Craig said...


Steven Santos said...

Jason, Craig:

Thanks for the kind words.