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Constructing Coma with Fernanda Cardoso

Art forms are pushed forward by those who break from tradition. Individuals who constantly seek to place themselves in challenging and uncomfortable scenarios are the same ones whom lay the foundation for the next iteration of said artform. While it’s not often financially lucrative (what artistic innovation is ever met with support in the beginning stages?) it can meet overwhelming critical praise. When Director Cassiano Prado asked editor Fernanda Cardoso to work on a remarkably unusual new film project, it was with the confidence that the editor was herself an innovator. The resulting series Coma for Getty Images, is truly like nothing you have ever seen; particularly because it is a film which was manifested without filming its own scenes that related to the storyline. This already sounds a bit confusing. Coma won the Silver Lion award for Film at Cannes (2019) and the Gold award for editing in the Clube de Criação Brazilian ad festival. Perhaps never before has the work of an editor been so essential and crucial to a film’s final form. Only by gaining inside knowledge to the way this online series was created can one truly appreciate Fernanda’s herculean efforts to realize this award-winning production.

Cassiano Prado, Fernanda Cardoso and Squarehead

The story of Coma centers on a man’s experiences and thoughts in the midst of a coma. Through his first person experiences and memories, he attempts to understand what happened to him. The suspense is far more visceral than any found footage film because this man questions not only what the motives and actions of others around him are but his own motivations as well. One of the most gripping themes of the plot is whether this man is in fact the villain or the hero. The images seen in Coma are all completely harvested from the Getty Image library. While this sounds impossible, watching the series reveals how riveting and remarkable it truly is. Coma didn’t start out this way though. A previous editor had failed to achieve the grand tone that Prado required. Fernanda’s stellar reputation for feature films like It’s Darker Before Down and the documentary film about Senna, the Formula One pilot (directed by Asif Kapadia, Oscar winner for the Amy Winehouse documentary) had made her one of the most popular editors in the country; the invitation was offered and accepted.


Because the footage for Coma was procured from Getty Images, Fernanda’s process for creating the imagery for this series was working with her researcher [Guilherme] to locate the visuals that would match the script she was given, filtered through her own ideas. This amounted to much more than merely content; it required the proper cinematography, character skills, mood, look, etc. that would match the emotional core of the script. Equal parts talent, skill, and interpretation were combined as Cardoso found the perfect scenes in her mind and then harvested them from the Getty library. Numerous hospital scenes are integral to the storyline. The continuity of the main character’s appearance and that of the hospital room belie the very fact that they were sourced from different shoots with completely different people and locations. Explaining one of the more psychological challenges, Fernanda communicates, “One of the hardest parts was to define when we would stay in his mind and when we would be in the reality. Even at the hospital, when showing the faces of the doctors face and nurses… I had to make this decision. We could be inside his mind, figuring out what the doctor and nurses look like or we could be there, with him, seeing the doctors and the nurses by ourselves. At the beginning it was all about feeling and then we started to make our own ‘insider’s rules and laws.”

Cardoso admits that winning a Lion at Cannes is substantial validation of her work but also contends that there are smaller, more private victories that equal this. Both Fernanda and another editor were given the opportunity to cut Coma. After the viewing of the other editor’s cut at the agency presentation, her version was shown and met with instant enthusiasm. Amid the excitement, questions were asked of the director but it was only Fernanda who was able to give insight due to the nature of editing on Coma. In an industry where a man is all too often the default for information, here was one instance where the only female production team member had all the answers.

Author: Patrick Wilson

Constructing Coma with Fernanda Cardoso Reviewed by JaamZIN on 6:39:00 AM Rating: 5
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