Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Cut the cuts.

In the course of my career I have worked with many great editors. I won't name them for fear of insulting someone by omission.

Suffice to say, I've had the good fortune to be in the bay with Oscar, Emmy and Clio award winning cutters. It is only now that I come to appreciate their incredible craftsmanship and artfulness.

Why the sudden recognition?

As my brother and I were explaining to my wife over Thanksgiving, it is unwise to watch sporting events on TV via the DVR. Can't be done, won't be done. With the advent of social media and multiscreen viewing, it's impossible to avoid hearing a final score.

And while I can sit through the Godfather, parts I & II, hundreds of times knowing in the end Fredo is going for a swim in a very cold lake, I can't sit through a football or basketball game knowing the victor or the Fredo in advance.

As such, I am forced to endure many a TV commercial. Aired during a live broadcast. More accurately, many a poorly edited TV commercial. I can't tell you how many times I am forced to hit the rewind button just to see what I have just seen. And even then, after repeated viewings, I find myself muttering...

"What the hell was that all about?"

And while this often stems from poor copywriting and art direction, more often than not it stems from piss poor editing. And this incessant need to cram every shot into a spot.

CLIENT: "We shot all this film, we might as well use it."

Perhaps I'm not alone in this, but I often find myself counting the cuts in a single 30 second spot.

Last week, while watching the New England Patriots get drubbed (that never gets old) I came across a 30 second gem with 53 cuts.


In my mind that's 50 too many.

If you were to look at the dozen or so TV commercials I've put on my portfolio page, a dozen selected out of hundreds, you'd see I'm a big fan of simplicity. Many of my spots have one or two cuts, max.

The source of this minimalism? It's two fold.

First, it comes from listening to and learning from editors. The great ones live by KISS maxim, Keep it Simple Stupid.

The second and more compelling reason, is that for every TV commercial I've ever made there's also a corresponding focus group I've sat in and whined about. And in the ad world, or with any communication piece, there's nothing more deadly than a group of tuna fish sandwich eating experts hired for a hundred bucks a night sitting in a room and saying...

"I don't get it." 

Lately, neither do I.

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