Film Short: Notes from a First Time Producer on Editing

Published On May 26, 2010 | By admin | film, Film Short, Filmmaker, filmmaking

Last Sunday Executive Producer Chris Battle and I sat down with a wonderfully talented young man, who is working on what we hope will be the final edit of “Accused”.  Since this is a short film lasting approximately 17.5 minutes and was shot back in November of 2009, Chris and I have been hearing two trains of thought on the amount of time the editing process has been taking.  One camp has been telling us we should stop trying to achieve perfection and just “let go of the project and move on”, while another has approved of our determination to stick with it until we’re happy with the end result.

The cast & crew of "Accused" at the wrap party

Taking all of this advice into account, I have reached these conclusions.  First of all, if there’s any way possible, I recommend learning how to edit your own work.  With the accessibility of laptops and the reasonable costs for software, it is worth learning how to do, even if you prefer hiring someone else for the task.  During the past several months I have learned so much from when we started last summer and every bit of knowledge I have accumulated has taught me how to save time and given me more perspective.  It has also made it easier to communicate with editors, our DP and other crew members involved in this process.  We have learned to review files and examine different shots and angles and we’ve become more confident in deciding what we want the total look and feel of the film to be.

During editing collaboration, creativity and trust all play significant parts, unless you’re doing it yourself, so the clearer you are in expressing what the vision is that you want to see up on the screen, the easier it is to make it happen.  On the other hand, being open and listening to professionals or people whose opinions you value is also important.  For example, in the early stages of editing “Accused”, Chris showed the rough cut to a small, select audience, who served as our focus group.  These new eyes on the material were able to spot a storyline inconsistency, which we were then able to correct.  We realized that because you have seen the film so many times during the editing process, you have to stay vigilant in order to spot missing elements that your mind tends to fill in for you because you are so familiar with the story.  

For these reasons, I am glad that we are allowing ourselves the time to incorporate the creative input we’ve received into the project.  Each change we’ve made has uniquely helped us to improve upon “Accused”.  I disagree with those who recommended that we move on before we were ready to, because even though this is our first production and there are lots of things we will do differently in the future, we still want this movie to be the best we can make it.  Although I now understand the full implications of the phrase “fix it in post” and will firm up many details in pre production next time, each edit we’ve done on this film has added depth and quality, while bringing us closer to the final cut we envisioned.    

If you’re starting out and find yourself in a similar situation, remember it’s your film with your name in the credits and you have to be happy with the finished product.   My mind recalls the old adage “to thine own self be true”.   I think that saying  also applies to any film you’re producing, so give yourself the time you need in order to be true to the story you’re trying to tell.

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2 Responses to Film Short: Notes from a First Time Producer on Editing

  1. Sal Mcnamee says:

    hey,Fantastic blog post dude! i am just Tired of using RSS feeds and do you use twitter?so i can follow you there:D.
    PS:Do you considered putting video to the web site to keep the visitors more enjoyed?I think it works.Yours, Sal Mcnamee

  2. admin says:

    Hi Sal:
    I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Yes, I do use Twitter although I use my name Patty Fantasia on there and not Filmmakers Notebook. So please do follow me and I’ll follow you back. As for putting on video, I have put some on, but don’t use anything from You Tube because of syndication agreements. The videos I have posted have come from events I’ve gone to and filmed at using my flip. Will probably try to do more of that in the future.



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