The Editing of Cop on the Edge IX

An account on the editing of an action movie

How long is this film anyhow?
The editing period for ‘Cop’ was a long and arduous task, one which very quickly showed us how long the film would eventually be. Still hoping for a 20 minute piece, the first scene came it at just under 6 minutes with the title sequence still to follow, and still a further 15 scenes after that. This meant our 20 minute piece was looking decidedly on the large side.

Jimmy on the Rooftop

Jimmy holds his gun with two hands


Cut to just the one hand


And back to two again

Matching Action
The first scene was in fact edited twice, the first time by Darren Jamieson. This first cut was edited primarily for matching action, and not for pacing of the shots, whereas the re-edit, once Eddie Keaton had returned from Manchester, ignored matching the action and concentrated solely on the pacing.

If you take a look at the work of Martin Scorsese you’ll see that his films are full of ‘matching action errors’, that is where two separate shots from different takes are cut together in the same scene, and the actor(s) involved are doing different things in the two shots i.e. looking in a different direction, holding a glass with a different hand etc. This does not matter for the power of the scene as no one really notices it, the timing of the cuts for pacing proves more important.

That’s never going to cut
Whilst editing the film’s first big action sequence, Darren Jamieson and Eddie Keaton were confronted with a major problem. Due to the ill health of actor Marijan von Staufer, the chase sequence was filmed over a period of several weeks resulting in some very contrasting weather conditions. An underground chase quickly had to be formed and inserted into the film in order to disguise the torrential down pour, which through clever editing and sound work, just about passed. This did mean however, that the scene was split into five separate sections, giving it a very fragmented feel.

We’ll never get away with this
For the dramatic finale’ to the car chase, we had a spectacular tanker explosion worked out, trouble was, how the hell could we do it? Simple, model work. If it’s good enough for Captain Scarlet, it’s good enough for us. But won’t in show cutting from a real van speeding down the road to a ‘pull back and go’ model hitting a plastic remote controlled oil tanker? Probably, but who cares?

The van, driven by a Mancunian Sanchez (no editing could save that accent) speeds away before crashing into an oil tanker and bursting into flames, Goldeneye style.