Floating around in cyberspace there’s an article entitled 12 Breeds of Clients and How to Work with Them. But only 12? Come on! What about Susanne?

The Presidio Film Center, San Francisco, 2002. Son-in-law George Lang has completed a three-day shoot for WaterGym, Susanne Paynovich’s water aerobics business. I’m to edit a one-hour training video. When the lady in question arrives, she has George’s tapes plus 50 Mini DVs of her own. No worries with George’s stuff — but another 50 hours! Spare me…

No one behind the camera, Susanne by Susanne.

SAVED BY THE MACBOOK PRO. I see a MacBook Pro in her bag. Hmmm … a crazy idea. She looks smart and savvy. I’ll teach her Final Cut Pro. She can edit it herself.
“Susanne, you know better than anyone else how this is meant to go together. I’ll transfer the tapes on to FireWire drives and teach you how to edit. You’ll need to buy Final Cut.”
And she does. Let the lessons begin!

“Move the cursor here to mark an IN point. Hit the space bar to play. Stop. Now mark the OUT, that’s the end of the shot.”

“Sweetie, let me do it.”

She grabs my mouse. I take it back; soon we are fighting over the mouse. I give up, get a spare mouse and plug it into the keyboard. Susanne moves her mouse one way; I move my mouse the other. The cursor is dancing all over the screen. We collapse in laughter.

Lessons over, she takes away the drives and works from home. After a month, she’s back with 20 separate timelines; one for each exercise, one for the testimonials, one for HOW TO USE THIS VHS, one for the interview and so on.

CUT TO THE CHASE. I assemble the show. The opening is a long ramble about the wonders of WaterGym. Now there’s 10 minutes of testimonials. Next, five minutes of HOW TO USE THE FLOTATION JACKET. Then the dreary interview with Susanne. OMG, it’s 20 minutes before the first WaterGym exercise!

“Susanne, it’s got to start faster. Get rid of the testimonials. Dump that awful TV interview. I’ll ask George to shoot an intro of you by the pool.”

Silly me. I’m talking to wonder woman, Client Breed #13.

The next day, all by herself, she sets up her DV camera, hits RECORD and runs around to the front. “Hi! I’m Susanne Paynovich. Welcome to WaterGym.” It’s perfect! What have I started? She shoots and edits. What next?

There’s a male VO reading a script. It’s terrible. “Susanne, you don’t need this voiceover. Narrate it yourself!” She goes home. Uses the on-camera Sony mike.

A week later, we have a new voiceover. Halfway into to the edit, she says it’s no good. Can do better. Re-records her VO from scratch. It is better, much better.

She brings in an underwater ballet that she shot herself — of herself.

“Sweetie, I have a question. I want the ballet to be in slow motion?”

“Under the MODIFY menu, go SPEED, try 50%.”

Susanne shoots herself dancing underwater.

BREED 13 NOW WANTS TO DO EFFECTS. “Sweetie, I have a question. This water looks green and this water looks blue. I want to match them.”

“Very tricky. Let me do the color grade.”

“No, I really want to do it myself.”

While I’m getting out the FCP manual, she is going through her own books.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ve worked it out. You use this eyedropper. Find the reference color. Store it here. Then with this eyedropper…”

That was six years ago. She still phones.

“Sweetie, I’m making a DVD. I have a question about motion menus.”

Any more clients like this and we are out of business.

You can see a clip from Susanne’s WaterGym video at gym.html.

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