Like all super powers it is vital that it is used for good!
I can't speak for all editors, but for the few I have worked with and know well, this is definitely their super power.
It's not that we don't want to put anything on an empty timeline. As if the thick feeling of the looming deadline isn't enough to get your heart racing and creative juices flowing. I think that learning all about the inner workings of why the universe is so vast is just cool and it is definitely essential that instead of going through the hundreds of hours of footage required I should definitely first scroll through every single Bansky artwork ever created. Ever. Yes I should definitely do that first.
Photo Credit:Laura Goehner (Sundance Utah)
I've always thought I was broken, destined to only work well under pressure or let's be honest the sheer terror of an impending deadline. Our job is outcome based, it's obvious what you've done or haven't, so adding the pressure to exceed expectations of what is required of the output seems like a game of creative roulette...so why the actual F do we do it? The procrastinate bit I mean. The job part I totally get, it's really fulfilling, adds meaning etc, but come on it's like some kind of drug this whole procrastination BS.
Why do we chat at length in the hallway about anything really, knowing that in a few hours there'll need to be something amazing on the timeline. Yet I'll have an undeniable urge to go make a cup of tea.
I'll tell you why...
Because, I'll be stirring the cup, and bang it will hit me, somewhere in the recesses if my brain, a tiny little dim light will shimmer, an idea will bust out for a scene long discarded unexpectedly being reignited. Suddenly the shot I saw this morning and the song I heard three nights ago that will now work perfectly with the scene that wasn't working and couldn't be linked as a bridging moment to the bigger narrative of my arc, dear god, can it be? It's all going to come together... all because I dropped the spoon, the way the teaspoon landed leaving drops of tea on the counter, reminded me of a discarded phantom shot of a leaf with droplets of water reflecting its surrounding somewhere in the expanse of the delta (not a scene just a lone moment). But now it's definitely going to match as a transitional metaphorical moment leading into the flood scene that hasn't made any sense up until this moment and I definitely think the ending of that one song I couldn't make work from that soundtrack on that other scene will now be perfect for this new scene I'm about to cut as soon as I can hall ass back into my cutting room not stopping to talk to anyone because there's work to be done. I have found my zone! It's a thing of beauty when it shows itself. That little glimmer turns into a blinding ball of sun rays, one idea morphing into many and when you lift your head up before you know it, you have a timeline so full of blocks it makes your puzzle look so dazzling it shocks even you.
You see fellow procrastinators, that is why I definitely needed to scroll all the Banksy artwork this morning and I for sure needed to download three more soundtracks from features films and series I haven't even watched yet. Most definitely.
But the question still remains, why does Procrastination help the creative process so much, though? Recently a very good friend of mine Susan Scott (https://www.sdbfilms.com) sent me a Ted talk, she titled it, "Don't laugh, this is us, please watch to the end, it all makes so much sense"! I had watched it a couple of years back feeling like Tim Urban was talking directly to me. I had chuckled silently at the notion but again it had stuck in the back of my brain, filed away for later. I watched it again now with new eyes. I came to the realisation that I am many things. One of them being that I am also a contradiction! I am super organized. I live for a neat and well structured project but my notes are also generally all over the place. I search for music while also doing stringouts, I usually know what music is going where before I even begin editing, I know the tone and style before I've seen all the shots. I mostly cut the ending of the film first (once I've seen all the footage), I hardly ever cut the opening first and I almost always cut the middle last, there are exceptions, depending what I'm doing of course. I find watching trailers at nauseam inspires me, combing soundtracks is definitely a key to getting into the zone and if there is a "watch these 10 amazing opening sequences youtube clip" I might dabble going down a rabbit hole for a while only coming up for air when the sun has set way below the horizon. My best work is done super early in the morning yet inspiration and ideas come late at night - yeah I know right....I have however never missed a deadline, even when I am at my most procrastinator-y. If someone does try to mess with my mojo and process I do tend to become honey badger-ish and quite feral.
I am a procrastinator, I'm not sure I will ever be able to be any other way. But I also know this is my super power.
See the TED Talk that sparked this conversation:
You might be one of us too. Join the club, it's fun here, we learn to bake chocolate cream cookies, build tree houses, making a Christmas wreath from nothing but recycled bits, filling our brains with making small talk facts all while still screeching into making our deadlines ;-) oh and we know ALL the best soundtracks to cut to.
PS: It's also probably why I'm writing this blog...
When an editor produces and directs there is a fun term we are known as, the PrEditor (an obvious play on the word Predator). The first time I was called this, I was both shocked and insulted. Being a lean into the slide kind of person and of course living well within the wildlife genre, I now love this term, regardless of how it was originally meant. Enter me, the "Preditor". This blog is a place I hope to create a journal space for my ideas, thoughts and stories of the cutting room as well as out in the natural world.