Locking Picture Or How Do You Know When Its Over

We are faced with a paradox at the end of the editing process. We want to get it over with, but we cannot let it go. The first attitude might cause us to skip crucial steps in the editing "end game." The second might cause us to go around in circles, never really solving the film's problems. We will continue to cut a frame here and there, add shots, and recut scenes, never giving up trying to make it perfect. Well, it will never be perfect. Anyway, perfection is not an aesthetic category.

Perhaps the biggest mistake made by my students during editing is that they do not look at the completed film (before mixing the sound track and locking the picture) enough times. And these times should be spaced so that you will be able to go away from the film for at least a long weekend. (One of the reasons directors might not have time to look at a film again and again is that they have not worked it into their schedules. This time pressure can harm a film and is another reason a director must develop an ass big enough for the second chair.) These repeated view-ings are much more important to the novice film director, who usually has more difficulty "seeing" the fruits of their art with some objectivity — which, of course, is not entirely available to even the mature artist in any field. But forget about the art for the moment and concentrate on only the craft. Is that shot too long, is that line of dialogue necessary, is that narrative beat clear? To you?

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