Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 13

Yesterday I finished out, what will pretty much be the final cut. Sure, as I lay in sound fix and music there will be minor changes, but the movie I watched last night will be basically what I get.

Today, I will continue with sound fix. I’m trying to get least the initial layer (ambience and basic hard sfx) done today. IF time permits I may try to lay in a few music cues as well. I’m going to leave the color alone for now. This weekend one of my good friends is dropping by to try his hand at the color grading. I don’t want to create extra work for us, so I’ll leave it be for now.

After delivering the rough cut, I’ll move right into specific sound design. Normally I’d wait for producer notes, however aside from color correction, sound and music, there really isn’t much major that can change in the cut. The run time is 87 mins, leaving us 3 to 5 mins leeway in trimming (which isn’t much spread out over an entire feature).  The coverage that is used is basically all the coverage that we got. I used every little bit we had (with few exceptions). That’s one of the major sacrifices you make when you shoot a movie in 5 days (coverage). I remember reading a thread in an imdb message board where an Asylum director was defending his work and talking about how on their schedule and budget they sometimes didn’t have time to get close ups or inserts. I remember thinking “bullshit. You just suck..”  But here I sit today, having directed 6 features and I know exactly what he meant now. It’s true. Whether your Ed Wood or Stephen Spielberg, whether you have 10k or 100 million, you never have the time and money to get everything you want. Sometimes (on very low budgets) you can just get the bare minimum, inserts and close ups fall by the wayside. And there are scenes in this movie that I have to play out in a single wide. Because I didn’t have time to further cover them. Is this optimal? No. But it came down to either shooting these scenes in just a single wide with no coverage or not shooting them at all. This is something producers never seem to understand. They always ask where’s the close ups or inserts in such and such scene? We didn’t have time to get them. You have to make the time. How? Magic? We shot the movie in less than a week with less crew and money than we needed; we’re lucky to have what we have. I’ve seen this very conversation play out in the past with several producers and filmmakers and I’ve even had it once or twice.

Of course I’m sure no conversation of the sort will take place on this one.

SO yeah, you never have the time and money blah, blah, blah. What really matters is what you do with what you have. Sometimes, just being able to do anything with it resembling a real budget movie is a feat in and of itself. And sometimes, you can even end up creating something sublime, something that transcends the budget and time limitations. There are moments of both in this movie.

As an editor, I’m always a little down on every feature I edit right before sound design and color correction. Maybe it’s a flaw in my personality.  It’s probably just for the same reason most producers are hard on rough footage. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees on your own project and it’s equally difficult to see what it will be once the proper folly and color are done.

Well, let’s get to that.


  1. Congratulations Jason! Can't wait to see it. Sounds like you've really pulled off a major achievement as I have done my share of five day movies and its like climbing Everest to get it all shot. Well, done.

    Albert Pyun
    Albert Pyun Movies / Facebook

  2. Thanks again Albert, I've been following all your director cut stuff on you site and facebook. I'm really excited to see the Mean Guns one. I always loved that movie.