Below are two things I discovered during the editing process that I will definitely keep in mind in the future.
- Know what your documentary is about before you start filming. This may seem obvious, but I mean you really need to know what you want to achieve. This goes back to research and planning.
When I started Cubicles, I knew I wanted to make a documentary on cubicles but I didn’t have any defined goals when I started filming. I asked a broad range of questions during the interviews to cover my bases and I figured I’d find the movie in editing. I did, and it ended up being about cubicles and productivity, but had I known this before I started I would have been able to explore it much more deeply during the interviews. Of course after you start filming you might find the core of your film changes, but I think the more defined your goals are from the start the better off you’ll be.
- The line between production and post-production is a blur. Or at least it should be. I wasn’t happy with the way the Film School documentary process is setup. We spent a few months shooting our documentary, went into a two week editing cycle, and then that was it – the picture is locked. After talking to the people in my editing cycle, I think everyone would have liked to go back and ask some follow-up questions. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time (and the school took our equipment away).
Normally with documentaries you’d shoot some interviews, start cutting the footage and discover the direction your film is taking, and then go back and shoot some more. You might ask follow up questions to add support to your theme, explore a new direction, improve the quality of the film, or find another reason entirely. We didn’t have such a luxury, and I think all the films would benefit if we had a week to edit, a week to go back and shoot some more footage, and then another week to edit.