This morning was about documentary. To inspire us in our task of editing eleven minutes of verité footage down to a sixty second vignette, we were shown a bit of ‘American Dream’ by Barbara Kopple. It is the tale of a meatpacking plant’s attempt to save money by laying off workers and hiring others at reduced rates. It’s workers against the long-term unemployed in a small Minnesota town. It was edited like a feature – with even shorter scenes and bigger elisions between scenes (they ended scenes as soon as possible, starting the following scenes as late as possible in the action). For the first 90 seconds I was trying to work out how things were shot. After that, I started to care about the people involved and their story.
We also saw some clips from ‘Pumping Iron’ – a film that illustrated the world of body-building in the seventies by manufacturing a rivalry between Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The battle was won long ago: my spell checker knows how to spell ‘Schwarzenegger’ but not ‘Ferrigno.’ The clips showed how each man was shot and edited in wildly different ways so as to increase the contrast between them.
We also watched the beginning of Woody Allen’s ‘Husbands and Wives’ – because it used the visual conventions and structure of documentary techniques. The first 10 minutes looked great. I’m looking foward to checking it out.