Shooting 140 hours of footage is one thing. Logging, organizing, capturing, and digitizing it is quite another… Even though I’ve already watched all of it once by myself, my editor and I have committed to going through it again together. That way, we can bounce ideas off one another and talk about scenes as they develop. We are now just over halfway done with the review, and it’s obvious that the discussions we are having now will save us a tremendous amount of time and effort later.
On a technical note, we were given very good advice early on to log all the footage with the help of a database program called FileMaker Pro. Ain’t cheap ($400) but it’s really worth its weight in gold. We designed our own customized, searchable database that allows us to keep track of every character, thematic element, shot location, and soundbite that appears in each scene. We also have a rating (1-4 stars, 4 being best) that we assign to each scene – the rating depends on how likely we are to use that particular scene in the final cut. If we wanted to find every scene that included Ed in the school gym with a rating of at least 3 stars, searching with FileMaker Pro gives us exactly what we need.
Though I already have a good grasp on the overall story, main characters, and narrative arc, I still manage to discover something new about our film every week. The past 4-5 tapes we’ve seen really make it clear that one of the film’s central tensions revolves around how Principal Edward Tom should deal with his worst-performing students. Ed’s tendency is to give kids numerous “second-chances” because he knows the kind of harsh family environments that most of his students face. However, Ed’s teaching staff constantly complains that “kids get away with murder” and that students will never behave unless the discipline code is strictly enforced. It’s difficult to say who’s right. As filmmakers, however, this is exactly the kind of conflict we are looking for.
– Christopher Wong