Give your edit a fighting chance – step back and let it breathe!
Aye, very passable, that, very passable bit of risotto.
Nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, Josiah?
You’re right there, Obadiah.
Now that’s the opening few lines to one of my all time favourite sketches but until recently I hadn’t made any connection between The Four Yorkshiremen and the editing process; do you know why that glass of Château de Chasselas wine was so passable?? It’s highly likely that they let it breathe!
Stay with me.
After Time Lapse wrapped, I was very close to editing the whole film myself: I knew the material, I understood (better than anyone) the project, like a certain top secret government agency “I have the technology” to edit the film but after much deliberation… I decided the abdicate and let someone else take on that all-important role – with only 4 weeks away to the premiere, I wanted to share why it’s important for filmmakers to allow their film to breathe before becoming the butcher in the edit suite!
1. You’re not fit enough
If you’re anything like me, you created the concept, wrote your script, spent many months in pre-production and slaved away during the shoot to ensure your success; by the time I’d wrapped I remember being mentally, physically and emotionally spent – how could I have considered jumping into post?! Was I mad? Probably. By the end of production you’re running on empty; ask yourself, would you trust yourself to do a good job? I know it’s tempting but try to resist, find an editor to take it on because you won’t be at your creative best. As an independent filmmaker you may be quite capable at all areas of production and well versed in a plethora of softwares but that’s not the issue. Instead, exercise your right to take a break, step back and let the edit breathe! Even if you end up editing yourself after a break, let the edit breathe because then you’ll…
2. Regained your objectivity
If you don’t breathe, you suffocate; you’ll do the same thing to your film if you don’t step back. You need to separate yourself from your work, “But I’m in the zone man!” you cry – I get that, but that’s the problem, your ego is high on accomplishment and adrenaline and “buzzing your tits off” (that’s a technical term) about all your artsy dutch angles and smokey, silhouette shots won’t give you a certain “edge” in the edit suite.
Gaining objectivity of your film can be tough, especially when you’re in the middle of it – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pick the best shots, that you won’t indulge on a few scenes because they were difficult to shoot and linger for a few extra frames here and there: all of that adds up to a mediocre edit at best, which will get you an underwhelming “meh” from audiences everywhere! Well done, you fucked it up, shit the bed…you blew it.
3. Distance makes the heart grow fonder
Last October, I received an unexpected e-mail from Dave, my editor: he’d edited 3 important scenes together and I’d not seen the footage in weeks. I was starting to feel a little detached from the project…but then I watched the cut…
The Excitement, the euphoria, the creative energy surging through me was electric. I was elated “Thank heavens it works, the film actually works!” In that moment I fell in love with my film all over again. Distancing myself from the film had not only allowed me to become objective, from then on my involvement in the edit was driven by creating “meaning” and crafting the best possible version of the film. Distance certainly made the heart grow fonder.
The film is currently with the sound designer and composer and I couldn’t be more excited. I am genuinely proud and grateful for the film we have and part of that is because I stepped back from it all and trusted other people. Trusting other people with my film was a huge step for me, it wasn’t easy but it taught me so much about myself, my work and about the creative process. So if you’re coming up to the post production stage – take a moment, recharge your batteries and let your edit breathe before you take that next important step!