Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Writing a story after you shoot?

Kevin Shah, a co-founder of Sabi Pictures, wrote an interesting article for Thescriptlab. In this article, Shah talks about a new way of telling a story with film, which he has labeled "Naturalistic Cinema". Essentially, this story-telling technique is rooted in directed improvisation. A writer/director team decide on a basic plot-line and then develop rough pieces of dialogue. Once the basic story schema is in place, actors (with guidance from the director) are allowed to run with the material, infusing it with a conversational rhythm that's natural to them.

After shooting wraps, the story structure is developed through the editing process. Character development, dramatic tension, and the conclusion - in other words - are primarily shaped during post-production. The writer(s), director, and editor(s) work together in the post process story-telling. And so editing, an art that tends to be a one-person operation, organically becomes a collaborative effort. Although I was excited by this new twist in cinematic story-telling and post-production, I couldn't help but think that this approach would be an editing nightmare. It would be a nightmare because new versions of an edit (at least with Apple and Adobe editing software) destroy previous versions - because the history of editing changes are not fully saved.

Thinking about how difficult it would be to keep track of various story versions post process, I was struck by how perfect Novacut's video editor would be for "Naturalistic Cinema". Based on a BZR (open-source version control) principle, the Novacut video editor is designed to branch and merge edits so that editing history is not lost. So a creative team could easily see different edited versions side by side. But more importantly, artists wouldn't have to worry about starting back at square one after getting a wild hair and botching an edit. Imagine being able to work from any point within any edited version at the click of a mouse! Who knows, with editing made this easy, "Naturalistic Cinema" just might become a standard story-telling method in the future.

1 comment:

  1. A very economical but also eloquent articulation of what is, by implication, a potentially revolutionary development.

    In my 'main stream television' days, as producer of about a thousand episodes of soap opera (that was in the 90s) my thinking was already veering in the direction of what Kevin Shah has dubbed "Naturalistic Cinema".

    I look forward to following the evolution on Novacut.