The festival over, the parties past, fuego and I took refuge up in Los Alamos for a few days. fuego took care of some personal stuff and we didn’t start fretting about getting back to the editing bay for several hours.
We were caught in the space-warping effects of the Black Hole – days slipped by, but there was no word when we would be able to start editing Pirates. I got some writing done (mostly editing existing works in progress) and fuego started a draft of the pilot/feature version of our movie. I found it difficult to collaborate, though, for two reasons: I had other stories on my mind and we needed a place we could drop into an insulated cocoon and just throw ideas around. Towards the end I was getting back into the mood, and started being more helpful.
Friday we finally got word. There would be facilities available off and on, and we could get started on Saturday. There is one editing station, shared by all the teams, so access may be sporadic. Honestly, though, most of the other films don’t need it as much as we do. Simpler ideas, simpler shots, no disasters in editing, the other movies were closer to being presentable. fuego and I hopped in the car and swept back in the Duke City Saturday morning.
Somewhere along the Santa Fe bypass, about halfway to the big city, fuego said, “I forgot the keys to the Hotelsmobile.” That meant until we got back to Los Alamos we would only have one car, and the giant Olds would remain stationed outside the the Byrne’s house, props we need to return securely locked within. Oh, well.
The editing facilities we found were really nice. Charles the First and fuego set to work, making sure all the bits were there and getting a general feel for what needed to be done. I was simply there to provide an occasional opinion: “We need the sound of the engine roaring there.” “The timing feels a little off.” That kind of thing.
In only a few minutes they had gone over the first part and were busily making changes. I watched as the things gradually improved, from more consistent background sound, better balance of exposure and color between shots, to improved timing of lines. (Note to self – there’s still one pause that bothers me.) Still not perfect, but much better. As the intro improved, so did my spirits. We were going to have something to show people. Eventually.
Next came the opening credits. They needed work for a variety of reasons, from confusing cuts in the map sequence to misspelled names. Misspelled names. My hair stood up when I found out about those. I had created a list of names, and every cast member had checked off on the spelling of their name. I had delivered that list to the guys doing the credits. “Do NOT use the spreadsheet. Use this list.” I said. “The spreadsheet has errors and is not complete.” I said this more than once, to more than one person. They had used the spreadsheet initially because the list was not available yet, but then they never went back and checked their work.
While C-1 and fuego tackled the animated sequence (with lots of more-or-less welcome input from me), I set to work trying to repair the credit graphics. The only catch: I don’t have the list anymore. I had given it to those guys. I hope I can track it down, or people may be left out. Also, I don’t have the original layered file they used to create the credit graphics, so I spent much of the afternoon trying to reconstruct the original background graphic using bits and pieces of various credit screens. So, I was a bit grumpy as I worked away trying to fix mistakes I felt were unnecessary. Also, I was getting hungry.
The good news for the credits is, now that we are not so strictly bound to the 1-minutes for credits rule, names will stay on the screen long enough for people to read them.
Progress on the credits was slow. We were trying to put all the transitions to the beats of the drum, and use the music as a guide. For one drum roll we created a stop-action animation feel, zooming in and sweeping north along the treasure path. (Note to self – I think we tried to travel too far on those beats). We were not done with the credits when the guys who own the place said they had to go. They had given up a large chunk of their Saturday to be there. They made sure all our stuff was squared away so they could transfer the project to another machine, then gently kicked us out. That was fine with me, I was starving by then.
The first step now is to make the slightly longer, more polished version of the flick that showed at the shootout. The next step, which may take weeks, is to beg, borrow, and steal time to recut the movie the way it should be. Big Byte, a data storage company here in town that hosted the original editing for the shootout, will have one station available for crews to use. They are very generous to make that available, but we had wanted to edit on our own gear on our own schedule. Unfortunately this is impossible as we are not allowed to copy any media from the original shoot. (Not to self: I bet Coppola has copies of his original footage.)
I will probably not wait here for the full version to be completed. I have places to go, people to see, and a language to unforget. It’s summer in Prague. I need an agent. I need a bar with cheap beer within walking distance of the place I’m sleeping. I need to write something.