Arts & Entertainment

Editing (cont'd)

Steve Martin

Lesson time 15:25 min

With particular emphasis on the life of a written piece once it's in the hands of actors and directors, Steve continues discussing his editing practices. He then puts his critical eye into action to analyze Beth's sketch.

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Topics include: Always Suspect the Line • Student Session: Editing Beth’s Sketch • The Audience Is Your Editor


In movies lines aren't as precious because, you know, often, in order to make it feel real, the line is not so written. It's much more conversational. Sometimes you get a great line and you want to keep it that way, but a lot of times I would look over best lines from the movies of 2008 and you'd look down the list and it would be, "Let's get out of here!", you know, and they're really talking about the moment in the movie, not the line. You only test dialogue by running it with the actors, and I remember a scene in a movie I did, which I wrote, called Simples Twist of Fate-- it was not a big hit or anything-- and I had a scene that was between two characters, I wasn't in it, and I was having trouble making the links-- I needed to get like three points made in this scene, which is always trouble, and I thought, OK, here's point one, here's point two. It's not it's not flowing great but also, on the other hand, I'm thinking this is the way people talk. They kind of jump around a little bit, they change the subject. So I made an excuse and said, OK, that will be fine, and they went off to shoot the scene-- I wasn't there-- and when it came back it had been changed, more correctly, by the actors because they were having trouble leaping from one thought to the next as actors, and it worked out fine, but I find if an actor's having trouble, I'm suspicious of the line. I always investigate the line. If they can't remember it for some reason it means maybe it's not following correctly. So, I really just listen to the flow of the conversation and also the actor's trouble could indicate a problem with the line. [MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, let's take a look at this sketch that Beth wrote that I found very funny and it's really good. It's about some very smug people having a creepy upper-class memory and I'm looking at it and I'm going well, OK, it's five pages, and I did feel that maybe there's like one beat too many that, you know, you get the idea. Now you're just reiterating the idea, but anyway, this is Remember the Titanic. They're sitting on a lawn, what a lovely breeze, Isabela says, "Hey, that reminds me of the time we took that trip on that ocean liner. What was that called? Oh yes, the RMS Titanic. What a what a fine trip that was." "Oh, yes, the Titanic. That was the spring of 1945. Do I remember that correctly?" "Oh, yes, remember Evelyn? That's the year you started wearing those lovely long necklaces." "Oh, yes, but remember how they were always getting caught on the soup ladles in the parlor? What a disaster." "But ladies, let's not forget-- that trip wasn't all fun and games." "Oh, yes, you and Evelyn got into that lover's spat." "I got so mad I threw a half full cup of tea at you." "Yes, but luckily something caused the ship to jerk sharply and you missed, throwing the cup overboard." "Oh, thank heavens I didn't hurt you." Sorry, I'm not doing justice to you...

About the Instructor

One of Steve’s first gigs was at the drive-in movies. When the audience liked a joke, they honked. In this comedy class, Steve shares insights from performing for cars and humans over a 50-year career spanning sold-out arenas and blockbuster films. Learn how to find your voice, gather material, develop an act, and take your comedy writing to the next level.

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Steve Martin

Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act.

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