The Challenge of Keeping Down the Duration of Compact Fiction Film ‘Bang du er Død’

‘Bang du er død’, Danish for ‘Bang you’re dead’, is a compact fiction film which I’m delighted to be editing in Copenhagen. The film unfolds from the perspective of a young boy whose violent imagination helps him to bond with a criminal. It draws a stark line between children who play pretend warfare and their less fortunate peers, to whom gun violence is a part of everyday life.

Timeline of ‘Bang du er død’ (Bang you’re dead)

As an editor, I’m very keen on understanding as much as possible about a film during pre-production, when the director’s vision is freshest—untainted by the reality of footage and events from the shoot. There’s also the opportunity to plan the VFX workflow, while sculpting and troubleshooting potential editing/storytelling challenges.  Of course, the edit has to be constructed from what actually makes it through the lens, but since I’m already aware of the director’s ideal choices, I can confidently begin to edit while they take some recovery time out.

In the case of ‘Bang du er død’, Andreas Thaulow (the director) and I were able to draw, act out and test shoot the delicate, first scene to explore what angles, VFX work, audio and grade would be required to sell it to an audience. It’s great fun because the film appears very quickly before you and the ideas are scribbled down all over the script.

Freddie Smith in the edit suite - photo by Péter Becz

This project is supported by Filmværkstedet (the film workshop) from the Danish Film Institute. As well as providing production equipment to selected projects, they are also home to several Avid, Resolve and ProTools suites. It’s a godsend that all of their desks can be raised, because I prefer to stand when I edit drama.

We shot on RED Epic and I’m editing on Avid Media Composer 8 with Mojo DX connected to Avid ISIS shared storage and Interplay for backup and remote login. The edit assistant linked to AMA, then transcoded to DNxHD inside of the Avid, which I find keeps the workflow cleaner. I’m now about half-way through the offline edit and am currently chipping away at the third cut.

In pre-production, the film was designed to be temptingly short enough to watch online. Keeping the duration down can be quite a challenge and we have been forced to be quite brutal, but also creative in the edit. The first cut was eight minutes long and now it’s just over five, though we are open to extending it again if it feels right for the film.

Shooting ‘Bang du er død’ inside a moving taxi, on the back of a low loader in the Vesterbro area of Copenhagen – photo by Péter Becz

Half of ‘Bang du er død’ takes place inside a moving taxi, which was shot on the back of a low loader in the Vesterbro area of Copenhagen. Due to logistics and maintaining the dynamic between the actors, much of their interaction was improvised, which brought refreshing energy to every take and some terrific footage. So far, the editing in that sequence has reflected the energy, but it’s a challenge to keep the continuity of emotion building steadily, which can rise and fall throughout each take.

Objective screenings are difficult to force, so we’ve agreed to take advantage of our loose deadline and bring back fresh eyes to the edit after the summer. I can’t wait to explore the sound design and grading, which hold huge power in this film and we look forward to sharing the film online with you soon… so stay tuned!

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