How to Recut and Remix your Short Film… a Terrific Example

The power of editing never ceases to amaze me – actors, writers, DPs, designers, all offer incredible contributions to a story, but it’s the editor who takes that heady cocktail of ideas, creativity, drama, misfires, failures, surprises, technical problems etc etc that happened on set / location, and makes it all work as best it can.

This is a process that requires tough choices, reflection and an unwavering dedication to the audience.

 

Reflecting on the 50 Kisses process from a few years ago, and using examples here, I can pretty much say that 98% of the films submitted needed some work – and some films needed a lot of work.

 

Not all the filmmakers engaged with the open process we created, of getting feedback from us, as well as the crowd – and I have to tell you, there was some extraordinarily valuable feedback left on the website by other filmmakers (the crowd) – so some film makers had, in my view, missed a great learning experience by not revising their film.

By example, one film I felt needed work at the time was Beryl by Capital City Films. Below is the film that the filmmakers submitted as a completed, final cut. Give it a watch now, from beginning to end and then read on.

 

 

So what did you think of the film? Take a second to write some bullet points. Stop reading now and come back after you have made your list.

 

Now here’s what we thought and left as public feedback.

  • The beginning is over complicated and could be reduced.
  • The music is too dominating and forces the film into ‘farce’ comedy instead of character comedy.
  • We suggest removing most or all of the music.
  • We suggest cutting the head off the film too, so it begins as the new nurse arrives – that way we don’t know that she is fooling with him – it will work better at the end if we don’t know that she hasn’t really lost her mind, this is old ladies behaving badly.
  • We suggest reducing the kiss and changing / removing the music, again it forces the drama into farce comedy and not human comedy.
  • The strength of the story is two old women behaving naughtily.
  • Give it a go.

Does your list chime in with ours? And here is the re-cut just submitted.

 

 

What do you think? Does it chime in with your notes and observations?

For me at least, this was a huge improvement. It shows great courage that Capital films had that they were willing to engage with the process publicly – and for me, the benefit is that the film is much stronger.

So why did the film makers even submit that first edit?

The terrible truth is that we all loose perspective. That’s why we need feedback AND to take a break from the edit so that we can see it with fresh eyes when we come back to it.

So the real lesson here is to get feedback on your work BEFORE announcing it is completed – and give yourself enough time in editing to get it right.

Remember, your film will only ever be viewed by ‘that-important-person-you-have-been-chasing’ just the ONCE. Make sure that it’s the very best that it can be.

 

And as a side note, Beryl ended up winning the audience award at the premiere.


Onwards and upwards!

 

Chris Jones

Comments: 3
  • #3

    Scott Young (Saturday, 19 May 2018 23:17)

    Thank you Chris.

    Your reply answered one important question with, "... after the initiative closed." So, in theory, it's Create50's intention to try to deliver feedback and comments similar to the example you used -- Beryl -- to all of the submitted films... after the initiative closes? I understand the difference between intention and promise, which is why I worded the question thusly. Now, that raises two other questions for me, if I may...?

    1) What if there's a filmmaker out there who just doesn't have the tools, aptitude, resources or ability to deliver the changes you suggest or request? Example, say the sound is off on a film and you suggest they do some ADR (re-recording) work to clean up the problem spots. What if they don't know how to do ADR work? Or they don't have anyone around them who can assist with ADR work? Or they're just plain broke and can't afford to do ADR work at all? Will Create50's team step in and help, or is their film likely to get booted out?

    2) What if you have a filmmaker who has a clear vision for their film and just plain refuses to make a suggested edit or change, but the film is still within Create50's required time frame? You are bound to have filmmakers who disagree with some of your suggestions and comments. How will that be handled?

    I appreciate your time addressing my questions, as I think their important, and I think it's good that these things are being discussed before the deadlines arrive.

    Oh, and I'm sorry, but I had a good laugh at your comment about my cast and crew being around 20 or 30 people. I wish! Among the Stars was me, one do-all crew person and my two actors. The other credits are people who did pre- or post- work, but weren't actually on-set when we filmed. The largest cast and crew I had during this process was for the one film I'm not even submitting -- First Time -- with 2 cast and 8 on-set crew (including me). So, when I read what you wrote, I couldn't help but chuckle. No offense intended. :)

  • #2

    Chris Jones (Friday, 18 May 2018 11:04)

    Scott, many films are getting lots of feedback. It's up to the filmmakers to drive traffic too, like your cast and crew must be around twenty or thirty? And all of them have families too? Traction ALWAYS begins with friends and family.

    As for the comments yes I left those personally on Beryl in the four week re-editing phase after the initiative closed.

    We plan to do this again, but if you want the jump on this, then go back to the rules and read the guidelines. Almost every film submitted will need better sound and a heavy re-edit to shorten it. Problem shots, poor performances, inappropriate music, all will need work. #Impact50 is now evolving and elevating, and EVERYONE needs to look at their work as ask, if Steven Spielberg were to watch this right now and my entire career was balanced on that viewing, is my film the very best in can be? If not, you are not playing the game at the level other filmmakers will be playing, many of who have not yet submitted a film.

    So yes we may leave editorial comments on some films in that period. Not a promise, an intention as we are doing lots of work here to make the whole project work.

  • #1

    Scott Young (Friday, 18 May 2018 07:15)

    Chris, this is a great article, and using the two versions of Beryl very effectively makes your point. But this process only works when people actually comment on the films. Case in point, our version of Sing, Mommy! sat here on the site for 6-months before receiving its first comment in January. By that time, there were quite a few films on the site, as they had been coming in steadily since March of last year. Can I ask a question? In this post, you say, "Now here's what we thought and left as public feedback." We, who, exactly? You? Create50? Or the collective lot of everyone who made comments? If "we" refers to you and/or Create50, then where is feedback like that on every film on this site, to date? You guys have commented on a few films, commented on other people's comments, but since you're running the show, so to say, shouldn't we, as filmmakers, be receiving this kind of feedback directly from Create50, in addition to our fellow filmmakers... before the deadline date? I'm not trying to be combative... I'm just asking. Thank you.