08/29/08Reminder: Fantasy Filmfest: Nuremberg
With the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany well underway, we should point out that you still have at least five more chances to catch Outlander on the big screen. Today's showing has probably already passed but There is a second screening planned for tomorrow (August 30th, 1:00P.M.). Reserve your tickets for tomorrows Nuremberg showing online now.
The Film will be in Frankfurt on Tuesday, and then In Munich on Thursday and Friday. The last two Fantasy Filmfest showings will be on Stuttgart on the following Sunday and Wednesday (the 7th and 10th).
So when exactly will Outlander play in the land in which it takes place? Well, you can ask Euforia who it's been revealed are the distributors for Outlander in Norway. We don't have word on an exact release date but seemingly they are looking at a February/March 2009 release date, which is around the time of the UK release date.
With this story we have a cool little extra too. Check out the Norwegian poster to the right (click the thumbnail for a larger version). It's the same artwork from the international poster, but the layout of the text is altered. It refers to the producers of the Lord of the Rings" but doesn't mention Barie Osborne. It Adds the date and locale of the film at the top, and the names of some of the actors just above the title, as well as the tag line that we've seen from all the preproduction promo material: "Sometimes the legends are true." It changes the hue of the whole piece so the poster has a bit more of a sepia feel and they've added a glowing effect to Kainan's sword for some reason... maybe to make it look more fantasy.
Also we've started a gallery page just for posters and other advertising. You can find it HERE.
08/27/08BREAKING NEWS: DVD Date Confirmed False
Dirk Blackman, Producer and Co-writer of Outlander has been looking into the DVD date issue and has informed us that yes the DVD date is completely eroneous. The Weinstein Company has stated that there is absolutely *NO* official DVD Release date and are infact going to be contacting Amazon and Movies Unlimited to hopefull have the listing either taken down or altered. So all you fans out theere that want to see this movie in wide release please do not put on a defeatist attitude. Let people know you want to see it happen. THere's still hope.
On a similarly interesting note, have a peek at this article over at Defamer in which they talk - based on all the talk of Outlander's release - about the Weinstein Company's releasing habits.
08/27/08Reminder: Fantasy Filmfest - Dortmund
A reminder that tonight is the Outlander screening at the Fantasy Filmfest in Dortmund. We're not entirely sure how the online ticket sales work for the CineStar theater, but in the previous Fantasy Filmfest Outlander screenings the showings have been sold out. Even people with tickets were being refunded because there simply were'nt enough seats! So head down there and catch it if you can.. It might be the last opportunity to see the film in Dortmund for a while.
On another note, we'd like to reiterate that Outlander is *not* going direct to DVD. The nearest we can tell, no date has actually been set for the DVD release so the Amazon listing is possibly spurious. Though they are taking preorders, don't expect to see the DVD come November 18th. And again, The Weinstein Company is contractually obligated to give Outlander a theatrical release. We don't yet know to what extent they'll do so (hopefully not on the level of Death Defying Acts), but we're hoping the reactions out of the fantasty filmfest spur them to action in this matter.
08/23/08Review Round-up - Part 2
Appologies for forgeting to remind everyone of last nights Fantasy filmfest screening in Cologne. Next up the film will be in Dortmund on Wednesday. As promised here are some more reviews that have come out of the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany.
First up is a positive review (in german) here. He goes as far as to say "Outlander was a beautiful, harmonious conclusion of the Fantasy Filmfests".
This one here (german again) is short and sweet and extremely positive and ends by saying "The film is definitely worth a recommendation ..."
DoubleEM submitted a review to Aint it Cool. He also liked the movie but felt there were a few down points. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/38012
"The fights are mostly watchable, the FX are 95% terrific, the acting is solid (Ron Perlman makes one nice attendance here! Jim, although I am kind of a fan, is more on the meh-side), the score is really good and all in all everything you see on screen is good and solid work. The Monster ... is, although obviously influenced by "The Relic", pretty cool..."
Another lucky viewer replied to the review with his own impression:
"Personally I thought the film was great, cool pic that straddles a few different genres well and comes across as a nice mixture of Predator/Braveheart/Beowulf, but still feeling pretty original on it own. Everything here is handled a hell of a lot more intelligently than what you'd expect from a movie which is essentially 'Giant Alien Vs Vikings', cast did a good job, and the kid was fine (he has like 3 lines in the entire film) Basically anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi Action/Adventure done well should be looking forward to checking this one out when (and if) they get the chance, It's a fun film. "
Here's another middle of the road review. The reviewer seems to have had fun with the film but in the end rated it a 3 out of five citing Caviezels performance as a downside stating that he thought he was way too serious and one noted.
08/22/08QUESTION: Outlander DVD in November? -
EDIT: Got word from one of the films producers. The Weinstein Company is at the very least contractually obligated to a limited Theatrical release for Outlander. I hope everyone can breath slightly easier now. Still don't know about the accuracy of the November DVD date though.
Hey all, AD here. I'm going to break from the norm and personally post this news update. If this is true I find it a little disturbing actually... as in, what are the Weinsteins Smoking? News has come to me by way of DreadCentral that Amazon has listed a region 1 Outlander DVD for presale with a supposed release date of November 18th.
Now first I must say advance release dates like this are subject to change, but if this is indeed a true release date for the DVD, is there a day and Date blu-ray? Does this somehow coincide with a limited theatrical release anywhere? Where's the official press release regarding the film's release date? I realize that the Weinsteins may not have the funds to properly promote the movie anyway, but I fail to see how that justifies not giving the movie a chance, not unlike the Weinstein Company's other recent "engineered flops." (For example, does a 30mil feature only making $50000 at the box office count as a flop if they only ever showed it in two theaters?). Grrrrrrrrrr! On a positive note, I'll be posting another round up containing some very positive reviews of the flick from the first round of Germany's Fantasy film fest later this evening.
Sound off on this over at our forum. Let us know how you feel about this.
08/22/08Outlander set to invade the UK
There aren't any details on the extent of the release but Outlander seems prepped to launch in the UK on February 20th, 2009. Mark your calendars and be ready for a monster-smashing good time.
In other UK related Outlander news, here's a tidbit we missed unfortunately: It seems that almost imediately after the Locarno premiere, Jack Huston and Dirk Blackman both high-tailed it back to the UK. For what reason? According to this report, apparently there was some kind of 'Movie-Con Weekend' at the BFI Southbank in London. While we don't believed they actually screened the film (clips possibly), on Sunday, August 17th lucky viewers were treated by Momentum Pictures (Outlander's UK distributor) to a presentation on the film by it's star and it's co-writer.
08/20/08Outlander: Fantasy Filmfest
The first round of Outlander screenings in the Fantasy Filmfest have been a success! The Hamburg showing and the first showing in berlin were completely sold out (Don't know about the second Berlin screening yet). Here's a short and sweet review from a lucky festival-goer (appologies for the rough translation job):
"13th Warrior goes to space and kicks some dragon ASS"
"What fun! For the enjoyment of genre fans, the film has everything: a coherent story, good effects, good actors, who enjoy joy the work, Gore & Splat, very nice combat sequences to watch."
"There isn't a boring minute. Ok , if some of the story elements seem familiar: the screenplay writers availed themselves only with the best ones - others call it homage."
"An all around fun film!"
Look here for a few more Fantasy Filmfest impressions.
08/18/08Reminder: Fantasy Filmfest
If you are in Germany and are going to attend the Fantasy Fimfest, don't forget to Check out Outlander. It should have already screened in Hamburg today, But will be showing in Berlin at 19:15 tomorrow, and 19:45 on Wednesday. Buy your tickets to the screenings online now: Berlin Aug. 19th ; Berlin Aug. 20th
08/16/08Locarno Review Round-up
Despite the persisting threat of Rain, The Outlander Premiere took place as planned on the Piazza Grande. As such, the reviews are begining to trickle down from the various news agencies, and there is good news. Genre fans look like they're in line for exactly what they've been hoping. The actual reviews run the spectrum from mediocre to extremely enthusiastic.
Variety's Derek Elley was decidedly mediocre about the film. He was not taken with Caviezels performance, or the Dialogue, and felt the first half of the film played out too slowly. However he did like the effects, and commented that the production and costume design felt authentic. Doesn't sound like he hated it, but rather felt it was derivative.
Another Swiss movie site outnow.ch was more enthusiastic. He mentions that there are many thrilling moments that look visually great. He also felt the monster was very impressive. While he says the film was far from bad, he was disapointed that after Kainan's crash, that the story didn't use more science-fiction elements in what is essentially a Viking story. While he found some elements of the story fairly standard, in all he found it to be a well acted film with "a very nice-looking monster, some gripping horror scenes, [and] epic battles."
Saving the best for last, we have a very positive review from The Hollywood Reporter:
"It's entertaining nonsense with major league special effects, larger-than-life characters and inventive monsters that draw on the "Aliens" and "Predator" models, being terrifying but also vaguely sympathetic. All the crafts are topline in the film with the highly convincing Moorwen designed by Patrick Tatopolous and visual effects supervised by David Kuklish. Many scenes are subterranean and under water with Pierre Gill's cinematography paying off handsomely."
"The film had its world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival and, handled suitably by the Weinstein Company in the U.S. and Wild Bunch internationally, it should do crowd-pleasing business all around."
"Bottom Line: A rousing good time with a futuristic monster taking on the Norsemen"
08/13/08Outlander Scene - Online Now
The first scene - a neat glipse at Kainan's interogation by Wulfric - from Outlander is now online (Thanks to Maria from sophiamyles.org for the heads-up). It's a cool glimpse at the tone of the film as well as some of the style and music direction. Have a watch below and then let us know what you think over at the Forum.
Also, in case you missed them, don't forget to check out the Trailers. We have some slightly hight quality quicktime versions available, and they even fix the typo in the international version. Also if you haven't read it, don't forget to check out the great interview we did a week or so ago with Outlander's Editor, David Dodson. You can read it HERE.
08/11/08Plan Ahead: Buy Your Outlander Tickets Now
Going to be in Switzerland or Germany in the Next few weeks? Well, then don't miss out on an oportunity to see Outlander. Buy your Locarno Piazza Grande at any 'Ticket Corner' or visit their site online to buy your passes now. Note that they offer various packages that give you access to differing types of events and different numbers of screenings so make sure you get the ones that most fit your needs. The Above link should be good for a pass to the Piazza Grande screenings on the 15th.
If you're planning on attending the Fantasy Filmfest in Germany, Ticket sales for the Outlander Screenings in the first two sets of cities are online now! All tickets cost eight Euros.
The Hamburg Screening at the CinemaxX Dammtor on the 18th should also be available from Cinemaxx' website though at the moment it we can't find the specific page for it.
Presale Tickets for the Outlander Screenings in Dortmund and Cologne Also go online today:
Cologne August 21st - Not entirely sure how their ticket sales work but you can find more info about the venue here.
With the Locarno Festival getting underway, anticipation for Outlander's premiere is building. For example, Screen Daily published this recent article in which they singled out eight of their most anticipated films from the Piazza Grande, and Outlander makes the cut!
"this Locarno world premiere is a high-concept genre yarn that looks destined for cult status."
08/07/08OUTLANDER - Locarno Press Kit
Frenetic, the Swiss distributor of OUTLANDER has put together a press kit for the film for the Festival. You can download it here or here. It includes the international poster, details about the Locarno screenings, and twenty-one pages of official production notes! As such this document is a must read. Be warned though. The included synopsis contains some medium grade spoilers.
There are a number of fascinating details to be found here. Here's a few highlights:
Ascendant Pictures hired Ninth Ray Studios to do the concept art long before any of the films financing was in place because they liked it so much.
Outlander, in the end, counts over 600 effects shots.
Because of the reported accuracy and care in creating the main Viking village for the film, the archeology school at Dalhousie University in Halifax requested to take possession of the buildings.
08/06/08Locarno Press Conference
As part of the lead-up to OUTLANDER's premiere in the Piazza Grande portion of the Locarno Film Festival, there will be a press conference on the 15th of August at 12 noon. Stars Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Director-co-writer Howard McCain, co-writer Dirk Blackman, and Producer Chris Roberts will all be part of the conference. We're personally unable to attend so hopefully someone takes a video of the whole event. OUTLANDER itself will be showing that evening in the impressive outdoor Piazza Grande venue.
08/04/08International trailer - Spanish Dub
The Spanish Distributor has brought to light a Dubbed version of the International Trailer for Outlander. It's kind of fun listening to the voices they picked to represent the various actors in the film. What's perhaps a little more exciting is that they also provided a downloadable quicktime version that is of slightly higher resolution than the streaming ones we've seen previously. Download it HERE or HERE, or watch the streaming flash version below.
As the Locarno Festival approaches, more info is continually added to the festival site HERE. Some of what's come to light is that there's actually two screenings of OUTLANDER at the festival. The film will also be showing on the 14th at 9:00 P.M. in the Kursaal theater. The catch is that it will be a press screening and won't be open to the public. However, whereas the Piazza Grande screening will be in english with French subtitles, the Kursall showing adds a simultaneus italian language track (somehow).
The one we've been talking about for the most part is the big Piazza Grande showing on the 15th. Word is that Howard McCain, Dirk Blackman, Sophia Myles, and Jack Huston will all be attending. There may yet be others but it's going to be big. Other details ofThe Festival site also offers up this slightly different plot description:
A boat containing the remains of King Halgaris is burning at sea, in a funeral rite for a valiant Viking chief. But nobody is brave enough to succeed him, not even his son Wiglif, or his brother Rothgar, who is however crowned king. Then a mysterious spaceship lands near the village, bearing Kainan, a warrior from Outland, accompanied against his will by Moorwen, a bloodthirsty monster! Combining science-fiction with Scandinavian legends, Outlander is a thriller in a new genre in which the Nordic landscapes of the Viking era become the site of breathtaking special effects. In scripting the film, Howard McCain imagined the consequences of the appearance of a creature from Alien or Predator in Viking times. Moorwen, the monster in question, was drawn by Patrick Tatopoulos, creator of the extra-terrestrials in Independence Day.
08/01/08OSN Exclusive Interview: David Dodson, Editor
With Outlander begining to roll out in Europe, we decided to sit down (figuratively) with Outlander's Editor, David Dodson to discuss the Challenges of cutting a multi-genre feature film of a grand scale. In the future you'll be able to find this article in our Articles section or directly at it's permanent home HERE.
Can you introduce yourself to us? What got you into the film industry and editing in particular?
My love for cinema started when I was five years old and my mom took my brother and I to go see "2001: A Space Odyssey." All decisions regarding my future were made during that film. That was it. Game over.
Editing happened almost accidentally. I had directed a short film. The DP was a super-talented guy named John Pirozzi. John has just directed a music video and was looking for someone to edit it. Since I owed him for DP'ing my short, I volunteered. Well, that music video went on to get nominated for an MTV VMA award. Soon I was getting calls to cut things. First more music videos. Then commercials. Then reels and documentaries. But of course, most editors want to cut features and I was certainly no different.
What are some of the other projects you've been attached to?
I've just finished this lunatic comedy called HITLER KAPUT! It's a Russian film about a Russian spy embedded in Gestapo headquarters in Berlin during the last days of World War II. Truly one of the funniest films I've ever seen. It opens in Russia in September then begins its move west. I would look for it in the U.S. next Spring.
Next I'm doing a romantic comedy in New York City called BOYS & GIRLS. And after that I'm supposed to do a big medieval castle siege movie called IRONCLAD. Great cast. Sir Richard Attenborough is attached to be in it and, frankly, that's all I needed to hear.
I actually recently watched the Russian trailers for Hitler Kaput! It looks pretty crazy... Hilariously whacky really. How do you find editing comedy compares to the action scenes in Outlander?
For me, cutting comedy and cutting action are exactly the same task. One little hiccup in timing an either the joke goes flat or, in the case of action sequences, the audience experiences an interruption in rhythm that takes the teeth out of the sequence.
That said, comedy is different. There's no use pretending that it's not. And either you're funny or you're not. Either you "get" what makes comedy work or you don't. And even then, humor is such an individual thing that a joke that you think is bullet-proof will land with a thud once you get it in front of an audience. And vice-versa.
When I cut comedy I generally tend to do less experimentation. After seeing the dailies and talking with the director, it's very easy for me to "see" the scene before I make so much as a single cut. I'm already laughing while watching dailies. And then it's just a matter of letting it happen as cleanly and as clearly as possible. Because comedy needs air and light to thrive. Basically, you just want to get out of the way. The fancier you get the more you kill the comedy.
What inspires you in your work? What would you say your influences are?
I used to date a girl who got her Masters in Cognitive Development. And while we were together all I wanted to do was read her text books. I've always been fascinated by who we are and why we do the things we do. The simple miracle of daily life is a lifetime curriculum. And the cinema -- when it's good -- gives us ways to explore and understand who we are. Film editing IS that experience. When you edit, you are looking in to the eyes and the hearts of the actors, looking for what is true and what is false. And then you are shaping that in to something seamless, invisible, and compelling.
My influences are any films that move me. In the end, editing should be invisible. The only thing that matters is a viewer's emotional experience. Whatever gets in the way of that experience is bad editing. Whatever stands aside and makes room for it is good editing.
How did you become involved with Outlander? What was it about the project that appealed to you?
I got involved with OUTLANDER because I had done work for the company that produced the film. I had never cut a film for them but I was friends with the principles and had cut a number of promotional reels on other projects for them. I got a call one day to go meet with Howard McCain about cutting a promotional reel for OUTLANDER, to help raise money. It turned out that Howard and I are the same age and, while he grew up in Syracuse and I grew up in Dallas, we had roughly the same movie-appreciation experiences as kids. We both loved JAWS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. So we got along.
After we finished the promotional reel, they hired me to do animatics for OUTLANDER. So if you look carefully in the credits, I'm in there twice, once as editor, and then hidden way down there under "Animatics". Anyway, by this time, I really loved the movie. I loved the sheer, audacious movieness of the film. Vikings. Aliens. All those things than can ONLY happen in the movies. And so I couldn't imagine NOT cutting it. So Howard really went to bat for me and helped lobby the producers to give me this chance. Eventually, they surrendered, maybe because they had so many other bigger things to worry about. But I got the job and worked like a coal miner. It was great.
Outlander has a number of varied elements, from horror, action, adventure, romance, drama, sci-fi and more. The most talked about though is it's combination of period film with science fiction. Normally, do you think you would approach editing for these two genres different? What challenges did this melding of genres present in striking a balance between these elements?
There has been a lot of conversation about this idea -- the notion that OUTLANDER's seemingly unholy marriage of genres is a great challenge. But for me, it was never an issue. Editing is a search for truth, for authenticity, and for the musical rhythm that tells a story. So when dailies show up on your Avid you're looking for the exact same quality of honesty and spontaneity whether it's a two-room parlor drama or an alien beast freak-out.
The process of editing a feature is often about finding out what the true heart of the story is and pruning away everything that's not that. But if you prune too much you're left with a withered, anemic skeleton. But if you don't prune enough, then the audience is left having to machete their way through the jungle of your story, probably to just get lost and give up. So it's a challenge. And in OUTLANDER's case, the script was actually chock full of scenes that ultimately got pruned away as we searched for the best possible expression of that story.
It's also worth mentioning that we had a contractual running time that we had to meet. So we were not afforded the luxury of indulging ourselves. Some things that had to be sacrificed were really terrific. And it's heartbreaking when that happens. But the film really crackles now and in the end that's what really matters.
Nearly a year ago, Don Carmody mentioned Outlander was (in a rough cut) nearly three hours long! I think the current film plays at 115 minutes. That's a lot of sequences to pare out. Did you and Howard also work out an "extended" cut of the movie for the DVD market? At the very least it sounds like there's a lot of material for the bonus features section...
Now now, Don knows better than to make anything out of the fact that the first cut was over three hours long (in fact, exactly 3 hours and 13 minutes). Every movie starts off life a whole lot longer than what ends up on screen. Sometimes this has to do with whole scenes that go away. But more often than not it has to do with the fact that most editors tend to deliberately do a "kitchen sink" first cut. You put in every line, every action, every beat, extra coverage, everything. Because usually the director wants and needs to see everything. Remember, the director is emerging from the tornadic experience of shooting. This director is exhausted, excited and terrified. And sometimes he is suffering from a self-inflicted amnesia, convinced as he is that he just shot PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE meets MANOS, HANDS OF FATE.
But the director usually wants to see it all. So you give it to him, always knowing that a third of this is going to go away, sometimes with the excision of entire scenes or sequences, sometimes just by tightening scenes.
In OUTLANDER's case, yes, there were a number of scenes that went away. And for all kinds of reasons. But the truth is that as we tightened and tightened, most written and shot scenes ended up in the movie.
As far as an "extended" cut is concerned, no, Howard and I did not work out any other version. First, there simply wasn't time. But second, and more important (and I'm speaking for myself only here) I feel we ended up with the right cut for this movie. We tested slightly longer versions and they simply never did as well as the 115 minute cut. Maybe we didn't have a chance to really break the back of a longer cut. But again, this is all subjective.
What scenes were the hardest to lose to get the film down to the contractual length? Were there other sequences that you would have liked to spend more time on but ended up compressing?
I'm absolutely the least sentimental guy in the world when it comes to scenes getting shorter. Most movies are far too long anyway. So I'm very happy when I can create a graceful, full-bodied scene that is tight and affecting. But you have to know when to let it breathe and when to crack the whip on it.
One of the scenes I was sad to see get shorter was a lovely moment early in the film in which John Hurt tells Jack Huston the story of how Shield Hall was founded. And Hurt is one of the very best there is. I could watch him read a thousand page House appropriations bill. And here Hurt's wistful remembrance in this particular scene was really beautiful. Ultimately, however, it just took too long, breaking up the overall rhythm of a multi-scene sequence and taking the audience out of the Kainan story for too long. But I really hated to see that go.
How would you describe your working relationship with Outlander's director? Some directors are very abstract, describing things more emotionally rather than explicitly whereas others know exactly what they're shooting for.
Philosophically-speaking, I believe that it's the editor's job to help bring a director to his vision and then take him beyond it. That said, every director is different. In Howard's case, having him in the editing room is a genuine pleasure. Heaven knows I've worked with directors of whom just the thought of them walking through the door is enough to make you sink into bitterness and loathing. But Howard is himself a terrific editor. And that's when it's good. And since we already shared a common appreciation for a common roster of films, we had an available shorthand that made fleshing out an idea that much easier.
By the time Howard and I got to actually spend quality time together cutting, I had already completed a full cut of the picture. And so then we would go in to the scenes and really start digging in to what they wanted to be. Howard would often say something like, "What if we were to lose three frames from the tail of that second shot?" I'd do it. And it would either get better or it wouldn't. But I never minded his specificity because he has a great sense of when it was working and when it wasn't. And that's a rare thing.
Howard and I didn't really get in to much abstract philosophical discussion. Sure, at times there were these umbrella conversations about sequences, acts, and the overall motion of the story. But by the time you're into the nitty-gritty of cutting, most of that stuff is already well-understood and what you're doing is trying to create the physical balance, the physical rhythm, the physical proportions of the scenes so that they become an inevitable, cascading self-animated thing.
But in the end, Howard bled out the eyeballs for this film and that's something that demands respect. I would carry my Avid through fire for him.
Can you walk us through the general process of editing a scene for outlander? How much creative license were you allowed in how you cut together the various sequences?
With OUTLANDER nearly every scene was shot with three or more cameras running simultaneously. During the shield dance scene as well as during Gunnar's Raid, there might be as many as six cameras shooting at the same time. So when you're dealing with a tsunami of dailies like that, your first and most important job is to make sure you have a great assistant. I was very lucky to have two amazing assistants. First, Ehren Davis in Halifax. and then Andrea Zondler in Los Angeles. They make it possible for you to be able to do any work at all. So... big shout-out to two heroes!
Naturally, every editor has his or her own way of approaching a scene. I like to watch every last take down to the frame several times before I start making cuts. I don't make notes. I don't make a go-to reel. I tend to memorize the footage, building the scene in my head. And then I go do it. And the result is my first draft. Inevitably I've missed something or I've forgotten a shot I wanted to use in a certain way, and so I go back and keep shaping. And I watch what I've done, over and over and over -- even if it's just one cut. Because what I'm really trying to achieve is invisibility and inevitability. And then when I can finally watch the scene and either laugh or be moved or get excited and otherwise forget that I had anything to do with it, then I know I'm getting close to having it right.
Fortunately, I have been blessed to work with directors and producers who have given me great trust and confidence in handling their precious footage. I've always had full creative license to create the scene, the sequence, the story in the editing room. There are scenes in OUTLANDER that I cut in Halifax during shooting that did not change one single frame and are in the final film as I originally cut it. It's very satisfying when it happens because it means that everyone did their job -- the director, the actors, the make-up people -- everyone. And me!
A lot of recent action films use a lot of quick cutting to make the films feel frenetic. Can you describe the editing style you used on Outlander?
When it comes right down to it, so much of the "editing style" of a film is determined by the director and DP. As an editor, I inherit their design. And whereas, as editors we have a lot of freedom to alter that design, some things are just baked in to the DNA of a shot, and that's just something you have to live with, for better or worse.
For this movie, Howard wanted a richly cinematic feel, with composed shots and elegant movement. But he also wanted the disorienting frenzy associated with being in the middle of a swirling maelstrom. So when cutting, it's often important that the audience has an absolute sense of geography. Where is the monster? Where is Kainan? Is Wulfric over here or over there? Naturally, you play with these questions to build suspense and excitement but these are some of the things that determine how fast or how slow the shots are going by.
For me, I have no particular dogmatic devotion to any one style. The 'Bourne' movies are amazing. I love the way they handle their action scenes. But I also love Gregory Peck's and Charlton Heston's nocturnal fist-fight in THE BIG COUNTRY. Each method of shooting and cutting perfectly served the essence of that particular story.
Is there any particular scene in Outlander that you think really stands out, or that you are particularly proud of?
Well, without giving too much away, there is a scene at the beginning of the third act that was originally designed to play in one longer stretch. And for the longest time, we were all having trouble trying to decode the ending of the film. It was a real puzzle of competing values that was proving very hard to solve. But then I came up with the notion of taking a particular moment out of that longer scene and moving it to near the end of the movie. And when I tried it, it added a much more focussed beam of emotional energy to the ending. I give myself a pat on the back for that one.
I'm sorry to be so cryptic about it but to say anything more would simply ruin the fun of seeing it for yourself!
Theres's so much footage, takes, and scenes to keep track of on a production of this scale. There's A cameras, B camera's, second units, pickup shots etc? How do you manage all the data and keep it organized so that it comes into a cohesive whole?
As I mentioned above, the job is too big for one person. On OUTLANDER I had my editorial assistant (Ehren and then Andrea). But we also had two VFX editors as well as an editorial PA. All of these people keep the pipelines moving and organized so that I have what I need to cut the movie.
Of course, I have very specific ways that I like to name the shots and the takes. It gives me a quicker mnemonic reference. But as silly and as mundane as it sounds, it's all about organization. And on a movie the size of OUTLANDER, that organization is truly a team effort.
But a final word about this; cutting a movie like OUTLANDER is a 14-hour day, and often much more. There is nothing glamorous about this work. It is coal mining. So you have to love it.
How did the editing process on Outlander compare to other projects you've worked on in complexity?
Any VFX-heavy feature is going to be daunting in its complexity. And this was certainly the biggest movie I've done in terms of budget and sheer scope. But I find this complexity fun and satisfying.
Outlander boasts about 500 VFX shots. What kind of challenges does this add to editing a film when so many of the shots are essentially unavailable at the outset of the editing process?
As everyone knows, in these kinds of films, the VFX pipeline is planned and (hopefully) built even before shooting starts. You should have extensive storyboards as well as animatics for all the major sequences. And then, after shooting, you have shots that need a lot of VFX to finish and some that are just, say, set extensions. In either case, you cut in what you've got. And in those cases where you have nothing, you cut in a card that says "Shot Missing" for about as many frames as you suspect that shot will end up being. Or you cut in a storyboard -- anything to communicate what's supposed to go there.
Then soon, developing iterations, blocking animations, whatever is being generated finds its way to your Avid and you use these pieces to build the scene/moment block by block. At times, emerging VFX shots will reveal something either about the story or about the practical logistics of a shot that you never would have suspected. And that revelation may cause an entirely new round of changes and inspirations. It's a never-ending roundelay that you just have to roll with. And truthfully, what could be more fun?
We understand that Outlander was the first time you've edited a feature film using a system where you were able to work in HD? What were the benefits of switching to such a system for the editing process?
I would get more excited about cutting in HD if the truth is that with this we are really going back to the future. Please remember that before NLE's movies were cut using 35mm workprint. When you put a piece of film on the Steenbeck you were looking at full film resolution material. So, for me, cutting in HD is a bare-minimum requirement of doing this job. For so many years of NLE we've been stuck cutting material that gets seen on a giant screen but cutting it on a SMALL screen in low resolution. It's sad.
But now, with HD in the editing room, we finally are able to get back to being able to see the finest details and the truest nuance of an actor's performance. We are also better able to make critical technical evaluations that are vital to insuring a seamless experience for the audience.
I want to ONLY cut in HD from now on.
At times Outlander has been described, at least tonally and thematically as being like Predator, Highlander, Braveheart, Alien, The Thirteenth Warrior, and even King Kong. Was there any conscious effort to pay homage to other great Sci-fi films or any other possible influences behind the film?
I think what Howard and Dirk have come up with borrows from a whole library of genres and in so doing creates its own unique and wickedly exhilarating niche. I've never once bought in to this idea that audiences have trouble with mixed genres. Not for one second.
"Paying homage" is something that is unavoidable when working in an art form that's been around for over a hundred years. Everything has been done. So quoting from other films is inevitable, whether intentional or not. There are cinematic flourishes that have been so completely incorporated into the basic vocabulary of film that you HAVE to use them.
I can tell you that I did create one deliberate homage -- and that was to one of Howard and I's favorite films, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. During the shoot I was dispatched to co-direct a 2nd unit reshoot of a scene that Howard was unable to get to. The scene involved Rothgar and Boromir hunting in the forest for the Moorwen. On location in the wilds of Nova Scotia, I found this tree stump that looked EXACTLY like Devil's Tower. I knew I had to get it in the movie so I set up a shot that started on the stump from a low-angle then moves to reveal John Hurt and Cliff Saunders stalking what they think is the monster. That was the extent of my homaging.
Every project has difficulties. What would you say were the greatest challenges working on Outlander? How have you grown (and what have you learned) from facing these challenges?
Meeting our contractual running time while crafting an exciting, full-bodied experience -- that was the greatest challenge on OUTLANDER. And what have I learned? Well, anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
Any other thoughts you would like to share about your work on the film? Did you enjoy the process and are you happy with how your work turned out?
OUTLANDER has been a career highlight. I've made great friends and had the opportunity to be a part of a real movie movie, a movie with Vikings and broadswords and alien creatures. It's so uniquely cinematic. And it's very satisfying to be a part of that. I happen to love the movie!
Thanks again David, and keep up the good work. We are really looking forward to seeing this movie. IT looks like a lot of fun. Maybe we can do this again once the film is out and we can talk more about specific sequence and what not.
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