The idea is simple. There can come a point on any production when the director, the producer or editor gets to rough cut stage and hits a wall, irrespective of their talent or how brilliant their material is.
Which is why the venerated duo of Iikka Vehkalahti and the late Menno Boerema originally set up Rough Cut Service, to offer a lifeline to creatives who become blind to the potential of their films just at the point when they should be prepping for final delivery.
The company’s Danish co-ordinator/producer, Cecilie Bolvinkel, sums it up.“You find yourself stuck at the editing table. You have this rough cut, but you can feel that it is not exactly where you want to be and it is not exactly the film you have in mind, but you know that there is something in the material that could just go one step higher.”
Films at CPH:DOX that have gone through the process of parachuting in expert help are particularly noteworthy, and include Ai Weiwei’s Vivos, Space Dogs by Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter and The Beloved Daughter by Tiina Madisson (Nordic:Dox Award). The list is completed by Robolove by Maria Arlamovsky, My Rembrandt by Oeke Hoogendijk and Sladkowski’s Main Competition film Bitter Love.
On the company’s website,Space Dogsco-director Kremser comments how the process“helped us to finally come to a version that we love ourselves, that works in terms of dramaturgy, and that is radical, without compromises.”
“What I see is that people are drained and that people are stuck, then with the consultation they receive suggestions that can be very direct,” adds Bolvinkel.”
The experts may, for example, go in and suggest new ways of constructing a part of the film by moving the scenes around, so it’s not just fluff. It is very concrete… It’s also looking at the whole dramaturgy and asking questions and then giving very specific suggestions on what can be done.”
Bolvinkel also points out that opinions by two separate editing experts are given within a consultation, which can be embraced, ignored or blended into the final cut as per the director/producer/editor’s needs tastes or requirements.
Experts on hand includes the likes of Per K. Kirkegaard (The Cave), Maya Daisy Hawke (director, Little Ethiopia), Ollie Huddleston (Shooting the Mafia), Audrey Maurion (This is My Land) and Neils Pagh Andersen (The Act of Killing).
Bolvinkel further points out that the company is not just about edit consultancy but also about promoting and supporting the craft, and directs professionals to an extensive list of online resources that include (on video) insights from Werner Herzog as well as Laura Poitras/Joe Bini on the art of editing, recorded at Sundance 2015.