Super 16, a Beautiful Dream, a First-Time Director, and a Low Take Count

By in Timeline Tuesday, Video Editing

A first time director comes into a project with high hopes and dreams and the guts to do something most people will never take a swing at. With that inevitably comes a learning curve of the shoot, the edit, and the marketing of their first film!

I’ve found that first timers have a harder time collaborating in editing, and it takes them awhile to learn the process and let the editor hold the reins a bit more. That being said Arthur Ian was a fantastic first time director, and was gracious enough to allow me to be a true collaborator on his film “Crossing”.

I met Arthur Ian through a colleague Debra Trevino, associate producer from a previous film, who just so happened to be at AFM at the same time Arthur was searching for a Producer and Editor to help take his film to the finish line. They met and Debra connected us (thanks Debra). Arthur and I hit it off immediately and when I saw the footage I fell in love and knew I had to do it!

It was an absolute pleasure being able to edit a FILM, a real FILM shot on Super 16! With material stretching across the globe from a Soviet Union past tense shot in Armenia to a present tense in the 2008 market crash in America shot in Los Angeles!

With an indie film like Crossing, you often have limited funds and production days, and sometimes you are left with a few more puzzles to solve in editing. Avid’s ability to do it all “in the box” saved me an enormous amount of time and kept me focused on telling the story.

With limited funding and shooting actual film, the take count was low! But shots well planned. I had to do a number of split frames in Avid to be able to get the BEST performance from both sides of the frame by combining multiple takes from the same angle in some cases. Since Crossing was mostly shot on tripod / dolly setups I was able to do this with ease using a combo of correlation motion tracking, 3d warp, and animatte.

I am always looking to the biggest Editors that take time to share tips and techniques, and one tip that I’ve picked up is using a favorite FX bin with practical reusable FX. Such as push ins/ reframes, canted angles/rotations, darken / blur vignettes, time warps, EQs, and more.

When I setup my projects I set up in my scene bins, all sync clips and 2 sequences. One for a full string out (KEM roll style), and one for selects.

Reel 1 of 'Crossing'

My selects sequences are really dialogue chops with colored markers over our favorite bits. Each movie I evolve this technique slightly and try to take from other Editors what works for them and apply it to my projects. I am in love with selects of all dialogue takes good AND bad because I like being able to audition all the takes with the Director QUICKLY and reference our color markers for what they liked and what I liked.

In cases of montage (which happened a few times on Crossing), I would do “Themed String Outs” with all material involved with that montage story.

Reel 2 of 'Crossing'

One of the challenges of this film was that a portion of it was shot a couple years back in Los Angeles, then the past tense in Armenia more recently, and a couple pickup shoots to patch in elements we needed shot very recently.

We even extended one scene to have extra characters in a car, interacting from shoots 2 years apart from each other! One thing we initially lacked was connecting tissue to help transitions work better.

Arthur was gracious in allowing me to help come up with ideas on what we could shoot to help strengthen these moments. I even got the opportunity to oversee some shots for the pickups and had a blast hearing that film camera roll!

Once we had all these elements together, we began pacing the film, shaving our an entire 10 minutes out of a hospital portion of the movie, test screening and adjusting, and repeating until lock picture. It was about a 17 week edit in all, which is pretty fast, but enough time to do a good job.

Reel 5 of 'Crossing'

In the end it’s really a character piece about a man with a past in one world, and a dying dream in another, wanting the american dream to work in some tough times. I think its a movie that attempts and succeeds to unite people from different worlds, to show that we all deal with similar issues and that we are all human. That’s a message I am always happy to help put into the world!

Crossing is currently in final post stages with a composer creating original score, color and sound just around the corner. Looking forward to this movie getting out into the world!

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I ended up in film editing because I love to tell stories and see an audience respond! There is nothing better than seeing a film work and an audience walk out happy. Never assume you know everything and you’ll always be learning.