Cutting room photo. Crystal Lee (pictured left) in “Break Even” (2020) directed by Shane Stanley.
Getting Through Post
Written by Shane Stanley
One thing I’ve learned in my thirty-plus years as a filmmaker is to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect the unexpected, and nothing can be truer when it comes to post-production. A problem a lot of filmmakers run in to is not only appropriately budgeting finances for post but planning accordingly when it comes to time, and time is our most valuable asset. George Lucas coined the phrase, “Films aren’t finished, they’re abandoned,” and man was he right. You either run out of time, money, or both. Below are some tips I try to live by whenever possible to see the time part of the equation doesn’t bite us in the keester.
Start collaborating with your composer as soon as possible. Send the script before you shoot and have discussions early about what you’re looking for. If you can, have an editor start assembling your dailies as you shoot. This does two things: it alerts production of any technical problems or bad habits with slating or dead pixels in the cameras and can give you peace of mind when things are hunky-dory. It also allows a film to be close to “assembled” shortly after you wrap filming. Once assembled, share the rough cut with that composer, and even though you’ll be fine-tuning your edit for a while, your maestro will be in sync with your project and not starting from scratch months later once you’ve locked picture. I strongly suggest you start working with a colorist as soon as you have an assembly edit so they can start setting LUTS for each scene, so again, once you’re finished, it’s a much quicker process to get the final color temperatures and touchups where they’ll need to be. The same can apply to your VFX team.
One thing so many filmmakers wait too long to do is involve their re-recording mixer or sound house early. This is crucial so they can budget the time and manpower it will take to get everything done and not shock you at the eleventh hour explaining the film will require tons of ADR, SFX, foley, and dialogue editing which can take a lot of time to complete. In a perfect world your coloring, VFX, scoring, and mixing can all be done around the same time so you’re not waiting unnecessarily for these elements to come in seemingly endless gaps.
Shane Stanley, filmmaker and author of the popular new book, “What You Don’t Learn in Film School” is a lifelong entertainment industry insider, who has worked in every aspect of the business, covering a multitude of movies, television shows and other successful projects. At 49 years old, Stanley has been a steady earner in film and television since he was in diapers with a career that started in front of the camera at 9 months old and grew into a life of a multi-Emmy Award-winning filmmaker spanning more than three decades. To order a copy of Shane’s book and for his seminar schedule, please visit www.whatyoudontlearninfilmschool.com.