Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cut!

A lot of the more independent-filmic tidbits you've been reading in OPC for the past week or so have come from Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures, which I just finished reading. Ostensibly a history of the indie movement from sex, lies and videotape to, roughly, Gangs of New York, Down and Dirty Pictures ends up primarily focused, for obvious reasons, on Miramax, and thence on its larger-than-life - as in 300 pounds-plus - co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. (At one point, Weinstein screams at Billy Bob Thornton, "I'm a big fat hairy Jew worth $180 million and I can do whatever I want!")

Miramax was of course the most successful distributor of so-called art films throughout the 1990s, and Harvey's approach to each of the movies he worked on seemed to be the same: Cut it. Cut four minutes, or 10 minutes, or 20 minutes, or more. It's not that Weinstein saw 10 minutes that he didn't like, or felt there was a particular 10 minutes that needed to be cut. He didn't care which 10 minutes the director cut, just so long as it got cut.

I've never seen any of these Miramax movies before they were cut, but I assume they weren't any worse for the wear, since they were largely successful. I've known magazine editors like that, too, people who thought any story would be better if it were shorter. They're usually right.

7 comments:

Joe said...

That post could have been shorter.

T. Nawrocki said...

So could that comment.

Gavin said...

My usual rule of thumb with articles is that you can lose about 10% in most cases and the story benefits from it. More than that, and it suffers.

That margin may be thinner now, given how meager word counts have become at most magazines.

Joe said...

.

Pike said...

This is something that, as a professional writer, I hear all the time: that articles should be shorter, "less long," and also more concise. I cannot agree. I, for one, pride myself that in anything I write -- be it a feature article for some fancy "magazine" or a post on a fine site such as OPC -- there is not a single word that should be edited or deleted or edited. Not one. Not any one single word, ever. This is something in which I take pride. Only a stupid dummy moron becomes a writer if he (or she!) cannot contain himself (or themselves) to writing only "les mots justes." If a person (or she!) chooses to write for a living, he (or they) should pay a whole lot of attention to expressing only the bare bones of the idea. I edit myself, good sir. And the idea that "all" articles (or her!) need editing is something I simply cannot bear to read.

T. Nawrocki said...

That comment could have been longer.

Pike said...

I ran out of time.

(Oh my God. You of all people didn't get the joke?)