So what do you do with 30,000 feet of film?
I am supposed to keep telling you something about the
process of making a feature-length movie. Since this column began,
I have related what it’s like to make a film. Now that principal
photography is completed, what do we do with all that footage we
Transfer it to video for starters, courtesy of Alpha
Cine Labs. It’s a $7,000 proposition, but we have no choice. No
choice because we don’t have the funds to do a proper post edit
on film. So we are pinning our hopes on doing an off-line edit on
video, assemble a rough-cut of the film, send it down to movie distributors
(most are in Los Angeles) with the end hope being that one of them
will pick up the film and pay for the post work.
This is probably a long-shot. The safer way to make
a movie is to have the funds- all the funds, including the $150,000
needed to do a proper post job on a film- before one sliver of footage
is shot. But we were not so lucky.
I’ve had the idea for American Messiah for over
seven years. While I may not have shopped it around the various
studios and production companies as much as I should have, the few
that did "read" the script immediately passed on it- every
single one claiming it was a religious movie. With a title like American Messiah, this might be apparently so, but this is
not the case when you begin to read the script. Maybe the lesson
here is that production executives don’t bother to read the script
when they don’t like the title.
This period between finished photography and editing
is sometimes accompanied by a let down. The adrenalin that was needed
to push the photography through suddenly is no longer needed, so
when that stopped, I was overcome by the blahs. I began to question
the film itself, wondering if we had a real movie, or whether we
simply exercised something in futility. From what I’ve been told,
this is completely normal.
Recently, however, the enthusiasm has begun to return.
Editing is where the movie is at. That’s where the art of film truly
comes alive. So my excitement is revving up, and I look forward
to spending countless hours staring before the monitor screen looking
at footage over and over again. The trick then is not to get sick
of the film.
My partner on the project, Adam Gold, and I hope to
have a rough edit of the movie in about three months. I would like
to have a special screening and invite readers of this magazine
Before I sign off; here are some loose ends regarding
1. When determining how many scenes to shoot per day,
keep in mind that your crew will start to resent you if you push
them too hard. That is when tempers begin to flare, not to mention
our dark sides. We mistakenly scheduled too many scenes for one
day and ended up shooting until 2 a.m. It was not a good idea. Our
only saving grace is that we had a short shooting schedule, so the
crew was understanding.
2. Having food on the set, constantly, cannot be over-emphasized.
We never really budgeted for food and it ended up being a huge expense,
but it was worth every penny. Having a background in the restaurant
business helped me to insure that no one ever went hungry and to
buy items at wholesale.
3. Disasters will happen- expect them. The night before
principal photography began, we had no film. How you handle these
crises tells a lot about the kind of moviemaker you are.
4. Be careful about where you rent your equipment. Unless
you like living on the edge and gambling whether or not your camera
truck is going to start at two in the morning after a grueling day
of shooting, do your homework. MM