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The Post Production Forum prepares Post in Poland - Guide to the Polish Post-production
by Marta Bałaga
The special publication serves as a culmination of this year's edition of the Polish event, which included presentations from experts such as Dan Lebental
Prepared by the organisers of the Post Production Forum, the Post in Poland - Guide to the Polish Post-production catalogue is now available online for free, Cineuropa has learned. Containing detailed descriptions of 21 Polish post-production companies, information on financial incentives as well as five interviews with representatives of the industry, its goal is to promote what, as argued by Dominika Kłoczewiak from the Viewer Foundation, the country already has to offer.
“Polish post-production houses offer world-class services, but knowledge on this subject is scattered and hence our idea to publish a catalog that would summarise it,” she said. “We did not manage to present all post-production companies right away, but we hope to be able to continue this project and update it with more representatives of our market.”
The event, which wrapped on 6 December, featured presentations from international experts, including editor Dan Lebental, who discussed The Art of Storytelling in a Big Budget Hollywood Cinema. “These movies are a living and breathing thing – the script you have coming in isn't the same as what you come out with,” he said, referring to his experience on Ant-Man. “If, as an editor, you have some sort of trick that you used on wedding videos and it works, do it. Who cares, as long as it tells the story? That's the business we are in: telling stories.”
Lebental discussed his methods while shaping specific sequences, for example Rene Russo's tragic passing in Thor: The Dark World. “There were a bunch of scenes that felt like a real drag, so I played them as one scene. I likened this to making it feel like an opera,” he observed. “There was a lot of dialogue, but it felt to me it would work better with images. Sometimes you can communicate better by doing less and emotional editing is the highest form. It's much more important than continuity, or certain aspects of the stories. If you can hit the right emotion, you win.”
While his work on Marvel titles takes about a year (“unless something happens, like when Robert Downey Jr. broke his ankle”), interestingly enough special effects are not what matters the most. “When I was doing the first Iron Man, we learned that a lot of animation flying around is not human emotion. With the VFX people, there are hundreds working on these shots. Sometimes I feel bad, because I go: 'Oh, I don't need that.' And that's someone's Sistine Chapel! In Iron Man I cut maybe the best effect shot in the movie. Director Jon Favreau looked at me and went: 'You son of a bitch.' But he knew it was right,” he said. “Often, an editor is like a used car salesman: you have to sell your cut.”
The same goes for new creative solutions, such as the introduction of the Wasp in Ant Man and the Wasp. “When you have a character's introduction, it's a big moment. You want it to be special, whether it's De Niro in Taxi Driver or one of these people in a cape. If the director hasn't planned anything, you will have to think of something,” he mentioned, also sharing some advice with the participants. “The hardest thing is that when you first start out, you don't get to work on good things. So you need to have the right attitude and the attitude is: whatever I get, it's my opportunity so I am going to make the most of it. If you want to make it as an editor, you have to edit, no matter if you get paid or not.”
Asked about difficult projects that taught him valuable lessons, his answer was short: “There is a word for them: documentaries. They are the best for expanding your skills, but generally they are harder and they pay less,” he explained. “I always say that in Hollywood, there is a 10 year period to get yourself established. If you are lucky you will do it sooner, but you will pay the cost – I guarantee that. But once you are in it, it's a beautiful thing – even when I hate it, I love it. We play our editing machines like musical instruments: in the end, the tool is less important than the person who is playing it. The greatest editing tool is the brain. That's where it starts and that when it ends.”
The Post Production Forum took place from 4 to 6 December 2020. You can download the catalogue, co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the city of Warsaw, here.
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