Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Editing your own footage—yay or nay?, part of Filmmaking Forum: Conversations.
- Hi, everyone. In this episode of The Filmmaking Forum Conversations Course, we're going to talk about the notion of editing your own footage, footage you shot. Now some editors are very against this, while others prefer it, and we'll talk about both of these viewpoints. We also talk about the extreme importance of getting that valuable feedback during the editing process regardless of your approach. I hope you enjoy. - I'm a big, big believer yo always have to have an editor, because we need someone to have fresh eyes and to be objective.
So I think for me, it's all about communicating and articulating what I feel, and then being able to have the editor kind of respond to that. - So I do think that the cap that you put on as a director is different than the cap you'll put on as an editor. You're both working on the same movie, you're both working towards the same goals, but you really need someone later on as you're putting the scenes together to say, "I know that's what you wanted to do...
"But how about this idea that you haven't thought about?" And that's like about a billion percent harder if you're editing your own material. - I didn't edit it myself very specifically, because I wanted to have somebody to collaborate with, and I didn't want to get lost in the material, and I needed an outsider's perspective. But I was able to give very informed, detailed type notes because I've done so much editing, and that actually made for a great process of working with my editor. - And, yes, you do have more objectivity from somebody else's stuff.
Like for example, Batkid Begins, a movie I, you know, edited for my friend Dana, my first cut was pretty close to the movie that was eventually released, because I think, you know, I had no sentimental attachment to anything, so I could just boom boom boom, and sometimes Dana would go, "Oh, I liked that thing, you really--" I'm like, "Nope, we don't need it. No." (chuckling) And, um, so that was fairly easy. With something like Dear Zachary, which I shot and also edited, my first cut was longer, and then I showed it to people, and particularly, that was like, you know, the story of my best friend, and my life and everything, so I was like attached to more things, but everyone kept telling me, "Dude, it's 30 minutes too long." So, 25 people tell you you're drunk, you're drunk, so you better go back and fix it.
Um, so I sat down, was just really hard on it, and in two and a half days I chopped off 30 minutes. We got it down to 90 minutes and went, "Oh wow! It's better." And I remember saying to myself before doing that, "If I can do this, if I can cut a quarter out of the thing "I will forever be closest to, "I can edit anything for the rest of my life, "because this is my life, "and anything else that I create, "eh, it's just something I made up." - There's one movie I worked on, where the director and I got so meshed in the way things were and weren't working, that we brought in a second editor not to give notes, but to take all the footage, go into another room, and come up with another way to edit that scene.
And oh my God, it freed both of us up from the old ideas that we had been working on together. So sometimes even editors and directors need another point of view to get you out of your old ideas. So the more you can do that, the better. - It's very easy for me to cut my own stuff because I have no problem throwing away anything I shoot. It's much harder for me to throw away footage that somebody, I've paid them $800 a day to shoot, and I don't like what they shot, that's really hard to get rid of.
- Well, I think that the thing that I like about editing my own material is I know my own weaknesses. And so someone else doesn't have to spend a lot of time figuring those out and then hiding them. I know where they are, (chuckling) and I'm gonna work really hard on hiding them. - The one thing I know is I know when I shoot something if I can use it or not. I literally give myself notes in the camera, like, "This is unusable." Or, "I'm just getting this for audio." So I know when I'm shooting what I can use and what I can't use.
- Okay, fine, you've shot something, maybe you know how much work went into it, blah, blah, blah, but you fall out of love with stuff real fast when an audience is getting bored during a test screening (chuckling). So it's pretty easy to get rid of stuff that, uh, to go like, "I don't care how long I took doing that, everyone's bored. "Get rid of it. It's out." - Lot of times you can sort of feel from the way people are responding while you're watching it with them what's working and what isn't. You have to have some time to step away from it so that, you know, it's fresh. You come back, and you can look at it fresh. If you're just cutting to a deadline, I think that's when it gets really tricky to cut it by yourself.
- Advice for novice filmmakers entering the industry
- Finding, enhancing, and tweaking your story
- Experimenting in filmmaking
- Solving problems and troubleshooting your film
- Changing your approach or finding new angles
- Communicating and collaborating on set and in the edit room—and with clients
- Working on different genres of film
- Teaching and mentoring new filmmakers