Trick is a short film by Shooting Incident Productions (UK and Germany), based on an original screenplay by Des Nnochiri.

Trick is directed by Jamie McEvoy and Jay Spencer – a man who also has the distinction of being head of Shooting Incident Productions.

Director, and Shooting Incident Productions chief, Jay Spencer

Here’s a perspective on the making of the movie, in Jay’s own words:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I have worked in TV film, and theatre almost my entire life – except for a small time when I studied Law at university. The legal
career didn’t sit too easy with me – all early mornings and late nights – so I left to set up my studio and agency. I have 2 cats – and spend
far too much on gadgets and film equipment. People often think I’m miserable. Oh well, what can you do….

Q: How did you become a director, and what kind of work do you do?

A: I became a director when I realised that I could do it! As a former actor, I learned what was required and I have a friend who is
an amazing editor. I used to go to work with him and spend hours watching how he picked shots, and listened to his tips. I also learn a
lot from my young studio buddy – Jamie – only 20 – but one hell of a talent.

Q: Can you enlighten us a little on film editing, and the post-production process? What’s involved?

A: Jamie and I usually meet up for a script day, we read it through and discuss how we see the film panning out; we discuss shots and how
we see it working. It’s strange, but we often have very similar views – and often we take turns at directing scenes or even swap direction
between takes! It might confuse some people, but it’s how we like to work.

It works for us, and I guess that’s what matters. Jamie often edits on his own these days – but occasionally we edit
together and I suggest some cuts – not that he needs it. I just like to have input at this stage too.

Q: Was there much of this to do, on Trick?

A: Trick was well written and so the visuals came easy. We had to take out a lot of “American” ideas and themes – to make it work in
our part of the world. With a large budget we wouldn’t have changed much at all!  I have got another script written by Des – “Best Friends
Forever” – and I wanted to do that one first – but Trick was too tempting, too accessible – and Jade was wanting to shoot – so we did.

Director Jay Spencer, working on the set of Trick

Q: What about the future? Any upcoming projects we should know about?

A: We have always got projects in mind – and if we can’t find any scripts – Jamie or me will usually write one. I’m told we are going to
be shooting on “Phase Three” again soon, just waiting for the actors to clear off other productions. The script was written by Jamie and
is being produced in house. I guess we are control freaks.

Thanks for sending us the scripts for Trick and Best Friends Forever – we like the way Des Nnochiri writes, and his work seems to fit with
where we are at right now.

Onwards and upwards – keep going people, your entire career starts with one small step – keep walking.

Q: Thanks for your time, Jay.

Pretty straightforward, yes? Jay – modest man that he is – makes it sound simple. And, by definition, it could be.

At its simplest, film editing is the process of selecting and combining shots into sequences, and assembling these into a coherent motion picture.

Yet, the job of an editor is not only to put pieces of film together, or edit dialogue. He or she must work with several layers: images, storyline, dialogue, music, pacing, and the actors’ performances, to craft a movie that hangs together well, and delivers the punch that it should.

You see, film editing is only one part of the wider post-production process.

Post-production is a blanket term for several different procedures, such as:

* Video editing of all the picture shots
* Writing, recording, re-recording, and editing the soundtrack
* Adding visual or special effects
* Sound design, sound effects, music, and professional audio mixing
* Transfer of color motion picture film to video, with color correction

It’s often the case that post-production takes longer than the shooting of the film, itself. On a full-length feature film, it can take several months.

In the past, picture editors dealt with (logically enough) pictures, alone. Sound, music, and visual effects editors worked on other aspects of the editing process – usually under the supervision of the picture editor and film director.

Digital hardware and software have put more of these elements under the picture editor’s control. On lower budget films, the editor will often cut in music, basic visual effects, and add sound effects or sound replacements. If resources allow for it, these temporary elements may be refined by specialist teams, hired to complete the picture.

There are several editing stages, of which the editor’s cut comes first. Also known as the assembly edit or rough cut, the editor’s cut is the first pass of what the final film will be.

Prior to cutting, the editor and director will usually have seen or discussed the dailies (raw footage, shot each day). These give the editor some idea of the director’s overall vision. While shooting continues, the editor continues to refine the cut, which might end up being longer than the final film.

When shooting finishes, the director is free to collaborate fully with the editor, and refine the cut of the film. They go over the entire movie: re-ordering shots and scenes, removing unnecessary bits, shortening, and tightening up. If there are plot holes, missing shots, or missing segments, new scenes may have to be filmed. What results from this is known as the director’s cut.

Director’s cuts are tricky. Some work.

James Cameron’s preferred cut of Aliens (1986) contains additional scenes providing helpful context and back stories for the heroic Ellen Ripley (actress Sigourney Weaver) and the equally heroic moppet, Rebecca “Newt” Jorden (played by Carrie Henn).

Some don’t.

There’s been a furore recently over director George Lucas’ latest set of “improved” Star Wars films. The updated CGI effects might work, but his audio enhancements haven’t. Screaming Lord Vader got a massive thumbs-down, from loyal fans.

The final cut comes after the director’s cut is refined by one or more producers, who represent the production company and / or movie studio financing the film. And it’s at this point that “creative differences” often occur.

Ever see the work of a director named Alan Smithee?

In the movie industry, the name “Alan Smithee” is often used by directors who – because of conflicts with the studio – don’t wish to have their name associated with the final cut of a film.

Alan Smithee Presents: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) – a tale in which Smithee himself tries to steal the reels for a potentially disastrous, big-budget action movie – was directed (spookily enough) by Alan Smithee. Otherwise known as Arthur Hiller.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) was a travesty, compared to the magnificence of Hellraiser, the just-above-average Hellraiser II, and the storming Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. Bloodline was directed by Alan Smithee, masquerading as Kevin Yagher (or is that the other way round?)

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) had Dean Tshetter in the Alan Smithee director’s chair. The title was probably the best part of the film.

And so on.

No such problems here, though. Thank God.

Keep your eyes on this space, for the next instalment in this series.

And try to be excellent, in all things. Couldn’t hurt.