Editing a feature, and updates

I recently started piecing together my film Stuck. I took a week off, but not before I tried to wrap my head around the first scene, and had a minor nervous breakdown doing so.

The reason I decided to go ahead with the project in the first place was because of Julie’s and my short film 5AM. We had a lot of fun with it. The Stuck script was simple enough, particularly in cast size and locations. While I realize that a feature film is a much different creature than a short, I honestly thought it would be a reasonably similar experience.

The first thing I realized was, I hated looking at my face on screen.

That’s a big fucking problem if you’re the main actor. In fact, the word ‘big’ simply isn’t a good enough word.

So, I took a week off.

Now, if I’m being completely honest, it was not my face that was giving me all the trouble.

I wonder if other people have this thought coursing through their head when they take on something as enormous as a feature film. I had a constant thought that was dominating my decision making process, which made me question every single thing I attempted to piece together.

If this sucks, it’ll be the last time you’ll ever be able to do something like this.

That’s a pretty fucked up thought to have. The amount of pressure that subsequently fell on my shoulders was too much to take, and I started having some pretty terrible ideas run through my head.

“I wonder if people will believe me if I tell them that a magnet just happened to fall in the exact right spot, and wipe all of the footage from both hard drives.”

“They might, but I think they’re going to ask you where you got the magnet.”

“Hmmmm.”

A fleeting thought, followed by a nice swift smack to my own face, but still. The mind will suggest some wildly interesting ideas in times of crisis to relieve strain.

About a week later, give or take, I tackled the first scene.

Now, when you’re making a film, you’ve got a finite window of opportunity to shoot pick-ups. People change their hair, they lose or gain weight, they move. Your locations might not be available. Etc.

I pieced together the first scene and said “We missed stuff.”

Not a good sign, particularly when it was one of the last things we shot. But, the mistake was mine and mine alone, and I kept moving forward.

Probably the biggest problem as I began to piece the film together was the fact that I could not divorce myself from the idea of the finished product, which is a MUCH more polished version of your first cut. So much so, in fact, that they are incomparable.

The thing is, the projects I’ve worked on in the past, I’ve always cleaned up while editing, so, at the very least I was seeing what direction the finished project would look like.

You can’t do that with a feature. Sound design and music are going to make so much of what you shot/recorded feel different. Color correcting even more so. So, I’d piece together a scene and tried to say ‘hey, this is going to look and sound 100% better, don’t sweat it. We shot in LOG… it’s not going to be that dark, that grey. Calm down. Take a, yeah, take a xanax. Not with bourbon. Ok, with bourbon, just calm down. Get through another scene and we’ll… no, it’s not a good idea to eat that whole bar of chocolate. Ok, eat it if it’s gonna make you feel better.’

The bargaining phase is just the best.

I brought over Lynn and Julie to take a look at what I’d pieced together thus far. About 10 minutes or so, which is miraculous to me, even now. They loved it, which makes me doubt their sanity.

Lynn even went so far as to call me ‘very charming.’ I did a quick invoice, only to find that she did not owe me any favors or money, so I was genuinely confused, but thanked her.

The process is getting easier, which I’m thankful for. I cannot wait until it’s pieced together, to get an outsiders thoughts on the film. Being this close to a project is just ABSURD.

But, after reading about how others tackle editing features, it’s just a scene at a time.

We’ve got Monday and Tuesday as our pick-up shoot dates. I’m quite confident we’ll get everything else we’ll need.

Now, onto some other news. Untitled Zombie Project is on the shortlist to make it into its first festival, which is awesome. And 5AM is showing at three screenings via the Hollyshorts Monthly Screening Series. Karen and I are trying to make it out to the L.A. screening. Fingers crossed!

That’s about it for right now. We’ll see how it all goes. Thanks for reading.

John

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One response to “Editing a feature, and updates

  1. Every major project has a similar feel – you only get one shot – but the truth is you can keep making films (and writing books, and developing cat romancers…er…as long as you’d like. Enjoy the process!

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