Post Production Update!

Sorry for the delay on the blog post over the past fortnight. I could regale you with reasons why I haven’t managed to write anything but that would waste perfectly good time when I could be telling you about all sorts of fun stuff that’s been happening with the ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ edit!

We are getting much closer to a picture locked cut. We’ve got to a point where it’s cut to the script (and even cut a little shorter than that), but we’re concerned that the running time is too long (and, yes, you can call seven and a half minutes too long). So I’m waiting on feedback from a few more people and then really looking at what we can take out structurally that won’t hinder the overall story.

I’ve got a sound designer doing a mix on the sound – as we’re not putting anything back in and only taking things out from here on in, I don’t feel like this is a waste of time. I know that it sometimes can be, to send a sound designer an unlocked cut, but when he gets back to you and tells you he’s got two days to work his magic, you don’t say no.

The next step is colour grading, which I’m not one hundred percent sure how we’ll tackle yet and, obviously, getting the cut locked. It’s definitely not too far away at all and it’s been a fantastic learning curve – particularly in how hard comedy is to make! So much depends on timing and every single person in frame acting all the time (you’ll be surprised how often a joke falls flat because one extra in the background isn’t giving the right reaction. Luckily this didn’t happen for us as we couldn’t afford extras, but I have definitely seen it happen). And, of course, the timing of the jokes in the edit can effect it enormously.

In other news, I’ve been asked to read the entries for the London Screenwriters’ Festival’s free script and filmmaking competition: 50 Kisses. Write a two minute script or make a two minute film and you could have your film premiered in a London cinema on Valentine’s Day 2013!

Off to watch the edit again. What to cut?

Post Production – The Long and Winding Road

It seems like it’s been awhile since there’s been an update on the film, but rest assured there is progress. The editing process is taking a little longer than imagined, due to people getting sick, people travelling abroad for work, getting new eyes onto the project…

It’s now four months since we wrapped the shoot. Time did that thing where it sped up without me realising. But the film is in the hands of a new editor and I’m due to see a new cut next week which I am very much looking forward to. It needs a lot of work to really help the jokes shine out of it and ramp the pace up, but I’m positive that between Adam and I that we’ll be able to put something together really nicely.

The other element of post production that is unusual for ‘With A Little Help From Our Friends’ is the fact that we are having to organise and send out some of our crowd funding perks. The first ones went out a few weeks ago – if you contributed $50 or more to the film, you would receive a handmade thank you card from yours truly. I spent a creative and slightly sticky Saturday afternoon creating these:

And judging by the tweets, texts and comments on Facebook I got, they were a massive success. The personal touch was something that people seemed to really love and as no two cards were the same, it was a definite unique stamp that helped to signify their involvement in the film. I’m glad they were so well received as I really do appreciate everyone chipping in to help us out where they could.

I’ll have more news for your guys on the edit in the next fortnight once I’ve caught up with Adam and we’ll see where we’re at!

New Year, Moving Forward.

Welcome to 2012 everyone!

I know I’m a little bit belated with this, but I’ve had a wonderful festive break from blogging and am now back to whipping the film into shape.

Where are we at? I hear you ask.

We are currently at the beginning of post production! I met with Dan, the editor toward the end of November and we walked through the rushes. It was a great meeting and Dan made notes, we all laughed at the amazing acting skills on screen and talked about the general tone and feel of the film. I gave him the most recent copy of the script to put together a rough cut on and we decided that we would go from there.

There have been various delays – the two big ones, obviously, are Christmas and New Years, as well as Dan being packed off to Italy for work and me getting ill just before Christmas – but we both got through it and that resulted in the first rough cut of the film hitting my inbox at the start of last week.

It was both daunting and exciting to watch.

Watching the first cut is terrifying, in essence. Every single problem you talked about around a table in pre-production, made a split second decision about on set in production is suddenly concreted on screen in front of you. You notice every single thing you never did on set – was that cable always in that corner? Why didn’t we move it out of the way? You notice everything that’s wrong continuity wise. You hear every extra noise that wasn’t there before, you see all the shifts in light, the differences in performance. How the rhythm of the cut is wrong, there are pops in the sound and for a split second it looks like the actors break character. You almost watch with your hands over your eyes, because it’s slightly horrifying.

Then you spot a sparkle in the performance. You laugh. You gasp. You grin madly because you can see the potential in the film, the diamond in the rough. The lighting looks amazing in this shot. The sound is crystal clear in this entire scene. God, that shot was so difficult to get but it completely paid off. The look on his face is hilarious. The look on hers is beautiful.

It’s about trimming and shaping and pruning the cut until all of it is full of glee and delight. Or shock and awe, depending on what kind of film you’re making. Just finding the right emotion of the scene, the comedy in the beat, the horror in the darkness. Pin-pointing the best way to get across the message of your film.

That’s where we’re at right now. I’m meeting up with Dan tomorrow to go over the cut and we’ll move this bad boy forward and keep shaping, sculpting and trimming until we find the cut that really zings with the rest of the film.

This is the really exciting part.

Sharing the Love

Two friends of mine and I are trying something new and different. Just for fun.

Jamie has popped up on this blog before (and he also has his own blog). Leilani hasn’t (but she, too, has her own blog).

One thing we all have in common (other than how awesome we are) is that we combine roles on our films.

This is a side effect of low/no budget filmmaking. Because you generally can’t book in a crew of twenty to thirty odd people, roles are combined so that you can still make something great with seven or eight people. Jamie and I write, direct and edit. Leilani writes, directs and acts. This isn’t always a bad thing; however, I don’t like to write, direct AND edit because I feel as though it brings me too close to the project and I often find that other people can see things I miss because I’m locked onto one way of thinking. Jamie sees it differently – but what’s life without a little conflict?

At a scriptchat session many moons ago when the three of us were chipping in our opinions on working with directors as editors and working with editors as writers etc etc, we decided that we would challenge ourselves to fall away from the habits we’d gotten into – writing and directing; writing, directing and editing; in other words, combining our roles. One of us would write, one of us would direct and one of us would edit whatever film it ended up being.

Jamie chose to edit, I chose to direct and Leilani chose to write.

At the moment, Leilani and I are moulding the script into shape. To be honest, it doesn’t need a lot of work. What does need a bit of work is my temptation to stick my nose in to Leilani’s re-writing process way too much. I’m trying to give feedback as a combination of script editor and director (although, I’m of half a mind to keep my director-y-ness out of it entirely for the moment as I feel as though that should come in to play a little later down the line). I’m trying to make it constructive to push it toward where I think the story is strongest without totally smothering Leilani’s voice and vision for the piece herself.

It’s an interesting exercise to test how well I communicate as a director with a writer. I’ve always directed my own scripts, so it’s strange to try to articulate my ideas to someone else to have them go away and work them onto the page instead of simply doing it myself. It’s also a new experience to work with someone I don’t know particularly well but whose vision and talent I trust. I imagine it will be the same working with Jamie in the edit – but I’ll let you know when I get there. I think it’s very useful to have an understanding of what the other departments on a film have to go through because it gives you a wider view of reality. Don’t expect fifteen minutes in make-up to be enough for a zombie western film set in the middle of World War Two. Don’t expect the edit of a twenty minute film to be turned around in a day. Don’t expect a lighting set-up to take three minutes if you’re shooting in a cave using generators to power the lights.

I’d recommend trying it. At this stage anyway. Leilani might totally disagree with me! But I think this will work because we all respect each other as creatives and filmmakers to make it work – which is very definitely at the core of filmmaking and having a cohesive crew environment.

What do you reckon? Do you share your heads of department roles around or do you prefer to do the bulk of the work yourself? I’m interested to know what you think!

Links

Follow Jamie on Twitter
Jamie’s Blog

Follow Leilani on Twitter
Leilani’s Blog