But the script is written at that time

No, it's sort of developing on a separate track. Conversely, we're out shooting archives, not with our head buried in a script saying, "Oh, we've got to fill up paragraph three of page twenty-seven." But because we're drawn to all of the images in the archive, we're fresher, we ask more questions. On the other hand, we're working on a script unconcerned with whether there are images to illustrate what we're writing because we think illustration is the death of documentary films. So what we end up having when we get to the editing room is a huge mess of interviews, a huge mess of script, a huge mess of archives, and quite often it's true that a whole bunch of stuff can't be used. And quite often we find ourselves with a scene that we love in a script for which there don't seem, at least at first blush, to be images. But what we end up doing in addition to reshooting and continuing to shoot until the very last day when we've locked the film, and researching and writing, is keep a developing process where we're open to new ways of telling stories.

We also don't add our music after it's locked. We go, in that early first process, and listen to dozens, hundreds, of tunes and pick out, say, fifty that we're drawn to, that are historically accurate. Or contemporary tunes that have echoes of the past moment we're hoping to bring alive. We go into the studio before we've begun a day of editing and work with session musicians laying down twenty, maybe even thirty different versions of each of those tunes, doing it based on the integrity of the music. And then we come back and we have music beds that are as rich, as organic an archival resource as the still photographs or the first-person voices that we've also collected hundreds of and read by three or four people dozens of ways or by the different script notes.

And then we start editing. And it is the most important, most difficult, painful process, in which we listen to this material and try to divine a structure out of what is essentially static moribund images, lots of testimony. So, to give you one example, any time you see the proverbial talking head in my film, that is a happy accident of trial and error and final placement. There is nothing that has been preordained. We haven't in any way shown the question to somebody or shown them a bit of script and said, "Can you get me to point A from point B?" Or, "That was great. Could you say it again?" We've just never done that. So everything has the chance to be organic, and invariably the film takes different directions and turns and, like a bucking bronco, we ride it and see until the end. And a script draft comes about when it gets so written up and so rewritten that we have to print it out again in a new form. And we're constantly doing that. The last day of editing, we're probably shooting an archive and making sure that I pan across in twelve seconds instead of fourteen, or we're adding a phrase to a sentence in our writing because it fits to the music that works so perfectly there, and rather than have the music be mechanically timed—scored—to a finished or locked or nearly locked film, instead, we're adjusting other elements so that the music has a chance to do what it does. So many of these things are ass backwards and create extremely complicated editing dynamics, but, I think, account for the success of the films, and account for that higher degree of interest and emotionalism.

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Digital Camera and Digital Photography

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