It’s Dailies, Not Weeklies

Posted on June 24, 2008

he took her to a movie

In a perfect film set world (real world), you shoot for the day, send the film to the lab that night to be processed, return the next day, shoot some more, and then during lunch (or beginning/end of the day), you watch what you shot the previous day. These are called dailies, because you do it everyday.

If you didn’t catch my tone, there’s an element of the Film School’s system that bothers me. There are many reasons to watch your footage everyday – to make sure it looks like you want, the film was processed successfully, equipment isn’t ruining shots, you’re getting all the coverage. It’s common sense to check what you’re shooting instead of being in the dark, especially when millions of dollars are riding on it. The idea is that if some thing’s wrong, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to re-shoot it when you’re on location with an entire crew instead of bringing everyone back.

However, at the Film School, things are a little different. First off, dailies aren’t possible, and I understand that. The film has to be shipped off to Miami and it’s usually sent in batches at the end of a show (instead of the end of each day), so there’s no way to check what you’ve shot until long after you’ve wrapped. About a week later, once the film has returned and the Assistant Editor has synced picture and sound, everyone that worked on that movie goes to the Film School theater and watches the ‘dailies’ – about an hour of raw, unedited footage.

Having everyone watch dailies isn’t normal practice, but from a a learning perspective, it’s useful to connect how the set was lit to how that comes out on film. It’s also handy to see how the editor assembles the footage.

So I’m understanding that we can’t see what we shot each day. What I don’t understand is why such extreme measures are taken to ensure we don’t see the footage before the official ‘dailies’ screening.

We’ve always been warned about not watching footage before the dailies screening (though never given a reason), but when it’s your film or you shot it, there’s a great personal investment involved and a lot of anxiety, wondering if those elaborate shots worked or if the film even exposed (of course it did).

The footage from the thesis I was cinematographer on returned. I went to the post-hallway to pull it up, but to my un-enjoyment the folder was locked. In fact, all the folders from the films that just returned were locked. This was never done before. I would very much like to know if the 91 set-ups look good, and that I didn’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

The official dailies screening is this Friday, about two weeks after we shot it. Like the title says, it’s dailies, not weeklies. Kind of ridiculous, right?

Photo by entro_py

Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His past films have appeared on Netflix, The New York Times, and National Geographic. He is also a YouTube creator across multiple channels with videos garnering millions of views. In his free time, he likes to climb mountains, scuba dive, and brew unique coffees.

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