With the major problems we encountered during our production, we simply ran out of time to edit the film to a place that I was happy with when it was time to screen it to the audience including a panel made up of Mairi Cameron, QI, Steve C.
This was extremely disappointing as we have put so much effort into it and received criticism for an unfinished film. However they saw past some of the obvious mistakes (untouched audio, incomplete act 1) and gave us good feedback on all the rest.
Contributing to this, our talented editor had a very different vision of what she wanted from the film. The week before, our teachers gave us feedback to cut it all down from 5 minutes to 3. So Our editor decided it had to be experimental. I thought it didn’t work because it misses out a lot of information and emotional beats that the film hinges on. But she was sure characters and story were shown through the second act itself so there was no need for further information. I respect and trust her judgement as a passionate editor so I went with it. It was a bit of a tug-of-war as I tried to push more scenes and shots back into the film. When she was happy with it I thought that maybe it was fine. It wasn’t.
On hindsight the difficulty came from trying to adhere to the first round of feedback from our lecturers asking us to cut it down from an already minimal film, so that’s why we ventured into the abstract. My editor also has a flair for the abstract (every film she’s edited in the past has a strong degree of abstract-ability in it) so at that point I feel it was unavoidable.
This post is in no way a praise report, but a push to get it refined better than ever.
The panel and audience hated it – which I totally understand. I took notes of their feedback so this doesn’t happen again.
Mairi said she was confused with it and lost the story because of the missing beats.The plot points we kept in were not enough to tell the overall story. It looked like my editor and I had two very different ideas in mind and the resulted film is a product of that. An in-between compromise of two wildly different visions attempting to turn a linear film into an experimental one.
QI didn’t like the lack of geography status at the beginning of the film. The relationship between the two characters is not clear enough, we need to put a beat in of their relationship changing.
Steve asked why Brody was massaging Jakim when he hates him. The second act with the drinking scene is too long and questions why there are cards and other props in the rooms. Also with this footage, the story looks a bit ‘rapey’.
Their feedback was very detailed and I appreciate the effort they put in to critique it. Luckily we actually have shot enough coverage that combat and satisfy these comments. I sounded like a broken record answering their questions with the same response “we have that coverage, it was just edited out.”
The last comment however, sunk my heart. Without the emotional beats, Steve was absolutely right, it did look rapey. I’m very sensitive to this topic of abusive behaviour and now I feel sick every time I think about my film through that lens.
SO I will be doing my own edit to give my group a finished product to be proud of. Something that is fun, a little bit silly and easy on the eyes. The narrative is rubbish because I was given 3 days to change it, but with the given circumstances we pulled off a big feat!!
Here is evidence I’m currently working on it…
On reflection, my biggest mistake was not being more assertive and leading it down a different path to serve my overall vision. THE THING IS I like to give all my crew members some form of artistic influence on this film. I do not want to treat them like robots and making them simply bend to my will. I understand the problem of this method when it comes to very large productions, but I thought with three people in our group with some creative input that this could be fine (DOP, Editor and I). I wanted it to be a product of all of us. I believe collaboration and shared knowledge is the best contribution from any group.
In the future I will assess everyone’s ideas of creative input and offer a degree of leeway based on that. I should have reigned my editor in a lot more for the sake of my film.
At the end of the day we had fun on set, we learnt a lot and the end product, I promise, will not be shabby. In the time being – If you are feeling brave, here is the dog food that we had to show them:
I had a quick go of editing it and after only 2 days of editing this is what I came up with. Comment and let me know what you think!
The challenges we faced were many and close in between. So for the circumstances we faced, I’m going to go ahead and say we did ok.
I have learnt:
- Not to change my concept within days of auditioning as I was advised. Next time, if needed, I’ll develop and play with the idea. Completely changing the concept was a mistake because the idea is severely underdeveloped and as I have been calling it
- Find reliable actors earlier in the process (post the ad EVERYWHERE).
- Don’t give people with strong visions so much leeway – back myself and don’t budge unless the ‘look or vision’ is logically justified and/or it is overwhelmingly accepted by the group.
- Make sure the moral of the film is translated across – in this case it wasn’t.
- The moral in this film was Jakim the magician senses that Brody is a little bit gay. Being a little weird and kooky himself, he tries to coax Brody out of this life of denial and defensive walls he has built for himself. He encourages him to embrace himself with all his flaws and quirks. Afterall they should be celebrated not covered up!