by Erin Casper, Editor, OUR SCHOOL
Now that I’ve had a moment to recover from waking up at 7 a.m. every day, I’ve gotten to digest what happened over the last week at the IFP Documentary Lab.
Like any other pasty editor toiling away in their dark office*, I am always eager to get out to filmmaking workshops. What pulled me away from my desk this week was the opportunity to be among ten dynamic first-time film making teams from around the country participating in a wonderfully comprehensive, and intense, post-production lab.
The first two days of the lab started off with all of the fellows introducing their projects and receiving in-depth feedback from our one-on-one and editing mentors. Our editing mentor, Mary Lampson, worked with us on figuring out how to make the leap from our late assembly stage to an early rough cut. For me – being a first-time feature doc editor – it was like having an intervention at a moment of vulnerability in the film’s structure, pacing, tone and style.
Since our film doesn’t have any music in it yet, we were a case study for the panel on how to work with a composer. We learned what works and doesn’t work when you describe the kind of music you are looking for (i.e. do not say things like, “this part needs some movement”) and when to start working with them (i.e. as early as possible). One good idea was to let your composer watch your film and create music based on their response to it, and then respond in turn by describing the specific parts you liked to spur on further brainstorming. Other ideas were to watch films with music you both thought worked and figure out why, and to listen to music together.
The rest of the week focused on the afterlife of the film with workshops and panels ranging from marketing and PR, to outreach, distribution, and legal issues. Somewhere around the grassroots marketing panel, it began to sink in how much work there is to do over the next year or so after picture lock. It seems almost like even more work than editing the film itself. A dizzying. Amount. Of work.
Now with this sobering realization in mind, I am itching to get back to the office and finish the film so it can take on its own unpredictable life in the world.
*Just kidding about the dark office, but I really am pasty as hell.