Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter took home best editing Oscars for The Social Network last night, following their A.C.E. Eddie and BAFTA wins a few weeks ago. Congratulations on your work and well-deserved awards, boys! It shoulda gotten best picture too but oh well! To celebrate the pair and their movie, here’s an updated version of my October post on the movie.
No ordinary flick
In keeping with the latest technological trends, the film (guess we should drop that term and call it a digi?) was shot digitally on a RED camera, actually two to three cameras for each scene.
The Social Network is unique because it is driven by dialogue. Unbelievable but true, especially in a male-centered film. The action scenes, such as the crew race, are puffery and lead to the weighty dialogue scenes a reverse of the typical male-oriented films where the dialogue is poor and serves as set-up for the heavy duty action sequence. The scenes are taut, the characters interesting (men only, except for a couple of minor woman characters), and the dialogue and yes, social interactions, step right along.
Angus Wall, left, and Kirk
Baxter after their win for
The Social Network.
Associated Press photo
I always remember what Carol Littleton, A.C.E., (The Other Boleyn Girl, Tuesdays with Morrie, ET and many more), once said: “One-to-one dialogue scenes are difficult because it’s literally about the very thin connection between two people and that connection can’t be violated. You have to be aware of it all the time. They may be connecting or not connecting emotionally, but you have to be aware of what’s happening between them the whole time.”
The eyes have it
I believe the strongest actors show their power in their eyes. Notice the intensity in Jesse Eisenberg’s as he does an extraordinary job of taking on main character, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Angus Wall, half of the pair of editors on The Social Network along with Kirk Baxter, says in an interview by Oliver Peters (who pens Digital Post, a helpful, technical editing blog), “From the start, Kirk and I cut the scenes very tightly, using faster performances and generally keeping the pace of the film high. When the first assembly was completed, we were at a length of 1 hour 55 minutes – actually a minute shorter than the final version. Unlike most films, we were able to relax the pace and put some air back into the performances during the fine cut.”
However, in reading Peters’ interview, I found out there was more to creating the movie than being deft at dialogue and story.
Yes. According to Baxter, who edited The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, “there are about 1000 effects in The Social Network.” Two major characters, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are identical twins played by two different actors. Baxter reports that the movie “has a lot of digital matte paintings, but there is also face replacement much like in Button…there are two characters who are twins, but in fact the actors aren’t, so a similar process was used to turn one of the actors into the twin of the other. Although the story isn’t driven by the same sort of visual effect, like the aging technique that was a dramatic device in Benjamin Button, it still has a lot of effects work.”
Editor as magician
Did you notice the room switch? Baxter reveals that The Social Network, “was very well scripted and directed, so not a lot of storytelling issues had to be resolved in the edit. In fact, there were a number of scenes that were great fun to put together. For example, there’s an early scene about some of the legal depositions. It takes place in two different boardrooms at different times and locations, but the scene is intercut as if it is one continuous conversation. David [Fincher, the director] gave us lots of coverage, so it was a real joy to solve the puzzle, matching eyelines and so on.”
Wall gives his and Baxter’s point of view: “This is a movie about the birth of a major online power, but what happens on the computer is a very minor part. For us, it was more important to concentrate on the drama and emotions of the characters, and that’s what makes this a timeless story. It’s utterly contemporary…but a little bit Shakespearean, too. It’s about people participating in something that’s bigger than themselves, something that will change all of their lives in one way or another.”
Way to go, Angus and Kirk! Enjoy your award and night of partying. We look forward to seeing what you do next.