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FUNCTIONALITY OF FILM EDITING VISION AS QUINTESSENCE IN FILMMAKING_ A STUDY OF BILLIONAIRE’S CLUB AND FEAST OF HONOUR

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                                                    CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1. Background to the Study

The film production process is a combination of several art forms which involves specified application of specialized technology that are so intrinsically interwoven, interdependent and inseparable. Therefore, the artistic creativity required in film production process involves several professionals, practitioners and artisans. One of such is the film editor, who albeit not eminently visible like other contributors such as the director, the actors and actresses, is no doubt crucial in the filmmaking process. Meanwhile, in the process of film production, it is herculean to ascertain whose input supersedes that of the other in the process of film production. Hence, in the research, focus is not on the film scriptwriter, who produces as well as technically scripts the story; the film director, whose thought and expertise transforms the story from mere literary art on paper to a perceivable visual art on celluloid for the screen through the cinematic art, but on the film editor. The study’s primal focus is on the conceptuality and dimensions to the editor’s creative vision towards functionality of the film as a whole. Majorly, the film editor’s vision creatively embellish, remodels and refines the raw cuts into a consumable whole ready for the screen in its projected creative essence.

Clearly, the study appreciates the facts that the art of film production has several starting or take-off points which are inextricably acknowledgeable as crucial and essential. Essentially, the film production process can be segmented into three stages. These stages are the conception of idea or story, the capturing of the story through cinematic camera, and the third stage is the fine-tuning of the captured images. At the level of the passive film viewer/analyst or the professional film critic, there are basic start points; the conception; the idea is conceived and developed in the mind of the scriptwriter who sets it down on paper as a complete work. Meanwhile the gestation period, represents the stage the film director takes over the film script and begins to transforms the ‘idea in paper’ to a screen product, the celluloid. At this stage the film director commences the actual process of making or producing the film. This involves the painstaking identification, engagements, coordination, mobilization and motivation of the crew members, the casts, the set and other elements including the budget towards ultimate delivery of the film. The third stage is the final delivery of the film in an aesthetically professional, realistic and appreciable form. The final form of the cinematic production for audience consumption is achieved at this stage especially in a digital filmmaking process. The art and technology of film editing elucidates the quality, and or the import of the film both in message and the allure of its beauty to the gaze. An adequate comprehension of the process of the artistic and technical components of film making is a requisite for an intelligible criticism of film as a medium and art form. Therefore with adequate knowledge, the filmmaking process can be a worthwhile experience.

Consequently, filmmaking is undoubtedly very technical and engaging of the all the art forms. The mode and nature of the involvement of technological components and the currency of its evolution renders film study very fascinating and enterprising. The evolving nature of film is realizable in the manipulative techniques of editing which captures the details of time, space, in some cases the realization of the physical and naturally unrealizable circumstances or ideals. In the quest to articulate film, the ingenuity of the human creativity and the management of the technological apparatus cannot be over-emphasized in the three stages identified above. However, it is probably evident to the prying and inquisitive eyes to make some distinction between the ‘art’ of film production and the technical prowess exhibited in ‘digital’ filmmaking through the manipulative acumen of the film editor. It is evidently so in the utilization of special effects and inclusion of new media components in filmmaking. The art of the film editing is as crucial to the quality of the finished film as any other factor in the filmmaking process. The editor is also a creative artist, worthy of acknowledgements and credits.

Therefore, the study examines analytically the creative contribution of the film editor by evaluating the functionality of editing in the films, Feast of Honour directed by Ernest Obi and edited by Chuks Madu Success and Billionaire’s Club directed by Afam Okereke and edited Linus Akubuilo. In assessing the functionality of editing, the study looks into the aesthetic, transformational, conceptual, and representational qualities of the editorial inclusions in the selected films.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

From scholarly point of view, the appreciation of the extent of the creative vision of a film editor towards making implicit and explicit impact on the outcome of a completed film by presentation to the consumers is fairly acknowledged by significant number of people. However, knowledge of the dimensions and contexts of the film editor’s creative impact to a finished film which is deemed ready for public consumption is apparently not robust and deep in most film consumers. Hence, the context of the above supposition has not been explored in a comparative study on the Nollywood films Billionaire’s Club and Feast of Honour. Therefore, even though we know that the filmmaking process involves some transitory stages involving the artistic and technical activities of a combination and collaboration of a variety of artists, we really see much scholarly study on the creative vision of the editor towards enhancing the functionality of the film. Clearly, from the preponderance of studies, we learn that the film director’s creative vision propels the film making process, through the understanding of narrative before taking decision on making it into a visual and aural art with the effective assemblage of the elements of the film art and technology and cinematic apparatus. However, creative vision of the editor is that of transforming the ‘bits and pieces’ of the director’s skilful artistry into the finished film product for the screen as the ultimate end process for the filmmaking enterprise. Evidently, what this indicates is that the process of film production is intricate and collaborative; however some of the artistic collaborators are more visible than the others. Particularly, the film editor, even though he/she contributes significantly, yet his/her creative efforts are not mostly appreciated by many film consumers. Hence, there is the need to critically evaluate selected films as a means of deepening the consumers’ appreciation of the creative vision of the editor towards the functionality of the films.

1.3. Research Questions

A research is an attempt to pry into, investigate, examine, analyse and undertake a critical thinking in a bid to address questions that presents in the process of the study. In the forgoing study, the researcher attempts to further analyse the functionality of the creative editing vision of the film editor by examining the following:

  • How did the editor’s vision contribute towards conceptual view of the films Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club?
  • How did the editor’s creativity contribute towards the enhancement of overall aesthetic of Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club?
  • How did the editor’s vision contribute towards the realization of the non-actable aspects of the story in Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club?

 

 

1.4. Objectives of the Study

The study attempts to discuss the functionality of the editor’s creative vision in the selected two Nollywood films, namely Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club in a bid to further deepen our appreciation of the import of editor’s contribution towards the films’ overall aesthetics, concept projection, total representation of the story, and ability to recreate the none actable aspects of the story. Hence, the study proposes to:

  • Discuss analytically how the editor’s creative vision contributes towards conceptual view of the films Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club
  • Examine elaborately how the editor’s creative vision contributes towards the enhancement of overall aesthetics of Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club
  • Evaluate sufficiently how the editor’s creative vision contributes towards the realization of the non-actable aspects of the story in the films Feast of Honour and Billionaire’s Club

1.5. Significance of the Study

The established basis for the formation of the concepts and theories of film has taken root in the ideas, messages and nuances of the film editor’s art. Consideration is primarily focused on the mise-en-scene, and the components of design and composition, the genre classification, and the thematic focus. All these aspects of film are integral to a deeper appreciation of the aesthetics of film as well as the contribution of the film editor. A well plotted and composed film with all the cinematic capture of the motion picture camera without the finishing touch of the film editor would still leave much to be desired particularly in pursuance of the aim to achieve qualitative film as a finished product.

 

Therefore, the study which attempts to analytically examine the functionality of the editing vision in selected two Nollywood films, Billionaire’s Club and Feast of Honour will go a long way in adding to the existing knowledge on the significance of film editing in the entire film making process. More important, the choice of Nigerian Nollywood films as the focus of study increases the value of the study because very little scholarly research has been concluded and published in this aspect of film study. Therefore, it is significant to consider the very essence of the art and technology of film editing in filmmaking as an intellectual creative vision within Nigerian Nollywood context.

1.6. Scope of the Study

The study does not assume the status of an overtly deep plunge into the abyss of existing theories, rather an analytical examination of the import and contexts the film editor’s creative vision in Billionaire’s Club and Feast of Honour as a means of assessing the functionality of the editor’s role in these selected films. Consequently, the study examines the aesthetics, conceptual, transformational and representational qualities and implications of the editor’s creative vision in the selected films. Hence, the study examines the editor’s application of independent creative latitude in his/her process of attaining the directorial vision of the film’s director. Besides, the study attempts to analyse how the effort of the film editor achieves concordance with the theoretical and thematic trajectories of the film’s story and apparent portrayals. Therefore, this elaborates how crucial the contribution of the editor is in achieving high quality and standards in the selected films for the study.

1.7. Research Methodology

The study adopts Interpretive Analytical Discourse approach in examining the functionality of the editor’s creative vision in the selected Nollywood films for the study. The research approach entails a critical analysis, and interpretation of aspects of a given research subject in a bid to provide plausible explanation of realities embedded in the research subject in line with corroborative existing and assessable knowledge. In effect, the research approach entails meticulous collation of secondary data as basis of informed analogy and exploration in a bid to arrive at verifiable conclusion. In line with the same opinion, the research approach includes prying into related documented reference materials contained in published books and journals, as well as generation of fresh unpublished ideas through observations and critical analysis. Again, the study will complement the interpretive analytical discourse approach with the artistic research methodology. The method employs the dependency on the intuitive inclinations of the researcher, inspirations, imaginations which are common features, with the film studies and theatre arts scholars and critics. The Artistic Research methodology adopts the reliance on the creative and interpretative instincts of the scholar for the development of the film making mechanism. The method involves sufficient input of relevant theories and concepts in other to mitigate the reliance of speculative tendencies. It is within the purview of the Artistic Research methodology that the researcher intends to examine the relevant theories of film making applicable to the role and states of the film director and the film editor as skilful in the art and technology of film making.

1.8. Theoretical Framework

The beauty of art lies very critically in its concepts and theories. The theories propel the ideas and shape the message and nature of the art.  Consequently, without appropriate theories, the art work will be vague and rudderless. Appropriate theories point the desired direction that the art form is headed to determine the categorization in terms of genre, theme, subject matter and plot.  In the course of the study, the researcher relies on the arguments and positions of the following theories namely; the Attribution theory, and Semiotics theory. In our summation, the listed theories amply relate the role of the editor in the film making process and have in one way or the other identified the significance of the art and technology of film editing in the analysis of film as an interactive art form and medium. Aspects of Attribution and Semiotics as propounded by some theorists maintain that the film art reflect reality through the creation of the artist. The Realist theorist on the other hand insists that film should represent society as much as possible and the as aspect of verisimilitude is a crucial consideration.

Attribution is theory which has relevance in several academic disciplines and according to Bertram Malle “the term attribution has two primary meanings” (72). He goes on to explain that Attribution Theory has components to it, thus:

The first refers to explanations of behavior (i.e., answers to why questions); the second refers to inferences or ascriptions (e.g., inferring traits from behavior, ascribing blame to a person). What the two meanings have in common is a process of assigning: in attribution as explanation, a behavior is assigned to its cause; in attribution as inference, a quality or attribute is assigned to the agent on the basis of an observed behavior. (Malle 72)

Fritz Heider is widely viewed as the first theorist that began the process of articulating the concept and later, he moves towards theorizing on the idea of attribution academically. In line with Malle’s review on the principles of Heider’s Attribution Theory conceptualization:

Fritz Heider developed models of attribution for both object perception and person perception. His theory of object perception (first described in Heider, 1920, his dissertation) is rarely cited today, but it serves as the foundation for his later theory of person perception. (Malle 72)

Furthering on Heider’s theorizing on attribution as elucidated by Malle, it is evident that Heider’s central theme on the principles on attribution is that naturally, perception leaps over the raw data presented, which in turn enables the person to appreciate and make meaning of different and signifying properties that define and distinguish them. Furthermore, Malle explains that:

Heider attempted to solve one of the core philosophical problems of phenomenology: the relation between sensory information and real objects. That is, he asked how it was possible that humans perceive qualities of objects in the world even though all they have are sensations in the mind. (73)

In this regard Malle observes that human acknowledgement of what they perceive has do mainly with their ability to decode what the particular sense is capturing, hence he notes:

Heider argued that real objects shape ‘media’ such as air pressure, light reflections, and sense organs. These media have a considerable degree of variance (for one thing, they reflect many real objects), but the perceptual apparatus reconstructs real objects from their characteristic effects on the media. Heider labeled this reconstruction attribution – a process that generates inferences of the relatively invariant qualities of things from the characteristic variance patterns they cause in their media. (73)

In line with Hastorf et al, cardinal and central to Heider’s entire theoretical position is the proposition that man perceives behavior as being caused, and that the causal locus can be either in the perceiver or in the environment (63). This observation by Hastorf et al is reflected in Heider’s position, were he contends that persons are “perceived as action centers and as such can do something to us” thus “they can benefit or harm us intentionally, and we can benefit or harm them” and “persons have abilities, wishes and sentiments; they can act purposefully, and can perceive or watch us” (21). Explaining further on Heider’s conceptualization, Malle observes that:

Heider proposed that a process of attribution is involved in person perception as well, but he recognized that person perception is more complex than object perception – due to the manifold observational data available and the various causes (e.g., beliefs, desires, emotions, traits) to which these data can be attributed. In addition, it was clear to Heider that persons are very different targets of perception than inanimate objects. (73)

The other theory which will form the basis of the analogy is the Semiotics Theory. Unarguably, as Sanders rightly points out, Ferdinand de Saussure is best known for his contribution to structural linguistics as compiled by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye from the notes of students who attended a series of lectures presented by Saussure between 1907 and 1911 and published posthumously in 1916 in the book Cours de linguistiquegénérale, a “Course in general linguistics” (1). According to Sanders, the influence of Saussure’s stretches far beyond the area of linguistics as within his series of lectures he introduces his theory of ‘sémiologie’ or ‘signologie’, commonly referred to as the Saussurean tradition in the field of semiotics (240). In the ‘Course on general linguistics’, Saussure defines a language:

As a system of signs, and maintains that the signs of language have only one essential thing to them: the union of a concept and an acoustic image. (John Joseph in Sanders, 60)

Saussure is credited with the introduction of the terms signifier and signified as an alternative to the terms acoustic image and concept, and he goes on to note:

I propose to retain the word sign [signe] to designate the whole and to replace concept and sound-image respectively by signified [signifié] and signifier [signifiant]; the last two terms have the advantage of indicating the opposition that separated them from each other and from the whole of which they are parts. (Ferdinand de Saussure in Holdcroft, 51)

Hence the terms, acoustic image and concept, signifier and signified, are used interchangeably throughout Saussure’s work and the research of contemporary semioticians who follow the Saussurean tradition. Saussure defines the process of signification that occurs when perceiving a linguistic sign as follows:

A linguistic sign is not a link between a thing and a name, but between a concept [signified] and a sound pattern [signifier]. The sound pattern is not actually a sound, for a sound is something physical. A sound pattern is the hearer’s psychological impression of a sound, as given to him by the evidence of his senses. This sound pattern may be called a ‘material’ element only in that it is the representation of our sensory impressions. The sound pattern may thus be distinguished from the other element associated with it in a linguistic sign. This other element is generally of a more abstract kind: the concept. (Ferdinand de Saussure in Chandler, 14)

Daniel expounding on the contextualization and application of Semiotics observes that in order to demonstrate a given process of signification, he adopts the linguistic sign for ‘cat’, as an example. It consists of the signifier (the word ‘cat’) and the signified concept (a feline animal). Chandler notes that Saussure strictly does not, however, regard the signifier as a sign for the signified, however on the contrary, in the formation of the sign, he regards both the signifier and signified as psychological entities and sees them “as inseparable as the two sides of a piece of paper… wholly interdependent, neither pre-existing the other” as demonstrated in the Saussurean diagram (Chandler, 17).

The adopted theoretical frameworks of the theories of Attribution and Semiotics are both relevant to the research undertaking. In the first instance the editing process applies the concept juxtaposition of objects to draw meaning and explanations that eventually enhances the narrative meaning of the selected films. This falls within the framework of the Attribution theory and in the same vein the Semiotics theory comes into play with the various levels of images and representations as signifiers and the signified as analyzed in Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory. The semiotic theory reflects a conceptualization that relates to meanings of words or objects as depicting inferred meanings or interpretations of other suggestive inferences that instinctively portrays the meanings that complements or enhances the narrative of the story or plot. Besides, in the same manner as the syntax or structure of a language facilitates or enhances the meaning and ultimate understanding of the content, context and the intent of the message of the expression, the features of the objects and images of the film are equally contributive to the general meaning and aesthetic of the narrative of the film or movie in the final analysis. These theoretical frames are selected for the study because they in many ways help in deepening the discussion and explication of the

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