Episode 6: “The Cutting Room Floor”

The Cutting Room Floor is legendary in Hollywood. Whole careers have happened there. In fact, there’s a whole weird history in Hollywood of scenes and actors who famously never made “the cut”. Kevin Costner, for instance, was entirely cut out of “The Big Chill“. He plays Alex – the guy who’s funeral all the other characters are attending. In that vein, this episode is about scenes rescued from the cutting room floor

Video and DVD’s changed everything. One could rent or buy the studio’s cut or “The Director’s Cut”. Finally, the director could put out the extended movie they envisioned with all the scenes the studio cut out. Often that was great. Sometimes though you saw the studio’s wisdom.

Film v Video

Back then, we shot on film, cut on digital then transferred back to film for the release. Digital editing began in 1985 when Quantel produced its limited “Harry” compositor. Things got rolling two years later (1987) when Avid released its Avid/1 Media Composer. Cutting on video was revolutionary of course. You could see dissolves and freeze frames in real time. Before, you’d see dissolves laid out in yellow grease paint drawn across the literal film.

Filming the movie gets all the attention. But, it won’t be until we deliver all the filmed footage to the editing suite – and the editor performs their magic – that it will become “a movie”. Or a TV show.

And it can blow your mind what exactly can happen in an editing suite. There’s a story in this episode about executive producer Bob Zemeckis cobbling together a scene we never shot. He took scraps from the cutting room floor to imply a lesbian sexual encounter between Angie’s character and Erika’s. One pickup shot was all it took to marry it all together in the audience’s head.

That simple cross (filmed using two extras instead of the actors) ties it together perfectly. It really is like seeing how magic tricks work. And at the hands of a magician – our boss Bob Zemeckis.

Ain’t Podcasting Grand!

To be absolutely honest, I hadn’t planned to include an episode like this when I laid out the podcast initially. I knew as I interviewed Gil Adler and Ed Tapia and Greg Melton and Victoria Burrows and Todd Masters and Colleen Nystedt (and Randall Thropp – Randall is a podcast unto himself he’s got so many stories!) that they were giving me way more incredible content than I could possibly use. I figured I’d be the only one who ever knew such gold even existed.

But, hey, podcasts, ya know?

In a sense, this episode really is a monster made up of spare parts – rescued from the cutting room floor But, don’t be afraid! It won’t hurt you. Much…

The How NOT To Make A Movie Podcast: The Making Of Bordello Of Blood S1E6 “The Cutting Room Floor”

One response to “Episode 6: “The Cutting Room Floor””

  1. […] this also is a story about a very real love for movie-making told by movie makers. It’s about what happens when craftspeople find their craft suddenly turning into […]

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