Nikki Comninos talking about "My Beautiful Game".

"My Beautiful Game is a 13 part documentary series that explores African football within its broader historical, cultural and anthropological narratives. The show covers stories across the entire African continent. There is a kaleidoscope of geography, politics, and national characteristics as one traverses the continent from Cairo to Lagos to Cape Town.

The specific, SAFTA nominated episode, Fish Out of Water, is an exploration of the challenges facing African footballers lured over to Europe by lucrative contracts. It looks at the issues of acclimatizing to a foreign environment, the loneliness and the alienation.

CUTAWAY: How would you describe what makes editing a docci unique to other genres?
NIKKI: I think that documentary editing is unique because of the amount problem solving that goes into it. You need to think about narrative, about mood, about pace and about structure – and often you find none of that has been planned, or can be planned. It all happens in post.

CUTAWAY: What was the timespan to cut My Beautiful Game?
NIKKI: My beautiful Game is a 13 part series, of which I edited 9. I worked on the series for 4 months.

CUTAWAY: What format was it shot on?
NIKKI: It was shot on the Phantom camera, Bolex and the Sony XDCAM.

CUTAWAY: How would you describe your workflow?
NIKKI: The work flow for this project was quite interesting. The crew and directors went all over the continent and the world getting interviews with the biggest players in the international soccer community. In total there were over 200. I worked closely with an assistant editor, Joanne Fencham, who sorted the interviews according to question into various bins for the 13 different episodes. I then spent time listening to all the interviews and trying to create a meaningful story and structure for each programme. My narrative flow was very dependent on the interviewees. I soon discovered my favourite interviewees and would often return to their raw interviews when I got stuck.

CUTAWAY: Tell us more about your collaboration on the project.
NIKKI: I worked closely with Marc Rowlston who was the director of the documentary, but all the D.O.P. It is always interesting and rewarding working with people who have crossover skills, because the blend of various crafts always lends new insights and a nice edge.

CUTAWAY: What Editing System do you use?
NIKKI: Final Cut Pro.

CUTAWAY: How would you describe your method/approach in cutting a Docci?
NIKKI: My approach tends to differ from project to project. But what I like to do is watch all the raw footage without making any cuts or ordering it. I just make notes on paper. I then let it rest in my head, I give myself some space and in that time figure out what narratives started to form while I was watching the visuals, what were the most compelling aspects. I then work out a structure, it may be linear or completely temporally experimental. I try to work out a narrative flow that draws one in, gives some arcs and keeps you enthralled. I look at the character, or the narrative thrust and plot the development points. Depending on the director, this could be where we begin discussion and take about what the vision is for the film, and how best to achieve it. I also try to work out what kinds of visual motifs exists in the story, and of course in the footage and so begin thinking about a style for the film. Then slowly but surely I start refining my ideas by experimenting with them in the actual edit. Only after several breakdowns, recuting, uncutting the recut, and then cutting a new cut do you get to the final piece.

CUTAWAY: To what degree do you focus on Sound during your cutting?
NIKKI: Sound is a very important part of editing. Depending on the project audio can be a very fun aspect to play with in the edit. Creating a good sound design has raise the bar of a film. Like everyone, I just watched Black Swan, and the sound design was something that stayed with me.
 This project had many montages cut to the beat of music, so a lot of time was spent choosing that music. Dialogue editing is also important, and one needs to pay close, close attention to audio. Not just the flow of the words, but the delivery.

CUTAWAY: Are you involved in other aspects of Post Production?
NIKKI: I often collaborate with the online editors and brainstorm ideas. But I leave the actual work of online to the pros."

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