Moving Pictures
Feb 02, 2024, 06:29AM

The Assembly Cut

Monica makes a new deadline for Nicky: Leap Day 2024.

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MRAAAAHHHH!!! I am become beast, slayer of RATS. Chickens can act much as cats if given the chance—an aphorism of mine from another lifetime, one I might’ve sold in a wastebasket on Lexington Ave. Another starving bum. ARE YOU HUNGRY? Said the old British man wearing sunglasses and tweed, flexing his muscles in the rain. Understand all of this stream of consciousness inanity is part of the movie, and as an editor I have to deal with its chaos every day. Putting in what little time I had into organizing and labelling clips wasn’t enough, things weren’t moving, and a new deadline was demanded of both of us by me in order so that we make this movie on time. Or else. OR ELSE! We won’t be having fun anymore.

Part of the problem of editing this movie is that it has no script, just discreet segments and a rough order of where they should go. There’s a couple that can be scrapped if necessary, and while most of them are straightforward narrative scenes with dialogue to be dubbed (by me, later), there are several key sequences early on that demand a considerable amount of editorial creativity on my part. So I have to get in the mood. The Boss won’t let me stay up past Chicken but when he gives me his drives I go insane. Every penny spent on the colorist will be wasted because I’ve spent more time grading dailies than assembling a cut that we can show. This movie is supposed to premiere in the spring and I don’t think we’re halfway done yet.

But the beginning is set, and it still hasn’t gotten old. Every time The Boss comes in sulking, I remind him of those first 10 minutes, which were just five minutes at first, those minutes we turned into 15 minutes that became 20 minutes of the beginning of a fucking killer movie. This is the kind of bullshit you have to tell yourself—and “The Boss”—in order to live, in order to make it through the day. One can only spend so much time fiddling with equalizers and hobnobbing with buttons before you become lazy and dishonest, a tired wreck of a human being closer to a computer and far lonelier. Is it in these moments when you’re alone with the footage that you think of destroying it all? Never, what kind of sick freak would think such a thing? All of us. Every editor. The intrusive thoughts never stop.

In all of this there is a movie, but what kind of movie—how good or bad—I can’t tell yet, and I have to stress how unusual that is for an editor. Usually I can get an assembly cut done in 10 days with a reasonable, healthy schedule, but only as long as the film follows the Hollywood Monoform. This one I’m making, right now, by, you guessed, “The Boss,” is harder to carve. But he gave me as much freedom as I want—ALL! MRRAAAAHHH!!! In the end the film will be one of colors and ecstatic sunshine. Remember this when it crosses water.

—Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @MonicaQuibbits


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