Go ahead and watch it first before you read below. You may also want to click on the link instead of watching it in this window if it is too small or strangely cropped by our blog lines. I recommend it in HD, of course.
This is one day's work, from turning on the computer to writing this article. As you well know, we shot this about a year and a half ago in Bishop, and it has been sitting on an external hard drive ever since. We shot primarily on 2 cameras, but had a third that we used for some special events, and I don't think we have even gotten around to capturing the footage from the extra camera. I don't quite know why it has taken so long for me to touch the project; it might be that we didn't know how we ended up with 25 hours of footage yet still lacked a coherent story. Finances also got in the way, I'm sure.
So, today, I just started editing. I knew I wanted to edit Dale's interview (the clown), and Steve the Announcer provided a nice thematic link. This could be the beginning of the documentary, it could be the middle, who knows. Right now it is the beginning solely based on the fact that it is where I started -- which I kind of like. It is without music, which we plan to add later. I think we would run the credits and perhaps some necessary facts about Mule Days over the "Mule Days" sign at the end of the clip. I am working on a second sequence right now that picks up where we left off that introduces Tucker Slender, the cowboy we originally thought was our main character, in a rapid series of freeze frames.
At this point, I am very much enjoying the improvisatory connections between characters and stories. Part of the weight we felt a year and a half ago came from our efforts to map the entire thing out, to find a narrative between Zack, the child, and Tucker, the old man. Now, I think, I've learned a bit more and am approaching it from a different angle. If every person in the documentary was a sub-plot, with no obvious overarching plot, I'd be enormously happy. Just a series of encounters, some intertwined, some combating, some linked, some disconnected, all within the bizarre context of that weekend. This sounds much more appealing to me than finding a story to edit to. I would rather find the story every day I sit down to edit.
The most interesting problem thus far is balancing my personality as an editor with that of the story. A part of me wants to take a more objective, observational stance on the people, but I think that does an injustice to the hilarity and strangeness and uniqueness of the Mule Days atmosphere. I like the challenge of conveying that undercurrent simply through editing, while still maintaining the people without manipulating them. I try instead to condense, amplify, or highlight their lives in a way that rests behind their stories. In a way that props them up.
Expect more soon, who knows from which direction. And, although it might be difficult to form an opinion about a short, isolated clip, I would love any feedback.