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Moving Pictures
Jan 26, 2024, 06:29AM

Monica and the Couch

Secondhand personal issues get in the way during editing.

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I was minding my own beeswax on Wednesday when Nicky came home all upset. Was it all that cranberry juice? I DON’T THINK SO! But he was mad and a little sad about something, so I ignored him for as long as possible. I was working on a new scene: four women on a bright blue day, all wearing blue jeans and white tops, destroying a black leather couch. It kind of looks like a rape couch. There’s no score—I had to find some wild sound from the score Nicky recorded… there’s dozens of files labeled “JORDANMELO-1,” “NICKYGTR-1,” “NICKYMELO-2,” “JORDANTAPE-2,” alongside all the proper songs, none of which fit the footage he shot.

At the beginning of this process, he gave me few orders: credit sequence against a blown-out shot of the sun, a rough outline of the segments to be used, and some ideas for transitions. Other than that, I was given free reign. Well, good… after being used as a pseudonym for two movies, now I’m actually editing one myself. Hmm… maybe this one will be good for a change.

The whole thing with the couch turned into something pretty cool: I found some distorted trumpets doing a simple Philip Glass arpeggio and laid it on top of the tape delay track of the same recording. It made the whole thing feel triumphant and epic, four women destroying a couch on a beautiful summer day. But there wasn’t enough coverage—Nicky didn’t shoot enough angles, and the ones he did shoot were rather boring. Don’t get me wrong: the establishing shots were great. The sky, the fields, the couch, it looked great. But where was the action? Everything was framed so far away, and all the closeups were out of focus and lit poorly. I mean what the fuck? It was a SUNNY DAY!

Nicky was in so I asked him about the cuts—was there anything else we could use? “Yeah, this is only my half, Roo was shooting that day, too.” What? WHAT WAS ROOSTER DOING IN BALTIMORE? “No, Ralston Finney, my friend and frequent collaborator. She’s shot all of my movies so far. We used two cameras when we did the couch thing because it was a one-shot deal. We didn’t have a second couch. I’m sorry there isn’t enough coverage.” I kept laying into him about this and that, and then he told me that he’d gotten into a fight earlier that night.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Then why did you bring it up? “I’m still heated… I needed a punching-bag… a real one, for a boxer.” Don’t you think you’ll hurt yourself? “What do you mean? I do 100 pushups a day.” I thought it was 90? “…It is 90.” Why did you get into a fight and with who? “…it’s between me and him… I’m not going to talk about it… I’m happy to be embarrassed… knowing what I knew, and frankly, what I know, what I did was not only appropriate but a long time coming…”

I think he wanted me to console him or something, but I reminded him that I’m an employee of his and that he should call someone else, like Leigh Ann or Jack. “Alright, yeah, you’re right, I’m sorry, Monica.” That’s okay, I said. I told him I loved him and kept working on the movie.

—Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @monicaquibbits

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