In the previous part of this blog post, I talked about what can be done during production to make
post-production go easier for amateur or aspiring independent film-makers. In this part I’ll talk more
generally about some of the things that make the editing process the most time consuming and
arguably the most challenging part of film-making, at least psychologically.
The editing stage is a bottleneck in the filmmaking process. Through pre-production, the team grows bigger and bigger, and while in production, Team-up had at least 20 people on set for each day of filming. But when you get to editing, it can be just the editor, the director, and the producer. This is the smallest team working on the project since the concept art stage, right at the beginning. Of course there’s lots of other tasks that need done in post-production, like sound mixing, music
composition, colour grading, and visual effects. But it’s not wise to start any of these until the edit is
complete because changes to the edit may affect these other tasks, they might be working on a shot
that has been shortened, lengthened, or cut out, meaning they’d have to start again. Once the edit is complete, and we have achieved, “picture lock”, then more people can work on the film at the same time once again.
Our current Editor is Jo Osborne, and she has been working with us on the edit for over a year. From a starting point having just a script and a storyboard that we didn’t stick to, with no accurate shot lists, shot logs, and all audio and video data from multiple shoot days and multiple sources unsorted.In spite of my lack of experience in film-making, I did understand going in that post-production takes a surprisingly long time, and it’s easy for film-makers to lose interest in their own project when having to comb over every detail of it to try to assemble a bunch of camera angles into a vision you have in your imagination. It’s easy to obsess over small mistakes, or things that could have been done better with hindsight, and starting with such a raw, imperfect version of the film that slowly improves over time, you don’t really notice that it starts to look good, like a real film. Like when you grow up with someone, and you don’t notice they’ve gone from being childish to mature. Thus, after many iterations, it can be quite hard to watch.
If post-production is allowed to drag on too long, it gets worse. At this point Cassels and I have both
been involved in several other short film projects through the Glasgow Film Crew, some of which
have over-taken Team-up in terms of progress, due to either having a smaller scope, or having a
more experienced crew. The problem is that we’ve all kind of moved on, working on other projects,
planning new projects. Jo, in fact, has moved on to different editing software since we started and
I’m sure it can’t be fun going back to it at this point.
Not All Bad
I don’t mean to suggest that the production was full of problems. In fact, everything was going
brilliantly until we got into post-production. We took a long time getting good locations which gave
us a lot of access for a lot of angles. We rehearsed all the scenes in advance, and developed the
characters with the actors. We took our art design seriously, drawing up sketches of costumes, and
doing lots of eBay research, to get decent looking superhero outfits without spending a lot of
money. We even had an illustrator come up with a storyboard for us, which looked so good it’s a
shame we can’t use it in the film. We got access to a lot of professional looking lights, and lit our
scenes well. We even got great sound by experimenting with different mics and mic positions, which was a particular challenge on a windy rooftop. We had a lot of talented people working really hard to make every aspect of the production stage go smoothly, with redundancy plans for if and when things go wrong. Where things fell down, was not being prepared for post-production, and due to the issues mentioned above, post-production gets exponentially more difficult the longer it goes on.
The Good News
It’s incredibly important to me that this film is completed, honestly I feel like this film, as frivolous as
it may seem to some, is something I define my life by and makes the sort of statement I would like to
leave on the world. My point is, I’m not going to give up, no matter how long it takes, and no matter
how many more people I have to get involved in the project.
There’s lots of ways to make sure you’re kept aware when Team-up is finished.
Myke Hall is a screenwriter, producer, and sound recordist with the filmmaking collective
Glasgow Film Crew. He also co-hosts the crew’s weekly meetup events. Myke’s background includes music performance and promotion, Internet radio and podcast presenting and producing, and music journalism. Myke has professional skills in social media marketing and IT support.