Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A malt shook up

David Bishop wrote recently about how in writing he needs to have an ending laid out before he can start. This got me thinking a little about my own working order, and gives me the opportunity to say something that might not have been already mentioned on the "behind the scenes" types of segments Big Finish sometimes do.

It's fairly well known that films and television are often filmed out of order for reasons of budget, actor availability and other sensible matters. When recording Big Finish audio drama it is also generally slightly out of order to minimise actors having to enter and leave the booths all the time. For example, all of Anna Massey's narration lines for "The Phantom of the Opera" were recorded in one go on the first morning of recording, and after the edit they bookend each episode.

When starting on a post-production job it can be quite tempting to simply start at scene one and go through the play (or episode), but that can cause problems. The beginning and the ending are generally the most important parts. Sometimes if the writer is being clever the beginning is actually the end in narrative terms, but that's another matter. If you start at the beginning and are still getting the dynamics of the play and the script ,then you'll end up with a weaker beginning just in terms of confidence about the project. At best this means having to go back to the beginning at some point and doing the first few scenes again, at worst it might have to be released like that because you don't have time to go back and do them again.

So here's the big idea: start somewhere in the middle.

On films that might mean doing one of the middle reels first. On my audio projects I make a chart up with a box for each scene so I can scribble details about it (far easier than leafing through a script looking for the last scene set in an office so you can remember whether the door was on the left or the right) - I generally start in the second row of this chart for editing. I might then jump about doing the scenes which are mostly dialogue first and cross things off on my list when they are done; I do that because I've ended up editing the same scene twice because I didn't realise until I came to save that I'd already had a file with that name.

Oh, and the reason for the recent Elvis-inspired misheard lyrics have been the Youth show at the theatre which features songs by the late rockabilly performer.

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