‘Reinventing Cuba’ received no different treatment. Gerry and I work very closely together. I am always looking forward to his scripts. He has a way with words as the natural story teller he is. He comes up with beautiful story breaks, parallel constructions, smart connections. And from day one, he has been very open to my comments. In fact, I am given a day or two to read the script and write down my notes. Then we FaceTime together and discuss the script page by page. Gerry makes adjustments for story clarity or to highlight a character’s action or any other detail, and then we both repeat the process before we send it out to Humberto Duran, our executive producer in DC, who in turn sends in his comments. Before I receive a final version, I know where the story is going, where the challenges are and have an idea of how much work there will be in general.
Once the script is locked cutting begins. When editing it is very important for me to have a good, comfortable space where I can create. At home, at the studio or in a hotel room, I arrange the desk to my liking and it usually involves having nothing on it, except the script and a pencil. Nothing distracts more than seeing cards, cables, books, letters laying around. I am maniac. I need help, I know.
And I also need plenty of breaks. I take a lot of mini breaks when completing a sequence and moving to another. To keep me on track, I use an app called Simple Countdown
. I set alarms for every hour per script page. This way I quickly have first versions of sequences before I begin the real work. Refining, trying new versions, testing music come immediately after. I do not make rough cuts. I don’t believe in them. I make edits as tight and as close to the final product as I can. For this, I use a two-timeline method. One timeline/project where the actual work happens and a second timeline/project where I copy said sequence when I am happy with it. In the first timeline/project I work on individual scenes. In the second I see how they dance together. I don’t keep versions of sequences around. I know we put so much effort into them, but I am merciless with my own work.
For example, I remember having spent around one hour or more fixing a shot of the Capitolio building in Havana. I needed to bring back an overexposed area in the sky using the multiple-point mask in FCP X and color grade it to match the sequence. I was happy with the result, but the shot didn’t work with the others so I deleted it without blinking. It doesn’t mean that I don’t end up with leftover footage at the end of a sequence.
I do, but it will last there for as long as I move to the next sequence. This method has allowed me to keep my events very clean, organized and minimalistic. No more looking for that timeline/project where “the dog ran in the opposite direction”. For BRoll versions, I use Auditions within FCPX.