The editing of a film usually takes place in secret. For the upcoming feature film “Effigie – The Poison and the City” by Udo Flohr, which is currently being edited by editor Sven Pape in the USA, the opposite is true: Here, director and editor open their treasure chest! You can watch them online and in real time during the editing in Hollywood. In an interview with Filmpuls, they tell how it works .
For the successful cutter Sven Pape, the disclosure of his wealth of experience from the cutting room is as much a secret of success as a unique selling point. He shares his secrets with a growing number of fans in an innovative way. On YouTube alone, over 200,000 people follow the Burbank-based film editor! His latest project “Effigie – The Poison and the City” is the first feature film by Udo Flohr. The feature film tells the true story of a serial killer who murders 15 people in Germany in the early 19th century.
Interview with Sven Pape and Udo Flohr
Filmpuls:Udo, for the editing of your first feature film “Effigie – The Poison and the City” you have chosen an unusual way of post-production together with the well-known editor Sven Pape. How did this come about?
Udo Flohr:Sven has published workshop episodes on his projects before – so I didn’t find the way to do it so unusual. I had been fascinated by it for quite some time, got an impression of how it ticks … – and at some point I thought: It would be cool if he edited my film! I had actually assumed that this would also be partly public. In the meantime I could imagine working with a composer in a similar way, for example.
Filmpuls:Sven, was it difficult to get you excited about this kind of cooperation?
Sven Pape:On the contrary. I was actually looking for a follow-up project. In 2016 I had edited the feature film “Flesh and Blood” by director Mark Webber and published the process for the first time on YouTube. Today, all 37 videos can still be seen on my channel – from the creation of the project in Final Cut Pro to the premiere of the film. The next project (the documentary “Alt-Right: Age of Rage”) I could only edit under strict confidentiality due to the explosive subject matter. Then I received a new offer, where I would have had to work in camera again – an important reason not to accept it.
The insights into the editing of a movie create a deep dialogue.
Filmpuls:What do you expect from the public “shoulder glance” and from Patreon in the editing for “Effigie – The Poison and the City”?
Sven Pape:Oh there’s a lot of things! First of all, it is very nice to find viewers who are interested in insights into the montage process. A deep dialogue develops and I have meanwhile made many contacts in the industry through my internet presence. Udo and I would never have got to know each other if I hadn’t already done so – and who knows where the next project will come from.
Udo Flohr:As a director you are happy about any interest in your “baby”. It’s also attractive to get a certain amount of feedback from the potential audience on “Effigie – The Poison and the City” from comments by Sven’s patrons at this early stage. By the way, such intimate insights into the creative process are rare – I learned a lot on YouTube and am happy if it benefits others.
«Effigie»: Trailer | © 2019 GeekFrog Media
Filmpuls:Patreon is still little known in this country. How does it work and are you successful with it?
Sven Pape:Patreon is a platform that brings artists and audiences together, also in financial terms. Already in Mozart’s time, artists had patrons who enabled them to concentrate on their work. Today, thanks to the Internet and crowdfunding, similar opportunities arise. Amanda Palmer, for example, is a visual artist who paints, writes poetry, makes films and music and is financed 100 percent by her fans. Every month Patreon sends her more than $70,000 from her 14,000 mini patrons. In my case, this is even more prosaic: so far I have 260 Patrons who enjoy a whole host of thank yous: From software plugins to worksheets, sneak peeks, bonus videos, raw material to create your own versions of a scene, to direct access to me and other professionals for questions and discussion.
Filmpuls:In the editing room the director literally “drops his trousers”: Here it becomes painfully clear whether the production works and bears the acting performance. How do you deal with this?
Udo Flohr:Of course the editor is a kind of confessor from whom I cannot hide my sins – after all, this is a prerequisite for his work. But I am quite relaxed about it: Creative work needs risks! For example, I expect my actors and actresses to expose themselves. And of course I had a first-class cast and crew behind me on this project – so hopefully things will go smoothly. Besides, we almost always shot with two and often with three cameras. This not only helps the actors in their performance, but also reduces connection errors.
Sven Pape:There is a special relationship of trust between director and editor. An important part of my job is to protect the director, the actors and the script. But you also have to realistically assess possible weaknesses in the script or the production in order to be able to address them at all. The audience is often not aware of it, but in editing you can manipulate a lot. And in the initial phase I am often the driving force and tell the story the way I like it. Sometimes I anticipate some tough decisions. The second phase is to make sure that the director is the ultimate voice of the film and that I deliver the end product that he can reconcile with his ambitions.
Of course the editor is my confessor: creative work needs risks.
Filmpuls:Do you think you can make a movie “on the fly”? Should maximum freedom set the pace in the editing room or simply recreate the script?
Udo Flohr:It’s actually important to first recreate the script – mainly to realize that it doesn’t work that way. As a director, I have a film in my head that I would like to see realised first – so that my head is clear and I can take a step back. In the case of “Effigie – The Poison and the City”, this rough cut was done by our assistant editor Andreas Farr, who already started working on the set.
Sven Pape:That was very good so, because Udo and I could immediately think about how to rebuild a few things. Now we are in the phase where we are experimenting and discovering the story anew.
Udo Flohr:In general, I am convinced that Sven can only do his job well if I first give him rather general “guidelines”. We have only discussed what is important to me psychologically and structurally.
Filmpuls:The actor John Malkovich says that art needs the craft more than the craft needs art. How does that apply to editing?
Sven Pape:Often art is only created by sitting down and simply doing something. In the meantime I know that the best ideas come to me when I cut together attitudes almost haphazardly. This works very intuitively, but at the beginning it was sometimes bumpy and accompanied by a lot of brooding. The craft was not yet properly developed, the experience was missing and above all the self-confidence that on average just about anything is possible. So, I agree, art needs the craft, but it’s the art that counts.
Udo Flohr:You have to master the craft before art is possible – but craft is not the only ingredient.
Filmpuls:Udo and Sven, we thank you for your time and for this interesting interview. We will report again soon about the progress of “Effigie – The Poison and the City” (link to the review of the finished film: see below).
In addition to the interview with director Udo Flohr and editor Sven Pape: photos of the shooting| © Photos: GeekFrog Media
“Effigie – The Poison and the City” was shot in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen in autumn 2018 and is scheduled to be released in cinemas in 2019. Cinematography: Thomas Kist, N.S.C. Screenplay: Peer Meter (after his own play), Udo Flohr, Antonia Roeller. Production design Christina v. Ahlefeldt-Laurvig and Knut Splett-Henning. Assistant director Max Gleschinski won the Förderpreis Neues Deutsches Kino with his own debut film Kahlschlag at the Hofer Filmtage at the end of October.
Shooting for “Effigie – The Poison and the City”| © Photos: GeekFrog Media