Cuddly Ninja: I had a brief thought about editing The Force Awakens with prequel music. The first time I left the theater, I was not blown away by the score. Then I saw the film again and realized that the score wasn’t what I was expecting but I loved it. I can’t imagine doing a rescore edit because I’ve come around and the score is phenomenal. It’s a more subtle score, moving along with the action but less bombastic that previous entries. I just couldn’t appreciate John Williams’ genius the first time around, so now I wouldn’t rescore it.
I don’t think there’s much room to improve it. It’s a really good movie as is, I’m going to be happy dropping in the Blu-ray and watching the original.
For me, a good fanedit has to be a convincing reason NOT to do that. Sometimes I think “this edit is good – but I’m not going to watch it again.” Like it’s not good enough to be worth the quality drop – especially if it’s more than 4 years old. It has to be a great edit in standard definition for me to care, it just has to be. And maybe that’s not fair because it was made with 2005 tools but it’s 2016 and it has to be great for me to watch in SD. Casino Royale: Straight Flush Edition, great example.
When it comes to a FanFix, I want something that’s going to replace the disc. Otherwise you just leave the door open for another faneditor to improve the work that you should have done the first time around.
Let me fanedit your fanedit. [laughs] What are some of your all-time favorite edits?
I often get really impressed returning to the War of the Stars Part 2. One of the things that’s absolutely fascinating about that fanedit is that every single scene has something iconic in it, which he then changes. [TMBTM] is able to continue doing that from the first scene to the end. So everything is a surprise. And when you’re talking about Star Wars movies, for everything to be a surprise just blows my mind. To take something that’s so familiar and make it new is a very rare treat.
That’s the fun part about fanediting. When you look at different movies, are you factoring in how much people know them? For instance, when you messed with Blade Runner, people know that movie well, specific shots. So when you change things, you know that nobody watching your edit who doesn’t know the original to a certain degree. Do you always try to edit assuming they’ve never seen the original, or is there some sort of pragmatic middle ground? Earth One is another example. Another Earth, I’ve never seen that movie. So do you think about it as a movie not everyone knows? Or do you try to make it for someone who’s never seen anything.
I try to make it so that you can start at zero, as if you had no experience and then watched it. I’m not interested in making a complimentary piece, like as long as you liked the original you might like this.
You don’t want to rely on the knowledge of the original.
Right. And I would actually be hard-pressed to find somebody who watched my edit and hadn’t seen the original in a long time and have them come up with a list of things that are missing. The interrogation scene at the beginning is jumbled up so maybe they would remember it played out. One of the iconic images is the head bursting through the wall, somebody might remember that but I edited around it to the point where it’d be hard to tell. Every single plot point from the original is in my edit with the exception of the very end – the question of whether or not she’s still there when he approaches. So the intention is to create something that is self-contained. It creates a bit of a Catch-22, though because you have to own the source to satisfy the DMCA stuff.
That’s why I bring it up. You want an edit to work for someone who’s never seen it. But, for example, I made an American Horror Story edit. Nobody owns the season of that show who isn’t big into that show. So theoretically everybody watching that edit has a bunch of knowledge about the characters. One of the things about TV-to-Movie edits is that people will complain that they missed all this character development. Which is not unfair and can be true, but they miss it only because it happened. You could take any movie and turn it into a season long show and you would get a way better understanding of the characters. Then if you took that away and made it back into the movie you would feel like you’re missing character development. So I don’t want you to bring in the baggage of knowing all of these characters because I want to see if this works as a piece on its own. But you can’t watch it unless you have knowledge of these characters pretty much!
Editing has helped me think about films much differently. What do you think about the future of fanediting? Do you think we’ll continue to exist in this bubble where studios knows we exist but don’t really care because it’s not happening in significant enough numbers or venue to really affect their sales?
I think in some ways it can’t help but be legitimized at some point. As long as there’s interest in something, the market tends to figure out a way to monetize it. If somebody makes an SD version of the film and the studio just spent millions to make the film look crystal clear, that could be seen as disrespectful. As long as you can tie in quality control and figure out a way for the studio to make money. Then fanediting is going to be legitimized. With all the different versions of a movie that come out, like the theatrical cut, the director’s cut –
– And the electric unicorn cut and ultimate cut –
In ten years when the movie gets repackaged and resold for another round of sales, include the top three studio-approved fanedits. Something is going to break and some studio is going to realize –
Money on the table! That’s all that matters.
It’s not that I say that’s all they care about –
I’m saying that! That’s fine; that’s their job. If I understand it correctly, you’re talking about a world where the fanedit rights float along with the theatrical rights, so they could be on Vimeo or YouTube with a cut going to the studio.
I didn’t even think that far, but yeah that’s along the same line. It didn’t used to be that this was an option. Everything was on film. But now they’re releasing movies as 1s and 0s on Netflix, you know? We have the consumer tools now. There’s no reason why a director can’t release a director’s cut along with the theatrical cut. Let the studio release their theatrical cut, that appeals to the biggest audience but then let the director have his final cut.
So you make your Blade Runner edit, let’s say. By making an edit of Blade Runner, the studio owns the right to your fanedit. So maybe there’s a world where that part gets released on a Vimeo channel.
Sure, and there could be a conversation where the studio says “look, we like your fanedit of Blade Runner and want to release it in whatever format but you gotta remove the ‘Beezo fanedit’ part.”
And you should remove the part where you say Blade Runner is a boring fucking movie. Other than that, you’re good.
Haha yeah, no commentary track. Or they could just say we’ll mass produce your edit and put it on the discs for free. I would say “of course, fine, I don’t have any rights to it anyway.” Then they could have the quality control in place and just put on a couple edits that are in HD and good enough, you know?
I kinda like that world. But then everybody will start fanediting to try to break into the industry as an editor. I don’t know if that’s good. It’s an overall net positive but that would be annoying. “Let me do this to try to get a job rather than spend 80 hours working on a movie that nobody cares about because I do.” Or ADigitalMan is offline and I have to recreate his Aladdin edit [CN note: I don’t even see an Aladdin theatrical recreation on his iFDB page but I swear somebody else did it first].
We’ve already got about a million Star Wars Episode I edits and if this ever took place we would have 10 or 100 times that.
Have you ever watched an edit, and whatever the thing is that’s on screen (effect, narrative choice, whatever) and said ‘I could never do that.’
There are moments that something will pop up in an edit and my mind will be blown and I think I would have never thought of that. In the njvc edit of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there’s a sequence where Indy has the skull put in front of him and he freaks out. Moments afterwards, he ends up meeting Marion. In the original, it’s just a shot of the skull and it’s zooming in on him while he has his mind get, I don’t know, I barely remember. But in the fanedit, he inserts a bunch of shots and it’s almost like an induced dream sequence from staring into the skull. And in those shots, he includes the nuclear bomb going off that was cut out of his edit. So turning that into a dream sequence and inserting shots from Raiders of the Lost Ark, including some shots of Marion so that when she shows up a moment or two later there’s a tie-in to the first movie. To go back to War of the Stars and everything in that edit. Visually, there’s so much effects work that it is daunting to think that I could do anything like that right now.
Some of the Rogue-theX stuff where he’s building a record player out of tin baking sheets from West Africa or whatever! I’m always impressed with his model work.
Somebody had asked me about color correcting Blade Runner because the Ridley-approved Final Cut version that came out did have a lot of different coloring than the original. Some of the shots that they did were really impressive! Then I thought about maybe going through and color correcting my edit that way while I was doing it and then I thought ‘Nope, fuck it. That’s outside of my skill right now.’
Like, what’s-his-face, I’m the worst faneditor on the planet for forgetting his name.
No, not him. The crazy dude. Come on! The Revisited dude. Adywan!
Oh, Adywan, right.
That’s a route that seems spectacular but unhealthy. I’m super glad he’s doing it, though. It would drive me crazy.
I think that there will be a movie eventually about his work and obsession, and that’ll be a good movie to watch.
Have you ever wanted something (an effect or whatever) to happen in your edit, and you just couldn’t get there?
One thing coming to mind is from Prometheus. There’s the scene in the original where the two, Fifield and whatever the guy’s name is [CN note: if Beezo edited the movie and doesn’t remember, there’s a 0% chance I do] are stuck in the dome and interact with the snake alien, which kills both of them. Originally they are so mind-numbingly stupid, playing with this animal which is clearly a predator, just being so dumb. It was one of the biggest things I wanted to fix. I spent so much time editing that sequence trying to make it work and what I’m left with is something that is just slightly less egregious. I even figured out a way of deleting the scene altogether but making them die, I tried so many ways to get around it but couldn’t do it. It’s one of those narrative things that just doesn’t work.
One thing that I wish people in the community understood more is the worth of people who don’t edit. I often see “well, I’ll take a look” or “I’m no editor but” and I just think ‘no, you’re super valuable!’ Editors can be understanding of why you did something in a sense based on the footage you have, but as an editor I just want to know if this works or this doesn’t. It’s often that binary. Does this transition seem weird or did you not notice? That’s valuable information! We have a lot of people in the community who haven’t completed edits (or started) and I feel like they don’t give themselves enough credit. They have insightful stuff that’s incredibly useful to the editor.
Somebody wrote in a review for my Prometheus edit “if I were making an edit of Prometheus, I would just start with them entering the ship at the beginning” and I started thinking about that. I hadn’t considered it and it made me re-think how the opening could work if you did that. If I ever decide to crack open Prometheus again and make a V2, I’ll make a choice on the disc to watch with an alternate opening. So that review sparked an insight I hadn’t had before. So any kind of feedback good or bad can have something valuable there.
Yeah, the more eyeballs the better. Because you don’t have to have an idea on how to do something better or differently, just knowing what works and what doesn’t is excellent.
Often as an editor, you’re already intimate with the scene and how it flows so sometimes you’re trying to sell an idea and you don’t know if you’re selling it right. All somebody has to say is ‘I don’t know about this scene here’ and you know exactly what they’re talking about. I feel like most often when somebody says they weren’t sure about this one thing in the second act, before they even finish I’m like ‘yep, I know exactly what you’re going to say. I wasn’t 100% on that moment being sold.’ This is why previewing is so valuable.
So, let’s get into fanedit release format.
I expected when I first started getting into this, when I made a DVD and Blu-ray version of Prometheus, that I’d just throw on an mp4 in case anybody wanted to download it that way.
I’m like you, I thought that would be the bonus version! How silly is that now, right?
I thought ‘the DVD and the Blu-ray have the audio commentary tracks and clearly people are going to want to get that, and they own the Blu-ray already so they have a Blu-ray player. Which means they probably have a Blu-ray burner so this should all work out no problem.’
And you now realize that you made like seven assumptions that aren’t true.
That’s why Oblivion and Prometheus don’t have commentary tracks on the mp4! I incorrectly assumed that people would get the DVD or the blu-ray.
You’ve done commentary tracks for all four of your edits. Do you expect that you’ll do them for all your edits?
Cool. I was doing them and then I stopped. Part of it was that my equipment wasn’t great and the other part was that as far as I could tell, nobody was listening to any of them. They were fun, but I didn’t feel like spending the time recording and putting them together.
There was a time in my life not too long ago when I was extremely broke. I didn’t have money to go out for entertainment purposes. I had my DVD collection and I would put the movies in that I’ve seen a million times and listen to commentary tracks. I’d listened to some before but during that phase I listened to so many commentary tracks that I really had no interest in listening to previously. And what I got from all those was learning about the behind-the-scenes decision making process for the movies themselves and it got me more interested in the edits. I got so much out of it that I now always try to include a detailed, bloviating commentary track because I’m thinking of myself back then. I liked the insight I got out of them so I’m going to continue to do that with my edits.
That’s pretty cool. I like that. Maybe I should go back to it. The thing is, I like doing them with my wife and having fun with them. Maybe people watch them. 95% of the people who watch fanedits don’t say a damn thing to anyone about them. So maybe it is worth it. But it also feels narcissistic because why would anyone care about my thought process through every step of the way. But I listen to commentary tracks because I’m that weirdly interested in what other people are thinking, so I don’t know. Working out the logistics with my wife is a hassle, then it sounds alright because I’ve got a mic I got from Amazon because I don’t care THAT much. So I don’t think I’ve done one for the last two but now I kinda want to again.
I’m on the other side of it. I can’t think of a reason not to. When people release fanedits and don’t have commentary tracks, it’s like ‘Why not??’ You just spent 100 hours editing this, and you’re more exciting about the edit than anybody else, so take an hour and go to town.’
I just explained to you why not!
Well, I didn’t hear that in my head haha. I guess there is sort of a subconscious narcissistic component which might turn people off but for me, I feel like I have a reason behind every cut that I do. I enjoy hearing about other creators and directors talking about decisions they made, and I get to feel like I get to be a bit of that process or world by adding my own commentary track.
I really enjoy yours, especially the two I’ve seen.
Seriously, I’ve watched both with commentary which is a big compliment. I don’t always know, though. There was a thread on commentary tracks and I went back and learned holy shit Neglify and juice4zo did commentary tracks on FvJ and stuff. I’m not technologically stupid but I don’t always think to check what alternate audio tracks are on something. Commentary tracks are interesting, and yours are good. You realize that an editor removed this or didn’t remove this but you don’t REALLY realize what was involved in that. I love yours because you remember stuff so much better than me and can give a shot by shot breakdown. I listen and think ‘I think I did that much work on my edits but I certainly don’t remember it all’ haha. People think it’s generally removing broad swaths but your commentary reminds me how many little pieces are involved sometimes in removing something broad. I’ve seen Blade Runner a bunch but I don’t have it memorized so I love when you point out shot reversals or little changes because then I recall the original and appreciate the change a bit more.
There was an edit I did in that one, if you remember the interrogation scene with the first replicant. The boss is telling Deckard “we did, he died” or something and in my edit it cuts to the final moment of that sequence where the guys gets shot, then back to Deckard. In the original, he just gets shot and then Deckard responds. In mine, I needed to give him a moment to think.
You needed him to process that and arrive at the conclusion.
Yeah, arrive at the conclusion that the audience just figured out when we see that moment. So that his thinking is the same as us. But there’s no time! How the fuck do I get him to think? Do I slow it down? I tried playing with that and it didn’t quite work. Then I stumbled upon the idea of taking a second and a half of him looking, double it and then play it backwards.
That’s a great example. It perfectly encapsulates what I was talking about. For me, outside of like ten movies, I don’t have every shot memorized. My memory’s just not that good, it’s not how it works. I remember emotions much more. So I really enjoy getting into the nitty gritty shot by shot so I super appreciated it. And I was super mad when you first created your thread about the Blade Runner edit, about how Blade Runner is boring. I thought ‘screw this guy, he’s so far off.’ But then I read about some of the things that didn’t work for you and your issues and I didn’t disagree wholeheartedly with much of it. You weren’t really as antagonistic as I thought. And I actually prefer your version. The music works so perfectly.
I don’t even listen to classical music on its own for the most part but I love it in films so much more.
I had a conversation at a bar with Ethan and Donna [CN note: of the excellent Feature This fanedit podcast] and Blade Runner came up. It was a weird thing where we were all embarrassed to admit that we didn’t really care for it but then we all did together. So when I posted here at Fanedit.org, I knew I was being a little antagonistic but I was hoping that people would come out of the woodwork going ‘I’ve been thinking the same thing for years and never wanted to say anything.’
That didn’t happen.
No, it didn’t. [Laughter]
But I think you got people like me who love that movie, not disingenuously, but can see what you mean. Blade Runner is a classic. But I could see where you were coming from and I was down for an alternate version. So I probably started from a place where it’s a bit less precious than most. I really like the movie but it’s not A Clockwork Orange where I can’t understand why someone would remove a single scene. Where I can’t imagine a thematic reason you would ever remove a single scene from it.
Every once in a while I’ll be cruising around on reddit and somebody will talk about Blade Runner. I’ll put a comment in there “hey, I made an edit of this. Let me know and I’ll PM you some links.” Almost every time I do that it gets downvoted into oblivion with one or two comments about how I’m a complete idiot.
I still don’t understand reddit. I used to put my edits on there on Vimeo and you said I shouldn’t put them there directly and I just thought ‘well I don’t know what this is for then. I don’t understand the point’ and I don’t think I’ve posted on there since. [Laughter] The point certainly isn’t a conversation with mad macs voltage haha!
I do sometimes wish that fanediting as an art form got more credibility but that would literally kill it.
I wish it were more legitimized in the film criticism world. Now it’s always just ‘some guy made an edit of Star Wars undoing the special edition’ and that’s it.
All of the mainstream fanediting stuff is Harmy and Adywan. Those two are fascinating dudes and I totally get why they are the focuses (foci? I think I remember that from the mirror stuff in physics. Oooh, I never put this together: did ‘focus’ come from ‘Foucault’ who used mirrors in his early speed of light measurements?) [CN note: no, it did not. It’s Latin like a billion other words, thank you Google] Anyway, Adywan is amazing but writing an article about what he’s doing is not writing about what we’re all generally doing with editing. He’s doing his own thing, which is amazing. Harmy is an editor who did preservations and doesn’t consider himself a faneditor. So writing about those guys is cool but they’re not very representative of fanediting in general. But it’s a starting point.
These journalists who don’t really know what fanediting is, if they Google it, they find a bunch of Star Wars Adywan and Harmy stuff. So it creates a cycle, a feedback loop. Then every once in a while you’ll have an article about Topher Grace doing the impossible and merging all the Star Wars prequels into one movie. [Laughter]
I could probably do this for five more hours.
Good luck paring this down!