What is my motivation in this scene? - Day 10 of Editing Bite


  • Scenes cut: 28
  • Movie duration: 29:57
  • Number of hours it takes to apply full creature prosthetic make-up to our actress: 8

Capping off week 2 on filming Bite here and the timeline is getting bigger and fuller each day.

I've been concentrating on mostly editing the really gruesome (read: freaking awesome!) scenes of the movie because that's what the director really wants to see. They're the most exciting and I like exciting people with what I do. Plus they are the scenes the director is most concerned with seeing to make sure they work.

These scenes (what I called the Ermahgerd scenes the other day) are inspiring for the director. They're inspiring for the crew when they get the opportunity to see them, or even just to know that they are coming together without actually watching them. If they see the director is happy with the edited scenes, then they know the production is working. Again, mirroring what I said the other day, this is about building the crew up as much as it is building the movie.


In order to start assembling one of these larger Ermahgerd scenes (in fact before production ever begins) there are some questions about the style and look of the film that we are trying to achieve. From that I start looking for some inspiration to use while editing.

One of the obvious choices to use as a reference is the ultimate creature-transformation horror film, David Cronenberg's The Fly. Before production started I rewatched it, paying close attention to specific scenes where tension is built as we see each stage of the metamorphosis occur. Ronald Sanders (who also edited A History of Violence, Coraline and Eastern Promises) did an incredible job editing this film and it's tagged in my library as one of my favourites of Cronenberg's films.

Watching it with the sound off helps to really focus on how the editor built the scene. Try it sometime with your favourite movie. You really can tell a lot just by the sequence of shots in a scene when you're not busy listening to it.

The other film that I chose is a film that is very, very close to my heart: Neil Marshall's The Descent. This is a phenomenal movie in my opinion. It has such a simple premise that if you saw it written down you would swear that it's been done 40 times before and would make for a pretty subpar story.

A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.

Sounds like nothing special, right? But that's what makes it so awesome. It IS a simple premise but it doesn't try to be more than that. It only tries to be amazing at delivering that story. Many films before have attempted a story similar to this but have failed for whatever reasons. This one knocks it out of the ballpark. It's creature horror boiled down to it's purest form. Jon Harris crafted some fine scenes (he also edited Snatch, 127 Hours and Kick-Ass) and when he aimed to build tension, he built it. When he wanted to instil anxiety in the viewer, he did it. When he wanted to show the progression of the lead character (as I write this I realize that this is also a transformation movie of sorts), you feel for her and root for her to make it out.

With one week remaining I'll be continuing to post updates to let you know how the edit is going. But also I am collecting a few materials to save and release for after we're wrapped.

Like the Merc Media Facebook page and check out some more behind-the-scenes glimpses into editing Bite.

Searching for the Ermahgerd Scene! - Day 6 of Editing Bite

Searching for the Ermahgerd Scene! - Day 6 of Editing Bite

The second week of filming is an exciting time for me as the editor. Why? For two reasons:

1) By now production has gotten into it's stride and is working at full capacity(ish). My organization system has made its changes and now fits the production's needs, including the unexpected ones that pop up at the start.

2) This is usually when we see the appearance of the Ermahgerd Scene. That is a scene that the cast/crew are just DYING to see. A scene with a big special effect, a great dramatic performance between hero and villain, or a killer fight sequence.

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This guy is always an editor's BFF on set - Day 3 of Editing Bite

All of that may look like gobbledy-guk to you but to an editor it is a mystical map leading the way to buried treasure (aka an awesomely edited film). In film terminology it is called a continuity log sheet.

But speaking about pirate analogies...did you know that there exists a music genre called Pirate Metal?! Because nobody told me before today. Somebody started cranking this at the start of the day and my life has been better ever since.

Back to continuity log sheets for a second...

There are many roles on a film set that most people are familiar with, unfortunately the script supervisor is not one of them. And on indie sets it is usually a job that goes unfilled because it's just not as important as a DoP or Boom Operator. Those who think that are wrong. So very, very wrong. The script supervisor is tasked with logging important details for each take of each scene. This serves two main purposes:

  • Helps maintain continuity in the final film (Is James Bond wearing the same suit when he arrives at the casino that we saw him wear earlier? Does Rick Grimes have the same amount of blood on his shirt in this scene from his zombie fight in the previous scene?)
  • Tells the editor the correct takes to use

If the director yells "Cut! Beautiful performance, Meryl! That was perfect!" the script supervisor labels that a "circle take" to indicate that the director loved it. If the shot was ruined or the director just didn't like it for any reason, then it gets labelled as "NG" or "No Good".

A lot of other information is included as well, like camera information and shot details, which help the editor know which footage is the best to work from and which to set aside.

This is why the script supervisor on this set gets a hug from me. Every. Day.

It takes a bit more time to go over these log sheets first before editing, but in the long-run it speeds up my work tremendously. Each of the clips in the FCP7 project file gets this meta information attached to it so I can quickly find the best takes as I work.


  • Scenes cut: 7
  • Film duration: 10:35
  • Each of the scenes were uploaded privately to producers in Toronto so they can monitor progress