Options Post-Production Progress
FYI this post my be a little lengthy. (been gone for a while)
So this week, I’ve thrown myself headfirst into editing the feature film we shot last winter. I realized (intentionally or not) after shooting that I needed some distance from the project. Like reconnecting with an old partner, I needed my space.
Luckily the opportunity came in the form of a couple projects that I was lucky enough to work on. One, is a documentary by director Marcos Barbery about the Cherokee Freedmen of Oklahoma, the other is a pitch video for a potential Demolition Derby reality series, directed by James Payne.
But all that has settled down now and I feel refreshed enough to jump back in. So on Monday, I created a new project titled “Options Rough Cut Assembly”, imported all the footage folders and proceeded to start cutting. It started fairly easy. No real hiccups and by the time I called it quits that night I ended up with 7 minutes of rough assembly.
Now a brief side note on how I’m approaching this edit. I’m not privy to other editors methods or what is the de facto approach to a 1st cut, this approach is only how I plan to go about it, given our shooting circumstances and the semi-(okay almost entirely)improvised acting by our lead actors.
My plan here is to simply assemble almost everything we’ve shot and/or developed throughout the shooting process. This film has several semi-scripted montages and beats, while the majority of the acting was heavily improvised and fine-tuned as we went from take to take. Once I’ve completed a rough cut, warts and all, then the Producers and myself (and maybe a couple innocent bystanders) will watch it and rip it apart. Who knows, after that initial first look we may never show it again.
Back to editing. Feeling good about the 7 minutes so far, I picked right back up on Tuesday night. (I edit nights because, like every filmmaker doing this entirely on their own, I have a full-time job. making videos for a dental professional.) Tuesday’s edit proved to be a different beast entirely. Tuesday was the first big editing hurdle I was confronted with. And it certainly isn’t going to be the last. Here’s why.
On Tuesday, I got to SC901. SC901, as it was defined during shooting, is the first scene in which our two lead characters, Evan and Anna first met. And it was a scene that evolved each and every day we shot. In fact, it was a scene that we shot 3 different times over the course of 5 months. Simply because I felt I hadn’t nailed what I wanted to see. Here’s a behind the scenes shot from one of those earlier attempts. After getting home and watching the footage it felt good, but it didn’t feel right.
Now, this is a big concern for anyone who is trying to convince other professionals to go along with their crazy ideas and if you are ever so inclined to convince 10-20 people that what you want to realize (whether as a film, a piece of music or whatever) you better make sure you leave knowing you got exactly what you want, because if you don’t and it sucks, then in the words of the great sage Robert Plant, it’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine.
Since we shot SC901 3 separate times, over the course of several months, I have now found myself with a multitude of takes and different iterations of the same basic premise: Boy meets Girl, Boy and Girl start a relationship, Boy and Girl fall in blah blah blah. But each time I wanted the scene to throw away the cliched (or at least in my mind) approach to young 20 somethings meeting and falling in love or whatever. So we kept going back to it and reworking it until we got it. Which we did on the 3rd try. And here’s a shot of all the takes from that third attempt, one after the other.
As you can see, there are a lot of takes. 12 clips in all. Almost all of them, wildly different in content. But not too different. There’s enough to cut a cohesive, dramatic interaction between the actors that makes sense to the plot. It’s just gonna be a joy to dig through and find that cohesive interaction. Which I think will be one of the fun explorations of editing a mostly improvised film. Finding those dramatic beats, the scenes that propel the narrative, in a plethora of footage and different iterations.
My goal was for the acting in the film, and by extension the narrative, to feel natural and loose, not scripted and forced and that is certainly how we shot the dramatic scenes. Hopefully this will shine through when the film is completed. I look forward to many more of these scenes (because there’s a lot of them!!!) as I push through the edit.
I’ll keep you posted.
I haven’t been posting in a while, here’s why. I’ve been helping a 2-man crew, lead by Marcos Barbery (www.threadnews.org) as an additional shooter on a documentary on the historic issue of Cherokee freedmen. I hope to get back to posting about Options soon. Meanwhile, Check out thread and also Marcos’s other project www.razistan.tumblr.com.
Little Behind the Scenes shot.
Clay Flores on Camera.
Chelsea Davey, Allison Elmore and Chris Long observing.
A scene with two brothers, John Langdon and Lewis Staples.