The Cuddly Ninja sat down with Beezo, faneditor since 2013. Ninja’s words are in red.
Cuddly Ninja: Hey Beezo, what’s going on?
Thanks for chatting with me. Prometheus was your first edit, right?
So that started your trend of removing voiceovers which explain things characters also explain.
Yeah, when you read about voiceovers from a critical standpoint, they’ll always say they are crutches and unnecessary. But everybody always says the one exception to that rule is Goodfellas. I always enjoyed that contrast of having one rule saying not to use voiceovers except that Goodfellas does it right. So it opens the door for there being a way to do it correctly.
Can we just admit that it’s just a phenomenal movie that used a technique which is not ideal?
It’s extremely well-written. Each character has a voice. It’s not just somebody explaining the narrative. But in general, voiceovers are problematic so it’s an easy thing to lock on to when you’re doing an edit.
Specifically with science fiction. I feel like most sci-fi voiceover is there because somebody wasn’t sure everybody would get it and wanted to make the story more palatable to dumb people.
I think there’s a Catch-22 when it comes to making big budget science fiction films. On one hand, you have to dump a bunch of money into visual effects. And to recoup that cost, you need to get big actors, which doubles down on the cost. When you start adding more money, then you need to appeal to a larger demographic which ends up dumbing down the process. But the genius of great sci-fi is that it’s not dumbed down.
That’s literally why it’s the best genre.
That’s why it makes a terrific genre for fanediting. It undermines itself by the process it gets made. When you see really good sci-fi films, invariably something in that formula is cut out. Like Gravity. It only has two actors. Or Ex Machina, just three. Her has like five. So you can see how each time the studio allows the writers and directors to dig deep into the material and make something really good in sci-fi, they can’t have something with a big budget like Prometheus or Oblivion. Back in the ’70s it felt like you could do stuff like that, but nowadays you just can’t.
Alex Garland still had to write like seven hit movies before they’d give him $25 million or whatever it cost for Ex Machina. Maybe that’s why a lot of the great sci-fi films are from established visionary directors because nobody can tell Kubrick what to do in a movie, you know?
He’s so good that you didn’t even mention Aliens! You didn’t have to.
I guess all I can take away from that is that James Cameron is still as technically proficient and talented as ever but I think he wants to make simple, environmental message movies. That’s disappointing to me but the man has certainly earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants. And we’ll see if people want to see four more of them. We’re eight years later and I still don’t know how to answer the question “was Avatar good?” I don’t even know how to answer. I saw it in the theatre four times because it was an amazing cinematic experience. But any time they talked I got pretty annoyed. I don’t even know if I think it’s a good movie or not. Maybe?
Your saying that gave me the idea of parsing it down, removing all the dialogue and turning it into a 90 minute music video kind of thing.
With just lush visuals and all that. I would watch the hell out of that. As somebody who’s not only a military veteran but also a science person, Cameron could not have offended me more on every level. Usually one side is treated poorly at the expense of the other. Not here. Well, it’s lame to get offended. I just mean it’s boring, trite and cliched.
I’m happy using the word ‘offended’ here. I had a conversation the other day, somebody asked me “what’s the most offensive movie you’ve ever seen?” My reply to that is The Purge.
Really? I didn’t see that one.
Are you familiar with the concept?
Oh yeah, definitely. Interesting concept, actually.
I am offended because The Purge makes absolutely no attempt to QUESTION whether or not the Purge itself is a good thing.
Really!? I’ve got to say. I’m surprised that’s not the central thesis of the movie.
Nope. The opening lines of the movie say that the Supreme Court ruled that the Purge was legal, it was okay to kill everybody on this one day. What? How did that happen? Where’s the dialogue? The main character’s a guy who sells home security units for the Purge.
So the movie treats it as ‘this is what happens, it’s worth it’ and never brings that up again?
They throw out a line of text about the murder rate outside of the Purge dropped to like 0% so it’s justified. I’m offended as an American, as a descendant of great Greek democratic culture, I am offended as a human being, as a moralist. And then the movie’s not that great so I’m offended as a cinephile, too.
That actually is horribly offensive. The offensive part is the one line explaining it about crime going to zero and I’m sure in the filmmakers’ heads, it works as an explanation, ipso facto it works so this is a good idea. I’m offended that they didn’t even realize that THAT is a point worth debating. The crime rate can be zero every other day and we can still have a real talk over how morally just it is. The way you’re describing it is that the line explains it as ‘therefore it works so what else is there to talk about’ and that assumption is really offensive. Not that they came down on the side that it’s worth it, that’s not an unreasonable conclusion perhaps.
What this segues into is two things. One, really pinpoint accurate film criticism. If a critic says the problem with Batman v Superman is that Batman doesn’t have the same characteristics people bring into it, I’m discounting you. There’s more at play. Maybe it’s some weird, undefinable thing…but you should try to define it. That’s where I think that fanediting opens the door to exploration better than any kind of film analysis. Because a faneditor can go in, take away lines of dialogue, shave off a B plot that doesn’t go anywhere, shave off a music cue that’s in the wrong place or conveys the wrong tone, etc. You do all these massages to the film, and somebody else can see that and really like it. “Yeah, but Batman is killing people” and they’ll feel like ‘Who cares? It’s a different kind of Batman and I like this movie.’ All of a sudden all the little things that are so elusive, the faneditor has a chance to go in there. I think fanediting is a really unique form of film criticism.
It’s the most definitive version of your opinion. It’s the clearest it could be about what you think should have happened, in a way.
It’s one thing for a critic to say that the problem is this character and throw out a plot outline, and they’re well-spoken about it, you can put it in the New York Times. If you go and take that person’s criticism and change things that they say and then the result is dogshit, it undermines their critical analysis. Who cares if they made some reference to a French Noveau film? It’s about putting your money where your mouth is. Faneditors are a different breed of film critics because we don’t just say we think the movie would be better like this, we drop 100 hours into proving our point.
I’m not sure I agree with the idea of nullifying criticism. If criticism is thought out, it’s valid. It might not apply to you, you might not agree with it, so be it. Especially with editing, you know this, it’s so much easier to say in an article ‘I wish they dropped the subplot’ but you know how that goes. That subplot could tie in with two critical points. In decent movies, plots tend to tie in together. But I love your idea. It goes sort of as mainstream does, too. I always assumed most people on the site are probably into critically thinking about this stuff. Because you’re here, you must care.
Art needs feedback. Criticism is such a fascinating concept to me. Artists need feedback because they don’t have the objectivity to know what they created.
Not only that, it’s not what it is to them, to anybody else on the planet. So what it “is” is what people experience, outside the one creator who will experience it differently from all of us. So it’s absolutely valuable/interesting/fruitful to discuss those things. Regular people don’t want to talk about movies as much anymore, it’s sad. It’s just “saw this, it’s good.” I just saw The Witch and I work with a dude who had seen it. We had this half-assed conversation and he barely wanted to talk about the ending. Are you kidding me!? I wanted to talk about the ending for three hours.
You’ve done some color correction on some deleted scenes. I have a color correction question. I suck at it. I tried to do it in my first fanedit ever, something that will never, ever see the light of day.
The Edge of Tomorrow nightmare?
Yeah. So I’ve always been really interested in this. It’s a weird thing. It’s not how good your eyeballs are. My eyeballs are actually exceptional. I have 20/10 vision. But they are not, or I am not, sensitive to color. I’ll watch a video where somebody did color correction and think ‘yeah that looks awesome!’ And then somebody will post something that everybody says looks like Oompa Loompas. It won’t like register with me. Then when they fix it and I see the comparison, I think yeah, absolutely, that does look better. I just don’t have the visual acumen that way. Which is great, because everybody is so mad that all modern movies are orange and teal. I mean, I understand but it’s not a big problem for me.
I totally agree, I’m in exactly the same camp. It doesn’t bother me at all. I see side-by-side comparisons but when you’re watching a movie your eyes just understand a reference point. Then blues are blue, greens are green and you get it. I don’t think it really changes the experience all that much.
I don’t have a good eye for it, either but you’re right about the reference point. The guy who re-colored Jurassic World, I get it. It looks more like Jurassic Park but I couldn’t tell you why. But then somebody comments on some color correction clip of something that the blacks are crushed, your mids are a little magenta and the gamma, why don’t you call this ‘Attack of the Gamma’ lol, and I feel like such an idiot. I don’t understand any of it.
I have quite a bit of experience with Photoshop doing photo editing. So a lot of the same tools and words translate to Premiere Pro. Vibrance, saturation, hue, those kinds of things. I can’t describe it but in my head I know what’s going to happen if I adjust those little bars. But I would be a much better color corrector if I understood that I didn’t need to change all of the magenta in this shot, just the top range. If that made sense to me, I might be able to do a better job at it. On my Prometheus, there’s the alternate sequence of Fifield coming back and attacking the ship. Agent9 and Severius, I think it was Severius (note: it was Severian), they’ve all included notes about color correcting it. All I did was tweak a few values to make it a bit closer. But my eye can definitely tell it’s not in the movie. I don’t think the other color corrections look much different, though.
If people are engaged in other shit – it’s a cop out but it’s true a lot. Nobody cares that your deleted scene is in SD if it’s something awesome they want to see.
I care! I won’t use a deleted scene or alternate footage if it’s not similar.
If you’re making a goddamn Tarantino cut, you’re gonna use scenes that were in Tarantino’s script!
Haha fair. Did you see that YouTube clip of the guy who fanedited a bunch of movies together so it’s a bunch of characters in a dance hall, disco ball, club kind of thing? (Note: It’s called Hell’s Club, edited by Antonio Maria Da Silva, found here.)
That helped me understand the value of color modifying, not just color correcting. Because he put everything in such a deep, similar color palette with the deep red, it really did play like they were all in the same space. If you make that same edit with no color changes, it would be a complete mess. It’s the color changes that really sell the idea that they’re all together.
So editing, what’s your setup from start to scratch. You say, ‘I want to edit Blade Runner because it’s an amazing, exciting film that everybody loves,’ what’s your process?
I use AnyDVD to rip the video and the audio. I think I have to convert the audio to wav with Audacity to work in Premiere Pro.
So you’re an Adobe family guy?
Yeah. But for whatever reason I can’t author a DVD with Encore. It fails every time. I’ve worked with Adobe but can’t get it working so I use different software for authoring, but all the editing is done in Premiere Pro.
What authoring software do you use? I’m very curious because you and I are two of the only people who still make blu-rays.
It’s called MultiAVCHD, honestly it sucks. But it gets the structure out there and it works. I think you made a comment on a review of one of my edits about the menu buttons not being mapped correctly.
Yeah, Blade Runner [Danse Macabre]. I was hitting left and it would go up or whatever.
I used the same program for all my edits. If I had money to buy Vegas I’d use their authoring tool, but as long as it gets the format out and it works, that’s all I really care about.
I use Vegas, their authoring tool DVD Architect is fine. I used to make blu-rays for other people’s edits (my own collection). But that presents a whole other problem because Sony refuses to acknowledge that mkv is a container that a lot of people use. Which is an understandable thing from a business perspective but an incredibly annoying thing from my perspective. So you use After Effects, too? I’m kind of dumb about Adobe products, sorry. Is After Effects only an effects thing? I know that sounds so stupid.
I haven’t really cracked open the After Effects egg yet, so I’m not a great person to ask. Premiere Pro itself has some good basic effects on it. Anything that I’ve needed to do, I’ve been able to do through just the tools inside Premiere Pro. I might have to change that, though. I’m working on an edit now where I have one establishing shot that needs to change from a night shot to a twilight shot. I might have to play around with After Effects to see if I can make that work.
Why don’t you just rotoscope Kristen Stewart in?
The older I get, the more emotionally affected I get from a film. I used to just be able to separate my brain from what I was seeing. Which isn’t bad, per se. I used to have a list. Up until a few years ago (I’m 33 now), I had a list of five movies. They were the only ones which ever made me cry. Ever! Now that list has gone away. I mean, I won’t full-on bawl on bullshit now. I guess my younger stance was cynical detachment, pretty much judging. As I got older, I thought ‘You know what’s fun about movies? Giving yourself over to them emotionally.’ I haven’t turned into a huge crier but it has changed. I don’t think when I was young I thought ‘You know what’s cool? Not being emotionally affected by movies.’ I think I just came from kind of a cynical place and I was looking at camera work and everything else. I used to actually think The Godfather was a boring movie, I was such a freaking insufferable kid. Now, I just give myself over to the characters. If they do anything to break that agreement, then I’m out of it. But if they don’t, I’m in. It’s a much more satisfying way to view movies, for me.
I had a similar experience with Schindler’s List. I watched it and it was more macabre to me than an emotional journey. I remember watching it, feeling voyeuristic, wondering if that’s really how it looked. I remember years later people talking about how devastating the scene is at the end, the “one more person” part. I didn’t remember it bothering me when I was young. Then later, I watched it again and I’m on the ground losing my shit during that scene. That point, I could tell that I was experiencing things in a completely different way than when I was a kid. I think I put Inside Out as my favorite movies from last year just because it fucking wrecked me. It’s so rare that a movie will do that so well now, but I’m much more prone to it now.
That movie was so good.
That’s the kind of movie that blows my mind. I can’t imagine the early talks for that movie, of making a movie about a little girl’s subconscious. So for something like that to get through the ‘yeah that sounds cool’ phase and get made, it’s an anomaly. It takes a studio with experience taking those chances.
I watched it with my wife and we both got stuff in our eyes multiple times. I guess I just learned as I got older that there’s no real value in putting up a default defense against emotional engagement. I’m literally just taking away from my enjoyment of the art by putting a barrier to me getting into it. It just seemed really silly. But yeah, so you use Adobe.
A hypothetical: let’s pretend time is no issue. What series of films would you like to edit? Like 1-8 of Harry Potter, the Alien trilogy, etc. I’ve become really interested in this after doing the second Insidious in a way that related to my first edit. It was fun.
I hate to be cliched but it would probably be Star Wars.
Oh, you mean the thing that started fanediting? I guess that’s cool.
Coming into fanediting now with a big library of prequel edits and OT edits, as much as I would like to put my voice into that series, I would want to watch all the other editing decisions made and that is a huge, colossal time sink.
With the prequels, you could have the greatest ideas in the world, I just don’t ever want to watch one again. I’m out. I don’t like those movies. I’ve seen a bunch of edits of them, I’m good.
So many people have done so much good work. You almost should become a connoisseur of all the edits to even do something worth watching. Every time a prequel fanedit pops up, I look at the cutlist and see how much effort was put into it. But yeah, I would do the Star Wars movies. I think to do it right you can’t just watch the original and go, you have to piggyback or look at all the ideas which have come before. Then you have to find your own take and changes that make it worthwhile to put it out there.