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

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