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.

Leaving some Bite marks - Day 2 of Editing Bite In-Production

Final Cut Pro Project Folder Organization for Bite

The search for the most appropriate hashtag continues. For now, #BiteMarks is in the lead. Edit: Or how about #PostBites? Editors should be nodding solemnly in agreement with that one.

Edit Progress:

  • The 3 scenes filmed yesterday were edited and shown to director Chad Archibald today. He gave me some minor changes that were then immediately made. Simple.
  • Appr. 4 minutes of the final film assembled

After the 30-minute brisk walk to set (I love the walk because any chance to get some exercise is a glorious break from sitting at a desk all day) I arrived to find yesterday's footage transcoded and waiting for me.

For those who care by the way, we are taking the Dragon/Epic 5K clips and converting them to Quicktime ProResLT 1920x1080 clips for the offline edit. Much easier for my comp to digest and to store right on my internal drives.

The production shot 1TB of footage yesterday, which converts to roughly 100GB of proxy files for me. With 16 days of principal photography ahead of us, I've made sure my drives are able to store up to 2TB of proxy footage. Obviously I'll have to check with DIT to see if keep to that daily number or if we start going over.

Those who know me know I CRAVE organization in my project folders as I work. Setting up a neat and tidy folder and naming system for your project at the outset will pay off in spades towards the end of the edit. That image up there is a snapshot of how I generally organize each feature project. It changes depending on the needs of the particular production I'm on, but it's a good base to lay down at the start.

Once any new scenes are finished and ready to show, I throw them onto the iPad and leave it with Chad to watch at his leisure. Or he (or anyone approved to review scenes) can stop by my editing station and request to see a particular scene or shot.

Aside from that, DIT and I discussed storage for the film's raw footage to make sure we are good for disk space throughout production. And I snooped around the set when I had a moment to see what it looked like off-camera. Let me just say for the record that the art department have done an incredible job at building a set that does NOT appear as a set in the scenes. You won't be able to tell which was an actual location and which wasn't.

I also began building a library of temp music and sound effects to use. This film calls for a heavy emphasis on sound design and even though I'm only building rough scenes to look at, I still want them as polished and complete as I can get them. Not all directors or producers can use their imagination so easily when looking at dailies. Picking the right temp music track to set the atmosphere of the scene or a creepy, gurgling creature sound effect can make the scene go the extra mile when first viewing it.

That's all. Sleep now. More tomorrow.

To get more quips from set and updates on how the edit is progressing, follow Merc on Twitter and follow the Merc Facebook page for more pics and stills.

Eat Edit Sleep mantra