Post Production: The Edit
Your script was the best thing ever written. There’s an absolutely amazing cast and crew involved. The locations are incredible and everything went brilliantly whilst shooting. Some of the shots your cinematographer and camera operators filmed are outstanding. This is it! You’ve just wrapped on the film of the decade!
But wait… it’s not over yet. In fact you’re not even half way through. The next stage in the production of this incredible film is one of the most important. Post-production. The edit!
Editing a film is a bit like decorating a cake. You’ve made the mixture, baked the cake, but now you’ve got the mammoth task of making it look really, really good! Fail and you could end up with… well… a complete mess! All that hard work by everyone could be destroyed in an instant. And a bad edit, or an editor who does not get the directors feel of the film, could change the entire tone of the production.
We edit on Adobe Premiere Pro and, to try and speed up our post-production, we began the edit as soon as we’d finished our first days shoot. The first task is like sorting your sock drawer. Going through everything you’ve filmed and finding all that works, all that you want in the final film, and everything that you don’t. We also have to do tedious tasks like syncing audio to the visuals etc.
Finally beginning the actual edit is a very creative process. You have to be able to visualise the final film, from a large number of clips that were shot by the filmmakers on set. As independent filmmakers working on a zero budget, inevitably we end up doing everything ourselves. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing: Myself (Joe) and my co-director Callum plan every shot meticulously. We shoot for the edit, meaning that when we film a scene, we already have in mind exactly what we want the edit to be and therefore know exactly what shots we need to capture. It makes our job as editors that much easier, rather than trawling through hours of footage.
The curse: Because we shoot for the edit, we sometimes find that things don’t always work exactly the way we envisioned them to. If this happens, we have to try and ‘fix’ the scene in the edit suite. Not a great idea as more than often you’re just trying to cover up mistakes. Editing your own footage is also very hard because, inevitably, there will be some shots that are absolutely amazing and you have great memories connected to it, that you have to throw away and not use. Giving up one of your favourite things can be very hard.
Luckily, whilst editing Wonderful, we haven’t stumbled upon too many problems. Because we planned so well in the initial stages, our shoot for the edit technique really worked. Our major setback (that always seems to happen) is that we have overrun on the length of the film. What was intended to be a 20 minutes short, is now just under 30. We’re hoping that our film won’t suffer because of this when it comes to entering it into festivals.
Overall, editing Wonderful has been fun as it’s great seeing the film slowly coming together. We’re really proud of everything that everyone has put into it. As perfectionists of our own work, there will always be little bits to tidy up and tweak. But that could go on forever. At some point you’ve got to step back and say, “Right, that’s the edit locked down. Time to move on to the next step of post-production.
Sound effects, music, colour correcting… colour grading… visual effects… What? You thought that once the edit was done the film was completed?
Promotional posters and artwork for Wonderful.
Mr Wonderful, Donald Wilfull, and Dr Deranged feature in these three official posters!
These Mr Wonderful comic book covers are actually used within the film itself, but also make brilliant posters for the film!
Stills from the film made for great teaser posters…
The original poster we used to sell the idea for the film and get the cast and crew on board!
24th November 2015
Wow… a month has gone by since our last shoot! Where does the time go? Before we know it we’ll all be playing with hoverboards and driving flying cars. Oh… wait…
Today we had a few different small scenes to film, in a couple of different locations. We started off at Wyke College in Hull. Our man, Ben Wade, works at the college and got us access to one of the theatres there. David was back in his Mr Wonderful costume, and Richie Donaldson, who plays our villain, came back to Hull from London for the day to get the scene done.
Using the black curtains as a backdrop and the stage lighting to illuminate the scene, gave the confrontation between our hero and his nemesis a moody, other-worldly feel that worked really well!
Then it was back to mine for some greenscreen scenes. Jase Mayo joined us for a small scene, brilliantly playing a newsreader. Then we had Connor Purdue in our superhero costume playing a young Mr Wonderful. He’d never done anything like this before but did a great job as our young hero, battling against the villainous Dr Deranged!
We finished the night off with Richie recording his ADR for some of his scenes. This was about 11 o’clock at night. Richie screaming at the top of his voice. My neighbours probably thought we were killing someone. Oops!
Our Budding Berries Filmmaking Workshops, run by myself (Joe) and Callum from Berry Productions, created a great film called ‘A Time To Change’, about Climate Change with year 3 children from St. Mary Queen of Martyrs in Hull. It has been screening at various film festivals and competitions around the world, even achieving a best short film award in China, so it has been a great success.
However, the main reason for creating this film was for the Close Up Campaign by the Climate Coalition. ‘A Time To Change’ received high praise as being a “particularly creative and inspiring example of youth voices on climate change.” We were invited to London to take part in the Climate Coalition’s close up on climate change event, led by Oxfam, CAFOD and Into Film, and a trip to Westminster to show our film to members of parliament!
Myself, Mrs Monahan and five of the 8-9 year old children who made the film from St. Mary’s, met at Hull train station at the un-Godly hour of 6am to catch the train to the capital. We were kept entertained by games of chess and cards. What a sophisticated group!
From King’s Cross we headed to the tubes to get to the Waterloo Action Centre, where the event was taking place. It is tricky taking one child around the underground let alone five and in rush hour! Luckily we didn’t lose anyone and the kids love hopping from tube to tube!
At the Close Up Campaign event there were a lot of other children of all age ranges in attendance from all over the country, but we had travelled the furthest! The children took part in a great, fun workshop about climate change and learned some interesting facts about our government and how they are the decision makers when it comes to policies regarding our planet. They then made some brilliant animations with Into Film about global warming and the melting polar icecaps.
After lunch we took in the sights of London as we walked to Westminster Abbey. The children loved the hustle and bustle of the London streets, the graffiti artwork and crossing Westminster Bridge and passing Big Ben.
Westminster is such an amazing building so it didn’t matter that we had to wait to get inside. Everyone was enjoying looking at the gargoyles and statues adorning the building and intrigued by the amount of police, security and x-ray scanners!
Inside the Palace of Westminster we all had a great time exploring the corridors and seeing the amazing architecture, paintings and sculptures. The children felt like they were in Hogwarts!
We then showed the film to the group and it was received with a huge applause – they absolutely loved it! Some of the MPs made an appearance to talk to everyone about climate change and what they hoped to do about it. Unfortunately, our MP couldn’t make it, but her assistant promised us that she would visit the school very soon!
It was time to go home, at least our three hour journey back home anyway! All very tired after what was a brilliant day! We’re over the moon with the success of ‘A Time To Change’ and will keep submitting it to festivals and competitions all over the world, in a hope that the message the incredible kids that made it are saying will be heard by all!
Please watch their film and share it with your friends.
As they say themselves:
“People from all over the world must come together and work as one. This is our only home. Trust us, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.”
24th October 2015
Our last major scene to shoot involved comic books, shop fronts, and a couple of thugs! And it proved a tricky one to prepare for. Originally it was set down a supermarket aisle, but finding a supermarket to let us film in was proving tricky. So we changed the scene to be set down an alleyway next to a comic book shop.
After much searching we discovered a great shop front in Oresome Jewellery next to Martin’s Alley, down Humber Street in Hull and we were set to go! The ladies at Oresome were brilliant, allowing us to use their workshop as our base whilst we filmed out in the cold! We put comic books in the glass windows and named our shop ‘Old Joe’s Comics’ in homage to Old Joe from our last film ‘The Field‘.
Katy D’Arcy played our shop worker, whilst Lee Williams and Callum Smith played two thugs that confront our lead star, David Aston, down the alley.
It was cold and raining off and on throughout the day, so we had to try to keep warm – a challenge for David who was freezing in his thin, lycra Mr Wonderful costume! We did fit in a great lunch at Thieving Harry’s across the street, which warmed us up for a while!
We battled on through the cold and managed to shoot a great scene! With only a few short sections left to film, the main bulk of filming for Wonderful is now complete!
21st August 2015
One of the main problems with making a fully self-funded, independent film, is that it can take a long time to get a film made. With all of our crew and actors generously giving up their time for free, we have to work around when they are all available. And we have our own day jobs to do as well. It had been nearly a month since our last shoot for ‘Wonderful’, and it felt like forever.
It was time for the car scene, which was a challenge for many different reasons. As we’ve been editing the film as we go along, we have discovered that we are running very close to our 25 minute time limit. This meant that we would have to reduce the running time for the last few scenes, without taking too much away from the story. The car scene is one of the most important scenes in the film as it builds the characters of Donald (David Aston) and Elizabeth (Joanne Gallagher) and ultimately leads Donald towards the final showdown.
After several re-writes for the scene, I finally got it down to something I was happy with. We were good to go. Now all we had to do was make the scene visually interesting – something that is hard to do in the confines of a car, so hopefully we managed to do a good job, armed with our new camera – the Panasonic Lumix GH4!
David and Joanne (her last day on set) did a brilliant job in this scene. It is a highly emotional scene and they both had to well up and bring out the tears. At least they got to sit down in the car all day, along with Ben Wade on sound, whilst me (Joe Monahan) and Callum Smith were running around the car like lunatics. Filmmaking lunatics!
We ended the day with a little poster photoshoot with David, recreating the classic Superman pose and looking extremely heroic whilst doing it! Now it’s time to perpare for the next shoot…
17th July 2015
Two little shoots today for our new film ‘Wonderful’. We filmed it at my (Joe Monahan) parents house – so thank you to them – and is the only scene in the film not to star our main actor, David Aston!
Shooting on a weekday has its plus points and its drawbacks. On the plus side, there’s less interference as most people are at work, so we were able to shoot our scenes with no interruptions. The drawback? Getting together our crew and extras is difficult because of the same reason – they are all at work! So we were unable to get all of the extras we needed, which was a shame, but we found a way to get around it and got the scene we needed anyway!
Richie Donaldson was back for the first part of today’s shoot, just before his big move from Hull to London. With only one little scene left for him to film still, we’re going to have to coax him back for a day with promises of lollipops. We also had one of our favourites, Kev Thompson, back with us. Kev has starred in a number of our films and it is always great to work with him!
A small, simple shoot completed. Small and simple maybe… but the scene is a vital moment in our film!
29th May 2015
After months of planning; script writing, casting, shot listing, storyboarding, location scouting and costume design and creation to name but a few, we were on set of our first scene for our new short film ‘Wonderful’. And what a scene it was.
We were filming what was possibly the hardest scene in the film to shoot! Typical!
Our scene takes place in our villains evil lair. For this location, we approached The Deep in Hull, which is one of the UK’s largest aquariums, home to sharks, penguins, jellyfish and more!
They were absolutely brilliant and more than happy to help us out. We had access to three different areas in The Deep after closing hours, and the staff were so helpful, we cannot thank them enough!
With our brilliant costume maker, Elli, on set, along with our great make-up artist, Andy, and our amazing crew (including Carl, Ben and Neil), we were all set to go.
Our first scene took place in front of the giant shark tanks. So not only did our actors (David Aston and Richie Donaldson) have to perform for us, we needed the sharks to do well too!
As they seemed to swim in constant circles around the tank we had to time the action to start just as our finned friends passed the front of the tank. With a three camera set up, we made sure we captured the action piece from every angle. Everything went smoothly… success!
We then filmed in the Cool Seas area, which is a dark room that has some great neon lighting and an amazing jelly fish tank! A true villains lair!
Time was against us as we only had a limited time in the room so we didn’t manage to get it all completed. Stress levels rising! It was getting late in the evening too…
Onwards to the final area to film – a really impressive tunnel of colour changing lights! A great moment for our hero, David, to stride through the tunnel, as we slid backwards on our dolly.
We were able to finish everything in this area, much to our relief. By now it was about 9pm and everyone was starting to droop! It was time to call it a night.
We got some brilliant footage and was a great start to our film. Yes, we would have to return (if The Deep would have us!) but it was better to get it all right, rather than rush.
Time for us, and the sharks, to get some rest!
For the last eleven years we, at Berry Productions, have been making films of various subjects, lengths and success. Starting out with short, slapstick, silent comedies starring just ourselves, to our most recent film ‘Wonderful’, which has professional actors, lighting, sound, costume, make-up and all the fancy bells and whistles that come it.
Although our films and our skills have progressed, some things always remain the same. I like to think of it as my own Filmmaking Laws. Like the laws of physics, they cannot be changed. Some things are just meant to be.
So here they are. My Filmmaking Laws (as they currently stand – for new laws are added all of the time!)
If it can go wrong, it will go wrong!
Prepare for the worst… but hope for the best! No matter how much planning you do beforehand, no matter how many people with the highest possible skills you have on-board, it is inevitable that something will go wrong. These are things that are usually beyond your control.
Someone is sick so can’t make it. A vital piece of equipment will suddenly stop working. That location that you had until midnight, is suddenly closing at eight. It pisses it down with rain.
You cannot change any of these things. If they happen, they happen. You need to find a way to work around it and do the best you can. Problems occur. It’s how you deal with them that make you a genius!
There’s no I in Team.
It’s a group effort.
Everyone has great ideas to bring to the table. Be it the sound person having ideas for interesting shots, or an actor expressing thoughts about how their character should move or react. You might not agree with them, and it might not work for what you want in the film, but you still have to take their ideas into consideration, be happy that they had the idea, and let them know nicely why it wouldn’t work. On the other hand their idea might blow your mind and you snap it up in an instant.
And remember that no one on set is better than anyone else. This should be the same in all lines of work. Equality and respect. Peace and love guys. Peace and love.
That Damned First Shot!
One thing we’ve noticed on every film set – the first shot of the day takes the longest to set up! Of course it does. Your actors are warming up, you’re trying to get the right camera angles and light the location. Be prepared for this. It eats up time that you may not have, but you can’t rush it. Once you have that perfect first shot, the rest start to come a little easier. But not too easy… that would be far too… well… easy!
Food + Drink = Happiness.
Film shoots are long and can often be quite boring as there can be a lot of waiting around. There’s nothing that can be done to speed up those long days, but there are ways to make them a bit more bearable. Food and drink are perfect distractions!
Tea, coffee, biscuits, crisps, fizzy pop… anything that isn’t really that good for you will be your best friends on a film set. Breaks are needed, people need to refuel, everyone works better on a full stomach. Don’t forget dinner and lunches as well. Even if it’s just a few sandwiches, people will appreciate it and therefore go the extra mile to help you out.
People are very interested in what you’re doing.
I’m not talking friends. Usually friends couldn’t give two blue monkeys that you’re making another film and shouting about it on Facebook. It’s strangers who will be intrigued.
Most people never come across a film being made, so be ready to answer people’s curiosities when they stumble upon you in the middle of the woods with a group of actors wearing robot costumes.
Your edit will always go over your desired film time.
Making a ten minute short? Your first edit will be a twenty minute masterpiece. We always go by the general rule of one page of script = one minute of film. However, when you start adding action into the scenes, this always changes.
The big question is, do you allow your film to be as long as it tells you it is, or do you tell it how long it has to be. It is very tricky to cut things out of your film, sacrificing that brilliant shot, or that section of oscar-worthy dialogue. But sometimes it is necessary. Look back at your scenes. Anything that isn’t 100% vital to the story you are telling? Maybe it’s time to get rid.
We had this problem when we allowed our 25 minute horror film ‘The Field’ run over to 45 mins. As great as it turned out, we had trouble with many film festivals as it was too long for their scheduling.
You’ve made your film. It is the best thing you have ever seen. Your mum loves it. Yet no bugger is accepting it in any festivals. “Why?” you scream at the heavens, “whyyyy?!?”
Unless you have made something so brilliant that people cannot possible turn it away, or you have jedi mind control, your film will get rejected by someone. It might be that the film doesn’t fit into the festivals criteria that year, or that there is a lot of competition. Or it might just be shit.
No matter what the reason, try not to let it get to you. Shrug it off and move on. Try the next festival and the one after that. If no one wants it, go and make another film and make it even better than the last. Just don’t let it put you off altogether. At least your mum loves it.
Someone will make the ‘porno’ joke.
“What is it you do?”
“Oh I make films.”
Cue predictable blue movie joke. Grin, maybe even chuckle, move on.
I have an auntie who makes the joke every single time she sees me. Admittedly, she’s a bit weird, but she isn’t the only person to ever say that to me. These days I just respond with, “Yes… and I’m looking for actors. Fancy it?”
Needless to say, my auntie probably finds me a bit weird too…
So there you are, just some of my filmmaking laws! Of course there are many more. Any you can think of, pop them in the comments and they too could become part of my law!
Written by Joseph Monahan – writer/director at Berry Productions
Download Joe’s comedy sci-fi book, Intergalactic Terrorist.
When I ask people to name a few of the greatest actors – and I mean those that have such a grand presence on screen that everyone watching them stops whatever they’re doing and pays attention – most of the time that list is comprised of men. Checking out top actors and actresses lists online too, again the top thespians are usually male. Names such as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Paul Newman etc are always in the top ten and, probably deserve to be.
Personally, three names always come to my mind when this question is asked. Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Morgan Freeman.
Be it their age, I’m not sure, but they always own the screen in whatever scenes they are in and completely steel the show. They seem to radiate authority, respect and general brilliance. There are many, many other great actors that are almost at that level for me – but fall just short of that extra something. I do believe it is an age thing. When other actors that I think are brilliant, such as Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and Christian Bale, reach the age of McKellen, Stewart and Freeman, perhaps they will also be as grand on screen.
So there are many male actors who have that special something on screen, and many that are almost there. So my question is… where are all the women? Generally, the actresses that are still alive and working today, that regularly appear in the top lists are the likes of Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Judi Dench. Once again, they are older, wiser and prove time after time that they know their craft. They are undoubtedly amazing actresses, but still, for me anyway, they just don’t reach that next level in everything I see them in – some films yes, but not everything.
Is this just because I’m a man and I feel more of a connection with males? True, when I’ve asked this question to males they always give a list full of men. When asked to females the list varies between the sexes a little more. I don’t think this is a sexist thing. I, and all the guys I’ve asked, can all give examples of great actresses and amazing roles that they have played, but rarely are they in our top ten. Maybe it is that men don’t connect as well with leading ladies, or perhaps, and I think more likely, it’s that actresses aren’t given the opportunities to shine as much as the men.
I’m putting the question forward – who are the greatest onscreen actors in your opinion? And please don’t just pick your favourite because some of my favourite actors are not BRILLIANT – just very good. I’m talking about the screen stealers, those that you believe every word they say, every move they make, those who’s every breath has been carefully planned.
So… who are the greatest actors and… where are all the AMAZING actresses? And why aren’t these actresses usually in a man’s top list? Let me know in the comments below! Let’s have the discussion!
Written by Joseph Monahan – writer/director at Berry Productions
Download Joe’s comedy sci-fi book, Intergalactic Terrorist.