Deconstructing the Edit: Hank Corwin, Lost Planet/New York/L.A.

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As long as external forces - malignant egos, fearful studios or clients, political infighting - don't poison a project, there is hope. I try to find love for everything I'm involved with, be it a film or a commercial. I had just finished cutting a Hewlett-Packard launch campaign for Goodby, Silverstein, which Ralf Schmerberg shot, and was asked to edit a new spot from the point of view of the wind, also being directed by Ralf, in Paris. Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby were going to be the art director/writer team and Steve Luker and Steve Simpson were going to be the overall creative directors. This was going to be interesting. The commercial is superficially very simple. It's a huge spot, however, with Paris in three dimensions as the stage. We follow the wind as it tears through the city, wreaking havoc, caressing and brutalizing everything in its path. It cares for nothing. It respects nothing. It has no heart, only momentum. Until it bursts upon a Porsche, which stops it in its tracks, for a brief moment, before moving inexorably onward.

What is the wind? It has no boundaries. It soars. It taunts. It hurts. But the wind doesn't have feelings, as far as we could reckon. It is inhuman, beyond human. The agency wanted the viewer to become one with the wind as it knocks over tables and pisses off lovers and vendors. We find that the wind is amoral, nor does it move linearly. It changes speed and direction, it's jagged. So we incorporated tiny jump cuts and huge speed and directional changes. Goodby gave me a zooty John Zorn track, which I chopped into two- to five-frame segments.

I fragmented a Penderecki and a Gorecki composition, similarly, and then reattached everything into a sonic crazy quilt. I used the track to create and follow the movement and the vibe of the film, not the other way around.

Ralf and his DP, Darius Khondji, shot a moody and cold piece. The blacks are crushed, the colors completely drained. They used huge cranes, swooping around Parisian statues and monuments. Extras were human, limping old men, overweight women, who the wind rushed by and pushed around. Because the film was devoid of color, I was able to jump around in time and space. My personal subtext was occupied Paris in the early 1940s. We were reminded of Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity, a harrowing documentary about Vichy collaboration with Nazi Germany. We didn't think it was necessary to share this with Ralf. At any rate, the spot came together very quickly. Rich and Jeff were back in the trenches. Luker and Simpson kept it honest. Ralf shot a truly amazing and emotional piece of film. And I had a wonderful and gratifying experience.

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