Yesterday was not my favourite day in this process.
Last night I had to tell one of our actors that we'd cut her scene in the film - relegated it to the vague promise of "DVD extras" should that ever be realistic. It's a reality I've been prepared for in general for quite some time. And most of our actors know that cutting is a reality and that their only or best scene could end up on the editing room floor. But this was a special case.
I don't even know where to begin explaining the needs of cutting for time to a child.
Worse yet, the child in question was my niece, Kassandra - "Kaz."
I talked to her Mom, my sister, Tara first so she knew what was coming and could be prepared to console. I figured that once I told Kaz, that anything I said would be irrelevant - I'd be the bad guy and that the chances of any reason being heard coming from my mouth would dwindle towards zero.
I'm not sure that Kaz fully appreciated what I was telling her at first. I led with the 'up' side - that her scene would be in the DVD extras (ugh - now I HAVE to follow through on that promise or forever be a monster). She said "I don't care. That's okay."
I explained how her scene was cut due to no fault of hers. The scene preceeding it was too long, too technically compromised and ultimately didn't truly forward the plot. It DID add a nice extra dimension to one character and provide back-story... back story that turns out to be a lie, so removing it definitely changes the film. But the scene following - Kaz's scene - is the punchline to the faux back-story scene. Without the set-up the scene is pointless. It's too bad. It's a funny scene. Gets laughs every time we screen it. Unfortunately that isn't enough - especially when we are seriously trying to shave time.
I went on to tell her how happy I was that she was in my film and that she would always be in my film in my heart and mind... and that's where I started to lose it.
Kaz gave the phone back to Tara, and I commented on how I was taking it worse than she was. Tara told me that as soon as she turned over the phone her stoic facade crumbled. I'm guessing that not being in the film is lousy for Kaz. For two years she's been looking forward to being in a movie. She has told friends that she's in a movie. I made a liar out of her. I'm so sorry for that kiddo. Perhaps she was being 'strong' while she talked to me, or perhaps it wasn't until she heard how it was affecting me that the gravity of it sunk in. Either way, I feel like shit.
Picture lock is days away now. Tonight is our last test screen - the first in ages. This time for some folk with industry insight. Should be interesting. Hopefully it'll lift my spirits a bit.