When I received a call from my agent telling me about Wolves a high school basketball movie and family drama directed by Bart Freundlich, I thought to myself, “the last two editors this guy worked with are Christopher Tellefsen and John Gilroy, no way am I getting this job!” But after a good meeting, I found myself accepting the job! I was excited because it is a sports film, which I had never done and it featured great actors including Michael Shannon, Carla Gugino and newcomer Taylor John Smith in the lead.
Following in the footsteps of those legendary editors I knew I would have to bring my best efforts. Wolves was only my second film back in the Avid world after completing six features on other software. Luckily, it did not take long to find my sea legs. I used many techniques and tools specific to Media Composer during this job.
In my timeline I separate the scenes over the course of the film by color. I assign each location two colors—one for day and one for night. This not only makes for a colorful timeline, but is useful in identifying patterns in story and how the film is paced. Each film’s look is unique and in this particular one you can see after a fairly typical display of recurring locations the film ends in one long streak of purple punctuated only twice. This represents the final climactic basketball game, which is not only about the outcome but bringing all of our other storylines to their conclusion.
A particular challenge in this film was the amount of footage shot at high frame rates. It was planned to shoot one game this way so that I could speed and slow down the footage at will in the middle of takes to create an unsettling effect that represented our hero’s state of mind. The footage was shot at either 48fps or 60fps and most of it with two cameras. I had the assistant prep the footage as multicam groups and retimed to 24fps so it could be synced with sound and I could then match frame all the way back to the original footage whenever I desired to shift to slow-mo.
It worked great! After seeing the results of an early cut the director decided to shoot a lot more of the film this way. He liked the option to show something in slow-mo and he also liked the high shutter speed look of the footage when retimed. It meant a lot more work for my assistant but allowed a great deal of flexibility with how to stylize the film not only on the basketball court but in the real world scenes as well.
Only time will tell if I lived up to my predecessors. You tell me after seeing Wolves due out later this year…