The editing process lasted several months. We didn’t drop the butterfly at first. At a certain point we reached the stage where we had to shorten the film even more and cut out 2 or 3 minutes. This was demanded by the distributor, and was out of our hands. So we began to search. I had to shorten the film by 2 minutes, and I had the sequence with the butterfly lasting half a minute, where nothing was happening most of the time. And the camera movement wasn’t fluid as it pulled away. Andrzej Jakimowski and I watched it and finally took the decision to get rid of the butterfly; the shot began with the camera already in motion. We had a screening. Adam was very annoyed with me: How could I do it? I’ve got no feelings, I don’t understand anything.
We argued about that shot for two months. I was exhausted by it. I even told Adam that if he could find me twelve seconds to cut somewhere else I’d put the butterfly back in. I finally watched the film – with a focus on special effects – with Rafał “Rufio” Wieczorek, who was the assistant director of photography, and also responsible for digital special effects. We reached the crucial moment and Adam started up again: “There was a butterfly here, but Grzesiuk heartlessly cut it out.” Rufio sent us to our corners. He cut the flight of the butterfly out of a still frame and put it in when the camera was already moving. We each got what we wanted.
This example shows that the partnership between the director of photography and the editor can function on many levels. It’s great when the director of photography is involved emotionally and engages at every stage of the work. But it does demand maturity and placing the good of the film over individual interests. The worst situations are ones when instead of fighting for the good of the film, we take part in self-absorbed rivalry. Because a film is something that constantly evolves. Initial ideas are often totally different than the final result. I occasionally look at our work and can’t believe how difficult and time-consuming it is to reach the final form. When I watch the film Imagine, it seems a very simple film. Everything is so banal; cut something here, past something here, cut something here.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Albert Einstein
For the hundred minutes of the screening I wonder where those ten months of work we spent on editing went. The entire time I’m amazed why we don’t know how to do certain things much more quickly – what to do and how to do it. But in the end I think it can’t be done any other way. Everything has to mature in its own time in the co-creators’ heads. You only end up with a good film when all of its co-creators – including the editor – feel the story, its narrative power, because the most important thing in the cinema is when the audience watch the film. They aren’t interested in over-aestheticised cinematographic flourishes, tricks of editing or amazing music. The story is what matters and you have to work on a film to tell the story as well as possible.