My recent experience directing and producing my first long form doc has taught me a couple of other things about editing- aside from it being difficult- and raised a couple of questions that I still can't quite answer, perhaps some of you can.
And just because I'm trying to be social medially active, I'll blog about it.
1. Time away from the edit is beneficial.
The next time I build an edit schedule, I would like to include time away from the cut after every "deadline". Like 3 weeks between each. It might be a little tricky , with people depending on salaries, funder's timeline, etc- but the film and the people seem to both benefit significantly.
It's ironic that when we approached shooting the film, we never would have dreamed of saying "let's shoot this every day for the next six months straight." But when we envision the edit, we , for some reason, want to just plow through it and are expected to just go straight through- week in, week out (funding dependent) until the thing is done.
While we were shooting, the time between shoots was vital. We viewed footage, made adjustments, and it influenced how we went forward. Just blazing through a 6 month edit of something that took 2 or 3 years to shoot seems counter-intuitive. And had it not been for lack of money we may have done just that. But we had two separate "breaks" because of money- and another happening right now- and the film has benefitted tremendously. C'mon industry, let's make edit "breaks" the standard!
2.How to resist the urge to cut it ya damn self.
I love my editor. She's been fantastic. But man it is hard to sit in that chair behind the edit chair. It's like being at Subway and trying to tell them how to make your sandwich- yes, I said hot peppers but not like that. In the age of Final Cut Pro on your laptop and HD cameras on your phone, and being part of a generation that speaks tech, I wonder if you lose some ability to communicate what it is you want without sitting at the controls, (or behind the camera for that matter). Somewhere along the line, either I didn't learn, or lost the skill to communicate effectively to another person how I would like them to use their tools to make the delicious sandwich I want. Or maybe I'm just a weird control freak. Doubting that, but hey, could be. Either way, I can't be alone. Somebody lend some advice, please?
3. Size matters... and so does length
Finally, I've learned this. No matter how good I might think my footage is, how compelling the story or stories might be, how wonderful that montage set to Philip Glass is, it's probably too long. That has been a frustrating realization. But it's probably true. Even when you think the size is just right, it's probably too freakin' long. Even when you've cut out that thing that killed you to cut out, it's probably too long. Maybe it's a result of a short attention span culture. But no matter. It's probably too long.
Think about it...when's the last time you were in a theater or watching a film on television- a film you thoroughly enjoyed- and after it went off, you thought to yourself: "Man, that was excellent! Unfortunately, it was just too short." Never. You've never said that. Nobody has. Ever. In the history of movies. We've said the opposite. "It was really great. Coulda done without those twenty minutes in the middle, but it was good."
So, there's that.
I'm going to stop writing now. This post is probably too long.