I want to share with you some of my considerations in editing. First let me tell you why I axed a couple of scenes even though there was very high production value to the location.
It is hard to exaggerate how hard I worked to obtain permission to film in the Mesquite Police Department gym, which is a fabulous place. It is ultra-modern and has a sort of blue aura to the lighting. The first scene we would film there was designed to be when the lead detective and the police psychologist have their first interaction—let’s call it encounter 1. Encounter 2 was to be when they were more advanced in their relationship, getting more personal.
Encounter 1 had been rewritten and, although I agreed to it, I was dubious. Originally, it was to be a scene in which the detective admired the psychologist as she worked on karate, but it had become one in which he was irritable toward her, even disdainful. I was bothered by this because it seemed out-of-character for him to be rude and I couldn’t see the point of having antipathy injected when it was to be reversed only a few scenes later. So, to be honest, I was unhappy with the content, but was ready to let it happen and see if it worked.
During the rehearsal, the lead actor was exercising and doing pull-ups. I asked to have him stopped to save his energy, but was told, “Don't’ worry, he won’t get tired.” I knew better, but didn’t want to make an issue of disagreeing in front of personnel.
Then began a series of takes in which the actor bench pressed. With each take, his effort was more and more strained. Later, when I watched the best takes, it looked ridiculous, like he was trying to work on weights that were way beyond his physical capacity. So I axed the scene on two counts: its incongruity with the character of the person and of the film, and the silly looking iron pumping.
Encounter 2 was when the psychologist and detective are working out together, talking face to face. I had left the set during its filming to go do managerial work when it was shot, so didn’t know until later that it had a very serious flaw: the lead actor had injured his wrist in the exercise filming encounter 1. Now it was wrapped in white tape around the wrist and hand. It was glaring, distracting, and begged the question of what was wrong with him.
The bandage was not only white, it was bulky. To remove it with special effects would be too much of a challenge and would cost more than our entire effects budget.
I considered having the entire scene be a conversation with his voice in the background, but only showing her. But that raised a different problem. She was working on a machine in which her arms were bent beside her head, pressing forward against weights. But there was no weight on the machine. So it looked totally effortless (and was), like she was playing, not exercising. Again, it looked silly.
There are important lessons I should have already known. Don’t allow actors to exercise on-set and use minimal physical effort prior to actual filming so as to guarantee fresh energy. Don’t allow bandages or other distracting elements to costumes. Also, if there is supposed to be physical resistance, make sure it looks real. And the best was to do that is to have it be real.