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 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…
31st July 2015
The sun was shining outside for the first time that week, and we were struck inside shooting another scene for our new short film ‘Wonderful’. Typical.
We were back at the parents house of our actress, Joanne Gallagher, completing a few scenes we had already filmed previously.
Seven year old, Chance Monahan, joined us for the beginning of the shoot, for a quick scene in the kitchen. He had to don his school uniform, which, being the summer holidays, he found highly amusing. Then after he’d been picked up by his grandma, it was on for the main bulk of the scene with our main star, David Aston, and playing his long suffering daughter, Joanne Gallagher.
For what was relatively an easy scene to shoot, we still took all day doing it. Maybe it was that hour long break for bacon and sausage sandwiches? We had to think of our priorities!
It was also the fact that we were down on crew members. It was a Friday, so people were at work, and Ben our sound guy was somewhere in Germany, so we had extra jobs to do each. Luckily we had Katy D’Arcy with us for some much needed reflector holding!
One little shot that took up much of our time was a scene in the kitchen. We have a brilliant shot from the inside of a cupboard, as David is searching for his much loved biscuits. In true indie film style, we erected a highly unsafe rig of table, chairs and newspapers, for our make-shift cupboard to stand on. Trying to get the correct camera angles proved tricky and time consuming, but ultimately worked a treat! Another scene over… next!
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!
31st May and 7th June 2015
With only one day to rest from the epic fight scene we filmed at The Deep in Hull, we were back on set for a second day of shooting. A very different feel to today’s filming. We were filming in a nice, comfy house, with hot drinks on tap!
As we were looking for the house of an elderly man, the parents of our actress, Jo Gallagher, offered up their humble abode and it was perfect for what we were looking for.
Our lead actor, David Aston, who plays Donald, was made to look older and run down, and even came with his own granddad slippers! Looking the part, he now had to play the part, and play it he did perfectly. A great balance between a sad man, suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and a grumpy old bugger who just wants to be left alone!
Jo Gallagher played the part of his long suffering daughter, Elizabeth, brilliantly. Showing a warming, caring affection for her father, but also the struggle of looking after an old man and feeling under appreciated. Obviously not when she’s sticking two fingers up at the camera. There’s always one. And it’s always Jo!
We also had Chance Monahan, our amazing little seven year old actor, in the scene, playing Donald’s grandson Charlie. As always with children, things take a little longer and you have to have a little more patience on set. Luckily Chance is my (Joe Monahan, the writer and co-director) son so it did make things easier! Plus he loves superheroes so is thrilled to be appearing in a film all about his new favourite superhero, Mr Wonderful!
This was the opening scene to the film so we had to make sure we had everything right. People judge a film from it’s first scene, a short film is judged even sooner – the first shot, possibly even the first frame! Luckily for us, filming went smoothly (except for one particular shot that took about seventeen takes!) and everything looked amazing, but time seemed to fly away from us. Before we knew it, it was time to finish up after an eight hour shoot. We’d only got the living room scene filmed and therefore would have to return for the other scenes set in the house.
It was another great scene ticked off our list and we were all really impressed with the outcome of the day! And that we got to drink tea and coffee and eat lots of biscuits! Perfection!
29th June 2015
The day had arrived for our second trip to one of the highlights of Hull – The Deep – one of the UK’s best aquariums, home to over 3500 fish! Of course we weren’t going there for fun and to go ‘Ooooh’ and ‘Ahhhhh’ at all the spectacular marine life. We were there to complete our scenes for ‘Wonderful’.
Luckily we only had one room to shoot in. It was the area we were unable to complete last time. The Cool Seas area, where our epic battle at the end of the film takes place! The great thing about this room were the lights. Little neon strips of light that change colour, scatter the walls of the room, making it feel like you’re on some kind of spaceship. Perfect for a villains lair!
Our two actors, David Aston and Richie Donaldson, pulled out all of the stops. You can tell that they both relished their roles and loved every second of it – as did we just watching them!
The tricky thing when making a film, is keeping track of everything going on. You have to concentrate on the shot you’re trying to get, make sure all of the lighting is in the correct place and consistent between shots, make sure the actors are aware of their markers and know exactly which part they are filming, and much, much more! The great thing is that we have an amazing crew working with us and we all work really well together in order to make the best film possible!
Even though we only had the one scene to complete, and had everyone working at the top of their game, we were still there until 10pm! Once again, all shattered and hungry, we pushed on to get the shots completed! And bless the staff at The Deep who opened it especially for us that night, and happily waited around for us to finish, helping out as much as they could! Many thanks to all of them, you guys rock!
Another great shoot, another great scene completed. Next!
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!
2014 seems to have passed pretty quickly. Is it simply because we’re getting old? If that’s the case then by the time we’re 60 all we’ll have to do is blink and another year will have gone by! Whatever the reason, there’s no stopping this year coming to a close. And when I think back and realise that the last short film we made was in January it gets me worried. That means it’s almost been a year since we last made anything!
Of course that’s not true. We’ve done some music videos and we’ve all been involved in our own personal and work projects. But I am now itching get a new film made! And, just as it happens, that’s exactly what we’re going to do!
The script for our new venture is written (save a few tweaks here and there) and we’ve already got the beast cast! I’m not going to give away anything about the plot just yet, but in early January we’re going to be shooting some teaser poster images for the film and then (hopefully!) by the end of Jan we’ll be all systems go!
We’ve got some great actors working with us on this project:
We’ve come a long way since our last film in terms of honing our craft and filling our houses up with better equipment. This is going to be a big leap in terms of quality for us and we’re really excited to get started!
Please keep checking with us for updates and keep on supporting indie film!
Written by Joseph Monahan – writer/director at Berry Productions
Download Joe’s comedy sci-fi book, Intergalactic Terrorist.