Nov 28, 2012

One video for one film

The basic form of movie montage is the tribute to a single film. Of course, "basic" refers to the fact that you're using footage from one film and no more, but you can make the video as complex as you can imagine. Here's an excellent example, a beautiful and very personal tribute to a masterpiece, again by my friend somersetVII:

When editing a tribute to a film, you can encapsulate the whole story in a few minutes (the duration of a song, for example). This is an editing exercise Steven Soderbergh himself does at home, choosing a film and telling its story in a small fraction of its real length. He says it's an excellent way to fully understanding a movie and practicing storytelling. You can edit a trailer-like video, presenting themes and characters but avoiding spoilers. Another option is focusing on a particular plot line or character, which is easier to explore and exploit in a deeper way than the whole film. Or you can edit something completely personal about what the movie means to you, how you understand it, why you love it so much.

The MUSIC CHOICE will very much determine the tone of the video: Choosing a track from the score of the film itself will definitely reinforce the general feeling of the movie, while choosing a song with lyrics will add some literal text to the images, so you can offer something that's not strictly related to the story, expressing your own point of view. And you can also edit a "true music video", making the song be the star and the images revolve around it, playing with them just for the pleasure of getting a nice synesthesia between music and visuals.

TO SPOIL OR NOT TO SPOIL? Personally I don't mind including spoilers and I don't mind finding them in other people's videos. I never watch a tribute to a film if I haven't seen the film before, why would I? I don't even watch trailers anymore cause most of them tell the whole story. Sometimes you need to show the ending of a movie to give full meaning to your tribute and sometimes you don't. In case you "spoil" the film for someone, it's their own fault for watching your video before the film itself. 

I've edited 57 videos for 56 different movies (I paid tribute to Aronofsky's The Fountain twice, but I don't really like repeating films, that was an exception). I'd like to think I have different styles for different genres and that I always express my personal point of view (sometimes through the music choice, sometimes through the selection of clips and quotes). I'm gonna choose some examples of different styles of mine.

Here's my "action-packed-music-video", summing the film up in a couple of minutes, re-creating the rythm and the adrenaline feeling of this type of movie:

Like this one, I have tributes to Casino Royale, ZombielandPoint break, SpeedDawn of the dead, The Departed, Fight Club... I usually edit each one of these in a couple of hours. The fast pace of the film inspires me to edit without thinking too much, just following my instinct. And, as an editing experience, it's really fun and exciting.

Many times I focus on a single aspect of the film, ignoring the rest of the plots, so the point of the video feels much more intense. Ignoring the "big picture" to concentrate on a single plot usually shows your personal feelings about a movie. For example, my tribute to Inglourious basterds focuses on Shosanna and the Bear Jew, ignoring the Hans Landa-Aldo Raine confrontation cause, even though I think these last two have some of the best moments in Tarantino's career, what really moved were the vengeful and self-sacrificing hearts of Shosanna and Donowitz:

I also skipped many plot lines and characters in my tributes to Carrie, Drive, The Neverending Story, InceptionDuneMaster & Commander... 

My "trailer-like" videos aren't really trailers, cause I always tell the whole story, including the ending of the movie, but the approach is similar to a trailer's. Mostly it's a particular track from the score that inspires me to edit a video like this, trying to re-create the narrative and the feeling of a film, in the mot faithful way, in the duration of a very characteristic music theme from the soundtrack. An example: 

I really enjoy editing this type of video, I let myself get carried along by the progression and the climax of the music, using its ups and downs to reinforce the ups and downs of the story. And I always include dialogues, with either a dramatic or a comical purpose. Other videos of mine with this spirit are: Excalibur, Star TrekTropic Thunder or How to make an American quilt.

Sometimes I like experimenting, not necessarily telling the story, just playing with the images to create the maximum synesthesia with the music. Like this:

Other playful videos of mine: Alice in Wonderland, Black Swan, 300Hero and my second tribute to The Fountain, which was recently blocked worldwide.

A very particular form of tribute I adopted at the very beginning of my editing career is the "Why a certain film is the best movie ever made". I've edited only two videos with this philosophy, but I have many more in mind. My first one was about Aliens, one of my top 3 favorite films, which I truly consider a masterpiece, not only of action genre, but of cinema in general. And the next one was this (a video that took a lot of time and thought):

With this type of video I'm not actually saying that these are the best movies ever made, my purpose is to claim them as perfect works of art, cause I feel they are still underrated.

And, finally, when editing something absolutely personal about a movie I love, the result is unpredictible. One of my very first tributes was the one to my favorite film, Donnie Darko. I edited it without thinking at all, I hadn't even decided any music or structure when I sat in front of the Final Cut, it simply came out like this, in a single day of work:

I know this film like that back of my hand and it means an awful lot to me. Watching the video I made for it, I realize I re-created some of the moments that got to me the very first time I saw the movie. And I also selected a tragic-comic mixture of quotes that don't mean to express a particular idea, they just show the bittersweet and surreal tone of the film. My first tribute to Aronofsky's The Fountain was also something quite out of the blue, edited only a few days after I had first watched the film.

Other very personal tributes of mine did have a lot of planning behind them, like The curious case of Benjamin Button, House of Flying Daggers or Blue Valentine.

I'd like to send you again to the very first video that opened this post, my friend somerset's tribute to his favorite film, Seven. What a brilliant piece of work, made with all the thought and care and admiration and knowledge and intensity and complexity that only a true lover of the movie can manage. It's obvious that the film means a lot to him, that he has thought a lot about why he loves it so much and how he understands it. And he shows all that magnificently in his choice of music, his selection of clips and his editing. I asked him to write something about this particular work of his: "The images and acting in this movie are incredible and I wanted a song that matched. Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi from Amélie was what I chose and believed it worked well as a sort of theme song for the two lead characters. This is my favourite movie and I think I could edit a 100 videos of it and not be able to display how good it really is. So for this I just tried to piece together what it is about this story that I've always been drawn to, the relationship of Mills and Somerset and the amazing directing of David Fincher". Considering the movie, many people would have chosen a dramatic, noisy, dark music, something like the title sequence theme, or one of those disturbing tracks from the score by Howard Shore. But he chose a music from another film, the tender Amélie, and applied it to this tragic story, adding an extremeley melancholic feeling that offers a whole new perspective to detectives David Mills and William Somerset's experience. 

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