Q&A with Director Peter Farrelly Page 4
A lot of directors now rely on storyboards and are more interested in capturing what they've already envisioned than in having anything unique happen in front of the camera. For them, it's about grabbing shots so they have something to cut together. But it seems like you're more interested in capturing the interplay between the characters. I do want to see it as it's happening. But there are occasions where a scene comes together in the editing room. Well, all scenes, of course, come together in the editing room. But I do want to see it on the day we're shooting it. I have to see that scene. Basically, if it's not working in the master shot, it's not working. You get the close-ups to accentuate scenes, to be more specific, and to make them better and clearer. But, yeah, it really should play in the master or you're in some kind of trouble.
But physical stuff usually you put together in the editing room. Things like Matt Dillon in Mary giving the dog mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR - that scene was painful to shoot. It was slow, sluggish, not funny. He's pumping this little doll, and not for a second are you buying it - until you put in certain sound effects, cut it in a way that moves it along, cut to the reactions of the people in the other room. Suddenly, you have something.
Also, in Dumb & Dumber, the snowball-in-the-face joke was completely unfunny as we were shooting it. She's just thrown a snowball and then we say, "OK, now put your face down. Let's put some snow on your face. Now come on up." And the crew's looking at us like, "What is happening here? Why is he doing this?" And we're saying, "Well, because he's an idiot." They aren't quite grasping it. So now we're not even sure. But then we get in the editing room, we cut it together, and then we put in the sound effect of the snowball hitting her face. We tried many, many sound effects, and they were kind of funny, sort of funny, not funny - until finally we found one we all laughed at, which was the crack of the bat of Henry Aaron hitting his 715th home run. And it's hysterical, it's such a harsh hit.
I'm thinking in particular here of some of the scenes in the honeymoon suite in Heartbreak where if you showed them out of context, the audience would think they were from a drama. You have these amazingly emotional fights going on, and that's not an editing thing, is it? No. That's working there - although we do it so many times that the actors come up with new things. There were many ways to cut that together. There was her walking out shouting [whispers], "You're a fucking asshole!" - my kids just got home - or, like, "Dickweed!" or "Shithead!" or stuff to indicate different levels of her emotions. She gave us a lot. I mean, she's insane, by the way, Malin Akerman - insanely good. That woman was shockingly good - maybe the best casting we've ever done. With Something About Mary, we already knew about Cameron Diaz and knew we wanted her. But with this girl, Malin Akerman, it was like, "Who is she?" She walked in, we didn't know who she was, and she just killed us, and she continued to kill us while we were filming.
If she had been at all weak, the film would have collapsed. Yeah.