Just Make Media!


Monday, November 12, 2007


As they say, films are written at least twice -- once by the screenwriter during pre-production and then again by the editor when cutting the film. A story can change radically through this process and nuance can be added or lost.

In this YouTube clip are a few scenes cut and deleted from the 2003 film HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG exquisitely adapted by Shawn Lawrence Otto and edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin (DEAD MEN WALKING, GATTACA, CEDAR HOUSE RULES among others) with voice over by director Vadim Perelman.

Often, story or character exposition is left on the cutting floor for the sake of timing and pacing through the dramatic apex of the film or when it seems plotting and repetitive. However, in this set of deleted scenes, probably the most missed scene cut fom the film is between Ron Eldard (playing the deputy sheriff Lester), Ben Kingsley (playing Behrani) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (playing Nadi).

Editing a film is a reductive process, while writing it is a additive and creative building endeavour. A million decisions have to be made and each could have a significant impact on the quality of the finished movie. The debate around these decisions and all the aesthetic considerations are the tools to honing the art and craft of filmmaking.

There are no right and wrong answers, just better ways to reach masterful films - that is what can be so vexing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. As a Ron Eldard fan I enjoyed seeing these extras. As a movie lover I enjoyed the comments about how you saw them, what you liked etc. Natascha

Anonymous said...

Yeah, thanks for posting this from YouTube. I think the film could have benefitted from the "cross the line" scene between Lester and Behrani because you need an intense battle of their pyschie to build before the final, awful tragedy the eventually arrives.

I also would have liked to see the scene in the Mexican restaurant stay in the film simply because it added greater emotional depth to Cathy's loneliness and not made her seem so mercenary in her relationship with Lester.

A person could say, as Perelman does, that these scenes are repetitive, however, they build interior exposition so often lacking in Hollywood movies that want action, action, action driving the plot and story without, as you say, nuance.