I watched The Red Shoes for the first time last night and was inspired by the artistry and the incredible economy of the film. The film runs 133 minutes but shots don’t linger longer than necessary to tell the story. The whole thing had a surprisingly modern feeling to it and I could see why Martin Scorcese cites it as one of his all-time faves. I could see Martin Scorcese in it! Obviously, ties are strong between him, his work, and this film. His long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker was married to one of the directors of The Red Shoes- Micheal Powell (the other part of the writer/director/producer team being Emeric Pressburger), and she and Scorcese spear-headed the restoration of the film to it’s original Technicolor glory.*

The Red Shoes, 1948

Thinking about The Red Shoes led me to re-edit PINK today.

Awhile ago David and I talked about re-editing the film and entering it in the Toronto Urban Film Festival next year. The big challenge is the film has to be 1 minute long (and silent). Today I got it down to a minute and a half and it’s about a million times better than it’s full length version.

When we made the film, I decided to edit it myself to learn about how shots are put together, etc., but I’ve always believed in the benefits of having an actual editor to work on projects with, and today proved that point is a good one. Not that I’ve become a new editor, but I realized how much of each shot was included just because I had feelings towards it that were left over from either the conception or the shoot, and these feelings ultimately got in the way of making the film better.

I was reminded of Zadie Smith’s thoughts on editing novels, from her collection of essays called Changing My Mind:

“It’s an unfortunate thing, but it turns out that the perfect state of mind to edit your own novel is two years after it’s published, ten minutes before you go onstage at a literary festival. At that moment every redundant phrase, each show-off, pointless metaphor, all the pieces of deadwood, stupidity, vanity and tedium are distressingly obvious to you. Two years earlier, when the proofs came, you looked at the same page and couldn’t see a comma out of place.”

Unfortunately for me, it looks like the best time to edit this short is after it’s been scored and the sound has been mixed! Doh! Oh, well… it’s all about learning. And it’s been a great weekend for me on that level- writing, editing, and generally re-connecting. Tomorrow it’s back to work on set with a distressingly early call time of 5:15 AM…

* For a wonderful review of The Red Shoes (with beautiful pics), check out The Criterion Contraption

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