Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with an Orphan Black crew member. This week it’s Jay Prychidny, Editor and Consulting Post Producer.
1. @vausemanprepon via Twitter: what was it like to see the reunion between Cosima and Delphine actually played out on screen?
@frenchyfaith via Twitter: Did you feel the pressure of the Cophine reunion scene having to live up to expectations?
Jay Prychidny: Since these two questions are pretty similar, I’ll answer them together).
The Cosima/Delphine reunion was so beautifully performed and shot, it was really just a matter of doing the best with the amazing stuff I was given. There were a few things I brought to it. For example, I really wanted to do the abrupt changes between Cosima’s slow-motion perspective and the frantic activity within the yurt. I also wanted to treat the editing more from Cosima’s perspective. So I would hold on long shots of her face trying to absorb what’s happening and have much quicker cut shots of Delphine, or shots of Delphine from more obscured angles. I really wanted that first eye contact with them in the yurt to connect strongly. That was just an emotional thing that felt right to me. But, I knew those scenes were pretty special when I was putting them together. The whole structure of the finale hinged on those scenes really working well, but I never had any worries there.Those two just have a certain magic that comes across on screen.
2. @CloneClubAUS via Twitter: Whilst it is ‘only’ an additional two minutes longer than previous finales/episodes, did this have any impacts say, schedule-wise or perhaps even cost-wise? Was shooting extended to accommodate for the extra episode minutes or was this something that was achieved entirely in post?
JP: The extended time in the episode was not a factor in the cost or scheduling of the episode. Though, the finales are always given a little bit of extra time in general to make them extra special. This episode was shot over 11 days, as opposed to the usual 9 allotted for a regular episode. And we shot a few of the scenes from 410 during an earlier episode, just so director John Fawcett could pack as much other stuff into the official 11 shooting days. The scene with Donnie and Helena in the wigwam was shot by David Frazee during Episode 409 when he was shooting his wigwam scenes. And the Alison/Donnie wigwam scene, the scene of Felix answering Krystal’s phone call, and Felix discovering Ira tied up in Rachel’s bed were also shot prior to the regular production of 410. Aaron Morton, our cinematographer, is actually the one who directed those scenes!
Orphan Black episodes have so much story packed into every script that most episodes tend to run long without us having to actually plan for it. The first assembly of this episode was over nine minutes heavy, and my first assemblies are usually pretty fast-paced and don’t have a lot of dead air in them to take out. So we started having conversations early on about making this an extended episode. We were worried about chopping a full nine minutes out of the show and possibly making it too fast-paced and confusing to follow. The networks agreed to give us two minutes of extra airtime, and then we also decided to make the minute-long Alison/Donnie wigwam scene an extended scene that will play online and on DVD/Blu-Ray but not on the regular broadcasts of the episode. So, in total, this episode is three minutes longer than your average episode. But the decision to make it an extended episode happened well after it was shot.
What is the general timeline/involvement when it comes to post production; from raw footage to final product, and does the editing process undergo consultations and re-editing, like the script process (say, order of scenes, score, voice overs, audio, colour palettes, etc.)?
JP: For the first editor’s cut, you have the length of time it took them to shoot the episode, plus a few extra days. So, on Orphan Black, where shooting generally takes nine days for an episode, an editor has around 11-12 days to deliver their first cut. This first cut includes all temp music, sound effects, and temp VFX. The editor’s cut is the first time anyone will see the episode, so it has to be as polished as possible. After that, the director of the episode has two or three days to make any changes they want, then the show producers step in with their notes. When everyone at the production company is happy, then it goes to the networks for two or three passes so they can get all their notes incorporated. It depends on the episode, but the notes process ideally takes around five weeks per episode (though, the editor is working on other episodes as well during those five weeks). But, sometimes the notes process can stretch much longer than that. Then after the edit, there needs to be a sound mix, music composition, color correction, and visual effects. The timeline varies depending on the episode. But, for episode 410, they finished filming on March 8, and the episode wasn’t complete until very close to its airdate three months later.
How does one get into post production and what are employers generally looking for when it comes to new blood?
JP: There are generally two ways to get into editing in the scripted world: either by starting as an editing assistant on scripted shows and working your way up, or starting as an editor on low-budget shows (or in another genre entirely) and working your way up. Editing assistants are sometimes entry level jobs (depends on the show), and employers are often really just looking for a great attitude, ability to learn, and a great work ethic. I’d say many employers tend to value that over specific technical know-how. For editors, I think employers are looking for really great creative collaborators. I think I moved up quickly in my field because producers valued my insights on the material and my ability to reshape the same footage in many different ways. I think producers appreciate an editor who is able to put a very strong stamp on the show and come in with strong ideas about how to approach it, rather than an editor who waits to be told exactly what to do.