WHATEVER IT TAKES: Shaking dat money tree

Paper Edit
Paper Edit
Director Chris Wong and Editor Zeb Smith work toward first draft of assembly cut

I used to think that the hardest part of producing a documentary was the shooting and editing. Now I know better. Raising money is far more difficult… Why? Because ultimately, one has absolutely no control over how the funding decisions are made. When directing a shoot, at least you can determine basics about lighting, camera placement, and choice of subject. With enough experience, you can even elicit certain emotions and answers from subjects (if you really want to). But you just can’t force an individual or organization to open up their wallet…

As you might have guessed, my documentary project just got turned down for funding by a very prominent organization. And there was a large amount of money hanging in the balance. I’m convinced that we did everything right – we incorporated feedback, edited a compelling trailer, and wrote an engaging treatment – but in the end, it wasn’t enough. While I understand that rejection is part of the game, I find myself earnestly wishing that I didn’t have to play this particular game.

Funding setbacks aside, I continue to make great progress on the film. Having just finished viewing all of the footage tapes, my editor and I sat down to do a rough paper edit. Using color-coded index cards, we wrote down every important scene and tried to arrange them into something approximating an assembly edit. As you might be able to tell from the above picture, we’ve got a LOT of scenes, and the assembly cut will most likely run about 4-5 hours long. Way too long to show anybody else, but a great way to start forming a narrative structure.

With all these cards littered on the floor, my one great fear is that a gust of wind will magically materialize within our office, and blow away all our hard work… Anyways, check this blog next week to hear an update on how the “real” editing progresses on our Final Cut Pro system.