educational

Putting the Pieces Together

Andrew Rosen
I’ve always liked jigsaw puzzles. Editing a film is much like working on a jigsaw puzzle, putting small video pieces together so that viewers can see the big picture.

Television has always been an interest of mine — well, probably an addiction. Sex has always been an interest of mine, too — some have called that an addiction. So it’s no wonder that I’ve devoted 14 years to adult entertainment.

In college I studied theatre mostly, which carried over from the many musicals and plays I did as a child. One of the college courses I took was for TV production. We were taught all the facets of making a video from concept to final edit. I first saw an editing console back in 1983 when my ex-boyfriend showed me his. We never edited anything, but it somehow interested me.

After I moved to West Hollywood, I became aware of free courses offered by the local cable channel and decided to take a refresher. In 1994, I met former gay adult performer Kevin Glover while working at the Celebration Theatre. He was running a small editing company called Aries Productions (later Aries Post). It turned out that the video editing equipment had hardly changed since ‘83, and I was soon employed as an editor.

By the end of the 1990s, Aries Post had closed down and the editing process had totally changed. Everyone was now using editing software to edit instead of copying from tape to tape. I was soon hired by All Worlds Video to be their editor and started using Final Cut Pro software to edit.

I am going to explain a little of my process.

The first step in editing is to capture all the video onto your computer that the production team has shot. Technically, this is a real time process. It actually takes almost double the time as the amount of footage given to you. First I name the computer files by running through the footage, then I capture them by playing them. (Organization is key to saving you time later.)

Now that the footage is in the computer you can start editing. Like the aforementioned jigsaw puzzle, you just start putting pieces together — or you can do what I do and separate it into smaller piles. It’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to look at the whole movie, so I cut it into small pieces — like separating sky from buildings in a puzzle.

If all the puzzle pieces are there, the puzzle can easily be put together. Oftentimes, in the hurry to finish shooting a movie, some pieces can get skipped over. This mainly happens in the form of missing face shots, but can be a variety of other things. While a movie looks seamless, it is simply a conglomeration of many pieces being shot at different times. So that facial shot of the bottom boy getting fucked might have been shot when no actual penetration was happening. He is — gasp! — faking it.

Sometimes, in the hurry to finish shooting or because the action has moved on to another position, a director will forget to go back and shoot the face shot. I take that piece of sky for a duplicate puzzle and get my hammer and bang it into place. It’s not perfect, but if I hammer just right maybe no one will catch it.

After fitting all the pieces together, I like to make a pass or two through the video by watching it from start to finish. A lot of times while editing, I will use all the video that was shot for each position and find at the end that there is too much footage, making a position go on too long. I like to go through and cut out the boring parts.

When a video is cut down to size, I usually present it to the director to look over and make notes on anything he wants changed in the movie. As an editor, any changes the director wants — even if it is something I disagree with — that’s what goes. I execute the changes and then start the process of sound clean up.

The shooting of a sex video has an organic nature to it, like a cross between a dialogue movie and a sporting event. It is often dictated by where the performer goes with it and ideas that the director comes up with on the spot. Often the director has to talk during the filming.

Next in the edit process is checking the color and brightness levels throughout the video to make sure it looks even and consistent all the way through.

Finally, when the video is as good as it can be, music is often added. I usually work with a composer that the producer or director finds and he is given a copy of the movie and composes music to fit (or not) the action.

I have worked with a large portion of the great directors in porn from the 90s to present.

The first one is Chi Chi LaRue. The bulk of my work as an editor in this business has been on her movies, even though I haven’t edited for her in years. No one can get a greater performance out of a performer than Chi Chi. When Chi Chi would hand me the tapes from his movie I knew no matter how many tapes there were it would be good.

Her editors know Chi Chi as a nightmare for sound clean up. Her boundless energy overflows into constant talking throughout the video, often taking more time to edit out than it takes to edit the video. The first movie I edited for her was “Log Jammer” for Catalina. She almost never sits in on the edit sessions. She trusts her work and the talent of the editors she works with. I do remember one time when Chi Chi did come to sit with me — I was freaking out about the opening to “The Missing Link.”

The second director constituting the next largest portion of my work is Derek Kent/Ross Cannon. During his work at Studio 2000, I edited most of his Minotaur line and quite a few of his Studio 2000 features. Derek/Ross is one of a group of directors — of which I belong — who are frustrated filmmakers and almost always do movies with plots.

Next on the list is the brilliant Wash West. No one in the industry can intertwine sex scenes into a plot with as much heart as he can. Whether it’s drama or comedy, his movies usually contain a social commentary. Wash is a go-getter and rarely takes no for an answer. He will work your last nerve, exploring every option in his quest for the perfect movie, which I ultimately appreciate.

Jerry Douglas does very few films, but each one is a gem. He is the most hands-on person I have worked with.

I have only edited one film for Blue Blake and it is one of my all time favorite porn movies. “Demolition Daddy” is a script about a killer who steals victims’ identities. Somehow Blue made it sexy.

Others I have worked with are Paul Barresi, Dan Cross, Chad Donovan, Doug Jeffries, John Rutherford, Phil St. John, Chris Steele, Thor Stephans, Blade Thompson and John Travis.

All of these directors are people I have learned from.

When I go to the set to direct my own films, it is their knowledge I take with me to get the job done. Who could ask for better teachers?

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