Someone else shoots and someone else edits. So what exactly do I do on A Life’s Work besides sit opposite these amazing people and ask them a bunch of questions?
I make a lot of decisions. Who, what, where, when? I decide those. I come to a location with a shot list, knowing that in a documentary it may be useless since so much is determined by what’s available and not what I can set up, block, or stage. So I decide how to adjust. In post-production, I talk with the editor a lot and review the progress of the edit and I say, “Yes, I like this. No, I don’t like this.” “Can we go in this direction?” “Can we find a way to include this shot?”
But I do sometimes shoot, and I do construct a rough edit, and it’s a running joke with this director, and I suspect others, that when one of my shots or edits makes it into a finished film, I note the shot or edit with cheeky pride. “Yeah, that’s my shot.” “Yeah, that’s my edit.”
Our egos are fragile, you see. And so much of what we do is a mystery, that we really do need to let the world know when we did some tangible part of the finished film.
So here, this one is mine. (The banter doesn’t start until 30 seconds in.)
See also: How Do You Write a Documentary?