Finding Length

















I am knee-deep in the editing process of my third feature, FAKE IT SO REAL.
The film is structured around a week in the life of a group of indie pro wrestlers. I'm feeling good about it, but I have one worry: Did I make a 2 1/2 hour movie?
Of course that's silly. The film is as long as you cut it. In documentary, the editor/director has almost limitless power in shaping the final film. No scripts, etc. Or do we?
In going through what is now a very very long version of the film, I am suddenly concerned that the delicate balance of character, story, emotion and momentum will be severely disrupted when I (inevitably) have to cut the thing in half. The idealist in me knows that a film should have its own rhythm and the material should dictate length, but the pragmatist knows 95 minutes is about my limit. But why? For festivals? For the relatively tiny (but hopefully vigorous) audience that will take to the film?
I am also a fan of economy in films and I know that at this stage everything seems important to me. I have a lot of faith that my partners in the making of the movie will be prepared to "shoot the painter when the painting's done" (to twist an old analogy).
I guess the concern is that the better movie might find its natural place at an unwieldy length and then I might be forced (by my own desire for economy, by "market" forces, by sleepy viewers/collaborators) to butcher a thing that has come alive. Those that say "kill your babies" have no babies.