Saturday, August 24, 2013

So You Want to Make a Movie - The Wilderness

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker. There is no shortage of books, videos, and online resources to help get you started. No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 20 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 18. The Wilderness

Just when you think it is time to come up for air and a break, you are now going to face one of your most challenging aspects of making a movie (the edit). Post-production often feels like a wilderness experience—a time in which you feel like you are wondering around looking for a way out. At this point, you really don’t have a film. You have hundreds of pieces that somehow must fit together and emerge as a watchable movie.

In reality, a lot of productions never emerge out of the post-production process. They fail for the most obvious reason, a lack of money. I hope you’ve budged your film in a way that will allow you to get to the finish line. If you’ve run out of money at this point, you may be facing a very long uphill battle.

Where do you start? Hopefully, you’ve talked to an editor way back in the pre-production process. It just makes sense to have an editor onboard as early as possible. If you haven’t, my guess is you really don’t have the money to hire a professional film editor or to pay enormously expensive hourly rates at a post-production house. A good editor knows how to edit even if he/she has never tackled a feature film; therefore, look for someone who is looking for an opportunity to move into feature films. A good place to look for an editor is at commercial and industrial video production companies, local television stations, and large churches with media departments. Always get a demo reel.

The one thing you really need to think about when looking for an editor for your film is whether or not he/she has experience in color correction and has the software and filters that will make your movie look like it was shot on film. This is absolutely critical. More than likely, you’ve shot your movie on a digital format, which is nothing more than ones and zeros.

Film is a chemical process; therefore, it is a completely different look than a video. Film has a layer of grain and texture that makes it look a bit dreamy. This is what people expect to see when they watch a movie. If it looks too realistic, it resembles what you would see on your nightly newscast or documentary. Color correction is the process that helps turn video into a film.

The post-production process is very complex and technical. You definitely need to get someone who is not only artistically capable but also technically proficient. There are a thousand and one things that can go wrong, including frame rates that don’t match, incorrect aspect ratios, sync issues between audio and video, and dead sync. You don’t need to understand every aspect of editing. Just find someone who knows his way around the edit bay.

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