If you are a filmmaker, especially an independent filmmaker who edits your own films, you know getting your film from the end of production to the big screen can be a bit of a challenge. There is a saying that “Post is where films go to die”. This can potentially be the most dangerous part of your film’s life…It can go into post production and never come out.
There are a few reasons this happens. One is that post takes SO LONG and it can be quite challenging finding the time to see it to the end. The second reason, and probably more obvious, is that suddenly you only have one person to worry about…usually you. During pre-production and production there are many talented people being coordinated and a lot of energy, commitment and accountability behind your film. Then….suddenly it is time for post and it is just you and your computer. It can be hard to keep that energy and enthusiasm flying.
Here are a few tips to help you get over that hump and avoid having your film falling into the dreaded “Post void”.
- SET DEADLINES AND INCLUDE YOUR RELEASE DATE
This might seem like a no brainer but just because you think about it does not mean you are actively doing it. A film is far, far, far more likely to be completed if it has a deadline to meet. So if you don’t have one MAKE ONE! Go and look at festivals you would like to submit your film to. When is their next submission deadline? Make that your deadline for your film being completed. It can be tempting to say “my film will be done when it is done”…but that can easily translate to “my film will finally be done in 2030”.
Set goals within your post production schedule so you know if you are staying on track. When is your rough cut going to be done? When is the Picture Lock? When will your composer get the music to you? These are important targets to meet as they help you keep the momentum from production moving forward. Think about all the work that went into planning and organizing your shoot! Speaking of….
- GET YOURSELF A POST AE
What? Now we are making up positions but this can really help you out if you are editing alone. This person doesn’t really need to have a specific skill set except to check in every now and then. This person can be your mom, your AD from the shoot, an actor waiting on demo reel footage, etc. Tell this person all your deadlines and give them permission to check in and help you stay focused. This will make you accountable to another person other than yourself. Here is the fun part, when you meet your deadlines they will be all happy and proud of you…they may even buy you a beer or make you buy them one for helping out! Those warm fuzzies should help you carry on!
- FINISH FOR THE DAY BEFORE EDITING THE BEST PART!
You’re on a roll because you are just about to edit that awesome fight scene that you can’t wait to finish. Okay, stop! It sounds crazy but taking a break right before you polish the part you have been waiting for will make sure you come back! On the flip side of this coin, try not to stop right before that scene you are worried about and don’t know how to edit. Instead do something, even if it is not so good. At least you got it started and have a jumping off point when you get to that scene again.
- FORGET PERFECTION
You are not going to achieve it. At this point in your career you may not have the film equipment, cash, time or the training to get there. On a side note, neither does Spielberg. At some point you need to admit that you will get there on the next film instead and then improve your editing skills on that one. There will come a time in the making of your film when you are beating a dead horse. At that point you will want to re-edit the sound for the 8th time. You may want to adjust the color just to add a hair more blue. When this starts happening check yourself. All you are doing at that point is delaying the release of your film. Take the risk and put it out there. Your film is like a child that must be born into the world. It will not be perfect but it will be loved…by you at least.
- BEWARE THE 6 MONTH MARK
We say six months…this is kind of just an arbitrary number, however it seems pretty accurate. If your film has not been touched in six months it probably got swallowed by the post monster. We know, we know, your film is different. You are just taking a break, right? Your life is crazy; you just celebrated your girlfriend’s graduation, you painted your kitchen, the dog just came back from the neighbours BUT you will come back to it. You and 8 other filmmakers have the same story. Sorry, but this is the hard truth. Don’t let your film sit for a long time untouched. A few things happen when you do this. Your train of thought goes bye-bye and your cast and crew stop caring. All those people that worked so hard and invested so much in the film have now forgotten why they gave their time to it. And honestly, you may have as well. Why else have you not touched it in 6 months? Beware! Go ahead and prove us wrong… and guard against this.
And there you have it. By following these few tips you can help get your movie completed on time and on budget . Now get back to your editing suite, the render break is just about over.