The vigilante was supposed to walk toward her sleeping victim and stop near him. She would pick up a photograph on the table and gaze at its subjects—him, his wife, and children. She would slowly shake her head and replace the photo. The point, of course, was to show how even rapists can have families and appear to have “normal lives”.
But in reviewing the takes, there were big problems. The vigilante moved exceedingly slowly, more than doubling the time needed for good pacing. And then there was the issue that no close up of the photograph was taken. Without that, the audience would have no clue as to the purpose of her looking at the photo. The message that the rapist had a seemingly ordinary family life could not be conveyed without the image close-up.
I was sad about the lack of film coverage of the photograph, but without it, there was no point in having the vigilante pause for it. So, for the sake of pace and want of message, I cut the entire “photo gazing” part of the scene. I felt miffed that no one had thought to film an up-close of the photograph after all the trouble to manufacture the prop for the scene and to film her picking it up. And I was miffed that the “regular guy” aspect of the rapist wouldn’t be made.
Later, I was going through takes in preparation for editing another related scene: the rapist greeting his intended victim at his door. I almost shouted aloud, “Oh my gosh, there it is, the close up of the photo of the rapist and his family!”
The cinematographer had filmed the photograph in the foreground, with the rapist greeting his intended victim in the background. What an artful way of conveying my “regular family guy” notion! My original objective for having the photograph had been achieved in an entirely different way, and one which was more subtle than the original plan. Rather than hitting the audience squarely with the message, it is delivered obliquely. This was a lovely instance of having another artist on the film come up with a creative idea to do something that I liked much better than my own preconceived idea.