There are often too many viewings, too many opinions which can make the directors confused trying to please everybody and thereby losing their own voice, said Menno Boerema, Dutch editor, at the first session of the DocStories Black Sea workshop in Tbilisi. The words fell before he showed the film ”Jungle Rudy” by Rob Smits that he did the final editing of after the film had suffered a crisis. According to Boerema because the editing had had ”too many cooks”
The wise words of Boerema make me think about the numerous workshops, seminars, markets and training schemes where rough cut screenings are introduced. The director of the Sunny Side of the Doc, Yves Jeanneau, said in an interview, arguing for why the market had included this element: This is the reality of the market – referring to the fact that tv commissioners most often today tell the filmmakers to come back with a rought cut…
Might be right, but do the rough cut screenings which include a small bit of the film screened in front of 50 or 25 people really serve the purpose of making the films better/ to improve the phase of the final cut coming up? No, of course not. What can work, to my opinion, is small intense sessions like the one here in Tbilisi, or like the one at DocsBarcelona where we have handpicked 5 professionals, who are used to watch rough cuts to watch versions which are almost finished, close to the final cut and comment on that WITHOUT trying to be editors as they are not.
It is a question of respect for the art of documentary, for the filmmakers – nothing wrong with showing material to others but if it is only for the sake of selling? And many people are not used to watch rough cuts, for sure, my long experience has told me.
Photo: Johan van der Keuken’s The Long Holiday, edited by Menno Boerema