Editing is perhaps the sneakiest job in movie making. Directors want to be known for having distinct styles while actors try to deliver their finest performances every time they hear, “Action!” They want lazy film critics the world over to declare each new effort an “UNFORGETTABLE POWERHOUSE TOUR DE FORCE PERFORMANCE TWO THUMBS UP FIVE STARS.” Basically, these key players in the business want to be noticed. The mark of good editing? Going unnoticed. So says Jeff Freeman, who most recently edited Ted, the stoner fairy tale flick about a man-child played by Mark Wahlberg, his teddy bear man-child voiced by director/writer/star Seth MacFarlane and poor Mila Kunis caught in the middle. The whole thing was set in Boston as I’m sure you well recall.
“I’ve got to agree with my mentor, Sam O’Steen,” said Freeman. For purposes of credentials there, O’Steen resume touts classics such as The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. “His and my sort of version of indicated success in our area is if you don’t notice us.”
Of course, if you’ve ever seen a Guy Ritchie movie, you know editing can be part of the ride itself, so it’s not so cut and dry as to simply be the vehicle that presents the film.
“You’re always the audience when you’re cutting a film. I’m always thinking what would I like to see next, what would make me enjoy this movie a little bit more?”
With the advancements in technology, the job responsibilities have evolved as well, he said.
“We’re not just cutting film anymore. We’re doing mixes, importing music, we’re doing so much.” His weapon of choice, for lack of a better word, is Avid, because of how ahead of the curve he says it was at the time it arrived and how it continues to keep pace with the future. We’ve written about Avid in the past due to their proximity to Boston and ubiquitous use in major motion pictures. “Finally they came up with the editing system that could work for editors who had cut on film for so many years. For us, the Avid was film friendly. It thought in frames. Nowadays, you pretty much use seconds and minutes as opposed to film frames.”
But that’s all technical stuff. Much more fun is finding out just how they put a little pot smoking teddy bear on screen next to Mark Wahlberg.
“We shot with a stuffie, a stick and a pair of eyeballs. Seth was very smart, they shot the scenes with Seth off camera, fully miked as if he was an actor in the scene, he still did the voice of Ted.”
So when you watch the movie, just know that what you’re really seeing is even more ridiculous than if Wahlberg were to actually have a talking stuffed teddy bear. He’s actually talking to a stick with eye balls whose own voice is coming from another direction. Aren’t movies glamorous?
And given the chance, you’re not going to not ask an industry type’s opinion on the state of film today. While mostly positive, citing movies like Being John Malkovich as a great, unique film, he echoed a sentiment a great many of us likely agree upon.
“I do miss intelligent dialogue. I do miss that.”