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The Director's Cut

April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 171

If you have a large collection of DVDs and are a huge film buff, it goes without saying that you've heard of the director's cut. If you're just starting in film school, you'll find that it's quite common to have different versions of a finished film. A film will often go through various phases of editing, and as it evolves over time it can sometimes change from the original vision during the production phase.

If you've already shot your film, in most cases you've compiled a version that is based on the shooting script, yet may be too long and needs to be whittled down to a serviceable length. This is a typical process for many filmmakers and students in film schools; sometimes the rough cut can be extremely long and has to be tweaked into what's called an editor's cut. This is where the editor takes over and tightens a film down from the rough cut, to make it more accessible. After reviewing the editor's cut, the film goes through another process where it's revised into a final cut which is usually the version that's released in theatres.

Even after a film is shot, edited and released to the public, some filmmakers go back and revise their films in a way that is more to their liking. For example, Francis Ford Coppola recut his classic war film Apocalypse Now over the years from a rough cut that originally lasted almost five hours long before it was cut to its original release length of just over two and a half hours. Then in 2001, he took some of the sequences he had originally removed and revised the film into what he called the Redux version, which runs close to three and a half hours and is now considered the definitive version of his film.

This isn't uncommon for directors to go back and revise their films as sometimes they have to meet studio release deadlines and are under pressure. In film school, I learned how to be economical in terms of creating a cut of a film and that you most certainly have to edit it down from its original length. Sometime a long film works, yet in most cases if you've shot something that at first runs for seven hours, you'll want to condense it to a length of roughly two hours as not many people might have the patience to sit through something that long.

Yet if a film is popular enough, a director will sometimes go back years later and revisit his or her film and create an extended or director's cut. George Lucas has done this with his original Star Wars trilogy with controversial results as many felt the original films should have been left as is. Sometimes fans embrace these changes, while others despise them. In film school, I often watched the final cut of most films as well as the director's cut to determine which worked better. Sometimes I found myself split over whether a director's cut has made an actual impact. Sometimes the adding of extra scenes works, while other times it doesn't.

Filmmakers such as Terrence Malick are known for shooting endless amounts of footage for their films. Malick's The Thin Red Line had a rough cut of close to six hours, and was cut down to just under three, removing many actors entirely from the finished film. This isn't uncommon as many director's shoot a large ration of footage, much of which is never included in the finished product.

Most film schools will inform you that if you have a cut of a film that runs for several hours, it's quite possible that you'll have to trim it to get distributed by a major studio. If this is the case, then hold onto whatever you cut as you can always revise it down the line if the film is a success.

Source: EzineArticles
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