Friday, August 24, 2007

Killing Your Darlings

I had a colleague who would say during an edit session that "you must kill your darlings!". I was reminded of her last week while slicing and dicing our short video to reduce it to its best length. What she meant is that producers and writers tend to get attached to certain thoughts or soundbites when in fact a piece would be improved by their removal. So to any of our interview subjects who felt a bump! as they landed on the cutting room floor, I apologize, but hopefully we'll see you in the series.

The short video is a wonderful opportunity to see the challenges the series will present in the edit room. This is a documentary so heavily reliant upon pictures - not video - as well as documents and some photographs. That means special effects (in terms of movement on the prints) are key to keeping things interesting. Creating those effects is time consuming, particularly when you are dealing with thousands of pictures!

Music and ambient sound are also key and it has been a real treat to dig into 19th century American music. What an education!
From the 20th century, I couldn't resist using the famous "Sleigh Ride" lyric*:
There's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy,
When they pass around the chocolate and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives!
*I apologize for putting a Christmas song in your head in August!

Viewers can also listen for music from 1935's Currier and Ives Suite from composer Bernard Hermann, who was inspired by the lithographs to conceive the Suite as a ballet at Radio City Music Hall. It was performed several times in concerts but slipped into limbo during World War II.

The crew shot last weekend at Northeast Auctions and it was like catching the action at a sporting event! Bidding is fast, furious, and sometimes so discreet that it's nearly invisible to the untrained eye. The Curriers proved popular, with bidding on a couple of large folios coming in at over ten thousand dollars. Owner and auctioneer Ron Borgeault was a great sport, taking time out from one of the busiest days of his year to sit for an interesting interview. One thing I'll share: although a huge fan of the prints, Ron says Currier & Ives lithos are not art. Them's fightin' words for some fans and at the very least, a good topic for debate.

We're shooting tomorrow in lovely Amesbury, Massachusetts, where we'll get video of Nat Currier's summer home and talk with a family member who will share little-seen photos, letters, and other documents.

I'll keep you posted.

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