Script-to-screen : film editing and collaborative authorship during the Hollywood renaissance
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Hollywood film editing remains on the theoretical margins of contemporary film scholarship, and the cause of this is three-fold. First, despite advances in collaborative authorship studies, the Hollywood film director is still largely regarded as the sole creative lynchpin upon which the film’s success or failure ultimately lies. Second, Classical Hollywood film editing—commonly referred to as the continuity aesthetic—is considered successful if it remains unnoticed, if it remains invisible. Therefore, within this continuity aesthetic, the editor’s ultimate goal is to hide his or her own labor. Third, determining exactly how and where a film editor contributed to a film text during post-production is an incredibly difficult task. So, what is the solution? This dissertation explores how film archives can contribute to knowledge about the cinematic post-production process. My central research questions are: what kinds of information do film archives contain regarding the creative collaboration between the director and the editor? And, what does available archive material tell us about the changes and creative revisions in post-production? To answer these questions, I conducted original archival research on the following Hollywood Renaissance films: Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Conversation (1974), Annie Hall (1977), and Raging Bull (1980). These films reflect a highly creative era in the Hollywood industry and are well-known for the collaborative relationship between the directors and the editors. To determine how and where collaborative authorship occurred in these films, I compared archival documents such as the storyboards and shooting scripts to the final film texts. These documents contain explicit instructions about how the scenes should be lit, decorated, and shot and how the film itself should be edited together. Therefore, I argue that any editing discrepancies between these documents and the final films were the result of a creative collaboration between the director and the editor. Ideally, this model of “script-to-screen” archival research will inspire other academics to investigate how and where a film’s creative revision occurs during post-production—and to what effect.