August 25, 2014
In this series we’re going to discuss the finer points of some things you should try to avoid.
A client comes to you with a project or you’ve decided to start a new project of your own.
General pre-production knee-jerk first thoughts are:
What type of camera should we use?
What kind of lighting package do we need?
The things most people don’t ask themselves:
Who should my editor be?
How much should we pay my editor?
What are my deliverables?
Post production is usually where budgets suffer and impossible delivery deadline requests occur. You move shoot dates around to accommodate weather or talent schedules. Somehow, a little extra money always finds its way to shoot days for this and that. But you know what never changes, no matter what? Delivery Dates.
Post production is also where you make or break your project. We all know the feeling of getting into the edit room and realizing that, though certain story points worked in the script or the storyboards, the client has changed their mind and wants you to take the piece in a completely new direction. Your editor is your best friend, they always are. You can read countless articles about the shaping of a film in editorial. Or just read the script of a film you love and see that it’s rarely what the film turned out to be, even if it’s a shooting script. The Coen Brothers have an unusually strong love/hate relationship with their on again/off again editor Roderick Jaynes as you can read here.
We began our careers as editors in the mid 90s just as systems like AVID and Lightworks started to take hold in the film and TV world. Non-linear editing’s promise was to make everything quicker and easier and it definitely did. NLE’s gave creatives the ability to try more ideas in post in a shorter time. This is fantastic but can also be a crutch and many directors, such as Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg, eschewed digital editing platforms for years in favor of their beloved flatbeds. But, having been in both production and post for a long time, we can tell you that we think DPs should have time in the edit room with their footage. Editors should get out there and shoot something they have to edit. The more everyone understands how they fit into the project as a whole, the better off the production will be. Obviously, this is a generalization as many people wear multiple hats on a project these days. In these cases, having a solid foundation in all areas of the production’s pipeline will help even more. Whether we’re taking a project from concept all the way through delivery, or just through production and handing it off, we take the same approach. We want to wrap production in the same prepared and concise manner, regardless of what the future pipeline is. We don’t want to have a “fix it in post” mindset and make it someone else’s problem or ours later.
Okay, so let’s take this from the top again. A client comes to you with a gig or you decide it’s time to make something of your own. Awesome! Your first question should be:
“What are my deliverables?”
The answer to this question informs the rest of your production. This helps define what you need to get to that end goal properly and will make your budgets more efficient and effective. Try to include your editor in pre-production and production as much as possible. The more inherent the footage is to them the easier it is for you to communicate. We guarantee your editor will make suggestions in pre-pro that will absolutely make your end product better and your execution more streamlined. A modular, targeted approach is your concept to completion strategy. Working from the end point to the beginning will help you put the big picture into place.