The rough cut is finished. It took approximately four hours of sustained work to edit. Running time is currently around 11:30 minus credits. I'll trim the rough cut as much as possible tomorrow and over the next few days. The goal is to have it come in around 11 minutes with credits. No particular sections seem too long now, but I think some aggressive cutting will tighten the structure and benefit the overall rhythm.

I have to decide whether I'll dub in every diegetic sound or only key sounds. If I do every sound, it'll be at least a week of intensive work before I can finish this project. If I only do key sounds, I'm looking at a couple days. If I can pull off only adding certain sounds and it doesn't seem unusual or bizarre, I'll probably go in that direction. Otherwise, I'll add as many sounds as I can.


Footage back.

I picked up the film from Wal-Mart about 30 minutes ago. $31 including tax for 6 reels of processing is pretty cheap, all things considered. Shipping both ways (if you used a normal lab) would cost at least $15-20 by itself, not including lab fees. Wal-Mart's processing via Dwayne's is roughly half the cost of anywhere else (which is good, since Dwayne's is the only lab serving the US that offers K40 processing).

I'm struggling with the urge to load some of the footage in my Elmo projector and see how it turned out, but I have to hold off until I'm ready to transfer to miniDV, since each projection introduces dust, hairs, and scratches on the emulsion. I did sneak a peek at the first few frames of one of the reels and it looks fantastic - sharp, saturated colors and good lighting. The only scene I'm really worried about is the forest sequence near the beginning - there were some areas that were very bright and others that were comparatively very dark. Also, the shots were framed wider than I would have preferred. I hope the character's face is visible, since it's critical for that scene. I should transfer the film tomorrow, and start editing by Saturday at the latest.

The Return

My film will be back either today or tomorrow. It's fairly exciting, since my entire project (barring a few pickup shots) is contained in embryonic form inside those six small boxes. I'm trying to pay more attention to the circumstances of editing for this film. By this I mean the physical and mental conditions, and how they will affect the finished product. My singular goal in making 'Survival Record' was to achieve an extremely ascetic, spare form. Very little music will be used and the shots were kept clean and straightforward, to avoid obscuring the main ideas in the script. I want the editing to reflect this, and emphasize the crispness which most well-edited films have.

I'm thinking about transferring the footage, then just sitting on it for a day or two before starting the editing process. Once I start editing, I'll likely stay up for as long as it takes to do the rough cut. Normally I import the footage, in a rush, after transferring, then start hacking away as soon as possible. I'm usually interrupted at some point, so I can't finish in the original session. I hope to clear my mind by waiting, and remove any anxiety or preconceived ideas about the editing, so I can approach it cleanly.

The other technique I'll try is punching in all my edits with in/outs in FCP. Normally I use the razor tool or drag to change the cut points. I hope punching it in will make the editing sharper and more rhythmic, without the 'floaty' or 'loose' feel I sometimes detect in my earlier work. Film has more tension in movement anyway, so this problem will be lessened, but I want the editing to be as tight as possible.

After the rough cut is finished, I'll spend about a week doing Foley. Not sure if I'll dub in every diegetic sound, but the important ones will be there. I've actually been using the inside of a van as the recording studio. It's extremely quiet and the small size precludes a lot of reverb.

This post is called 'The Return' because upon the return of my film, I'll return to my project, this time in post-production. I also recommend checking out an incredible Russian film called 'The Return' (Vozvrashcheniye). The director carefully creates a world where anything unnecessary is removed. The characters and settings are isolated so their connection stands out like a tree on an eroded mountain. Reportedly produced for under $500,000, the cinematography and score are also amazing. Highly recommended.


New ideas

I should have the film back in a little over a week. In the meantime, I've been playing around with ideas for a new project. This will be much closer to hard SF than 'Survival Record'. No details for now, but it's a good concept that I think would make an excellent long short (12-15 minutes).



Production wrapped today at about 6:40 PM (it stays light until after 8.) The location for the final scene had to be rescheduled I went scouting again this morning, since the original area had been mowed and was no longer acceptable. Despite this mishap, production proceeded very smoothly and all 6 carts are ready to be dropped off for processing. More in 10 or 11 days when I have the film back.


Production begins

Day 1 shooting is complete. Everything went as well as could be expected - all shots were completed roughly on schedule. I hope the footage turns out OK. About 100' of film were used, spread over 3 carts. Tomorrow's shooting should take about 150'. That means we're operating on an assumed shooting ratio of about 2:1 - better than I had expected, which means my recent film order of 8 more carts will probably not be needed for this project. Better to have more than you think you'll need, though. I'm also playing around with concepts for my next project, which will be an exploitation horror flick shot either partially on miniDV or all on S8. More later.


Production finalized

Production is now confirmed for Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19. Shooting on Monday will be from 1 PM to 4 PM, and on Tuesday from 4 PM to 7 PM. This is to synchronize the approximate position of the sun in the sky with the predicted position for the character in the story.


Belated update

It's been a while since I updated this site. Production is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, July 18. Two shooting days are planned. I've been working on props, costumes, and effects. The script has been extensively revised, and the practical effects are shaping up well. The film will be shot entirely in color on Kodachrome 40, with sections possibly converted to B&W in post. Locations have been scouted. More later.