When you first became interested in independent film, which movie did your friends tell you that you just had to see? For a lot of us, myself included, it was Clerks. After that and several other indie cult successes, including Mallrats and the Chasing Amy, director Kevin Smith became the go-to guy for inspiration, education, and hope for making films independently of the studio system on a shoestring budget. Now Smith shares his 7 Golden Rules of making movies for filmmakers. Check them out after the jump.
Outspoken, unapologetic, and one of the biggest advocates of independent film today, Smith shared 7 filmmaking tips with MovieMaker Magazine that may help you as you gear up for your own project. Here are a couple from the list:
Edit while you’re still shooting.
This is definitely something that varies from person to person. Woody Allen's editor of 15 years, Alisa Lepselter revealed that she and Allen don't edit until they have shot all of the footage. However, shooting and editing simultaneously can have its advantages, like saving time and money, as well as noticing if you need to do a quick pick-up. Smith says:
Whenever I’m not shooting, I’m in the editing room with my footage. While the crew is taking 15 minutes to an hour to set up the next shot, I’m behind the Avid, putting the flick together.
Elaborating on editing while shooting in his next tip, he shares:
More than twice over the course of Clerks II, I was able to grab cutaways or re-shoot coverage a mere 48 hours after wrapping on a particular scene, thanks to chopping while rolling. Two days after wrap, I had a fine cut of the flick because I’d spent the entire shoot editing whenever I wasn’t on set (during production I average three hours of sleep a night).
Include the cast (and crew) in on the editing process, too.
This is a practice I've done since day one -- not necessarily for the reasons Smith describes (I get too excited and want to show what I've put together to everyone.) However, the input I receive from cast/crew, friends, or innocent bystanders has saved me from a sloppy or confusing edit too many times to count.
Of course, this all depends on individual personalities and how savvy your viewers are about editing and storytelling, but having another set of eyes there will help give you an idea of how engaging the material is, if it's making sense, or relaying unwanted messages to your audience -- lingering a half a second longer on a close up of an actor's face can mean leaving the audience with a feeling of "mystery" instead of "resolution."
I’m not saying they should all ride shotgun at the Avid, but once you’ve got scenes cut, roll ‘em for the cast and crew. In some cases, they might provide insight you hadn’t thought of yourself. At the very least, it will convey how collaborative you can be and foster good will amongst the people who are already eager to help you realize your vision.
Check out the full list here.
What do you think about Kevin Smith's tips? What problems/advantages have you run across while editing during production or involving others in the editing process?
[Kevin Smith photo by Flickr user norcrossmedia]