on 12 May 2009
If you are looking for a great book about the creative process in film post production, for both fiction and documentary, you have found it.
When I first read Final Cut, it amazed me - I was expecting discussions about directors' visions, the personality stuff that constitutes much writing about the creative process. Instead I discovered a series of interviews which revealed how films are actually put together. Not the technical business, but the process of discovering how to tell the story for each particular film.
The interviewees in this book, which include Paul Hirsch (Star Wars, Taxi Driver), Dede Allen (Dog Day Afternoon) and Sheldon Kahn (Ghostbusters), describe in direct, unpretentious terms how these movies were put together, and what creative decisions were taken to "get it right".
If you're interested in how films are made, this part of the process is essential to come to grips with. However, it is almost universally left out of DVD extras and directors' commentaries, and with good reason - as a spectator sport it's a dead duck; it involves a lot of talk about intangibles; and editors themselves are generally not forthcoming. Mainly, it's a mystery.
Indeed almost all of the editors here find it very difficult to articulate what is essentially a non-technical art. What they offer though is the insight that it is in the editing room that the most film-specific part of filmmaking happens. It's where the film takes its proper form in time.
Whether you're a film buff hunting for anecdotes (the book has them in spades) or are interested in post production as a career, this is about as good a book as I've yet discovered.