Getting a film made, much less even accepted into a festival, is incredibly difficult work. Even more so if the project you're on is the first time you’ve been at Tribeca. 

This is precisely where Jamie Boyle and Kelly Kendrick found themselves. These two editors ventured into Tribeca with documentaries and found theaters filled with audiences. Both editors used Adobe Premiere Pro to cut their films, while a host of supporting creatives dove into Adobe Creative Suite to fill in the gaps. 

But how did their workflow help usher these films onto the festival screen? We spoke with Boyle and Kendrick on the No Film School Podcast to glimpse their creative process. Here’s what we discovered and what you can adapt to your workflow.

Breaking the News

Breaking the News is a documentary about The 19th, the first nonprofit, nonpartisan news agency in the United States that focuses on the impact of national politics and policy on women. 

What made their story worth telling (beyond the importance of the things they covered) is that their launch occurred right before COVID-19 brought the world it a halt. Jamie Boyle, who edited the documentary using Adobe Premiere, worked with three directors: Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez.

Breaking The News'Breaking the News'Credit: Four Pillars Films

1. (Not) Taking A Note

To navigate the trio of notes, opinions, and ideas, Boyle set clear boundaries when communicating with the directors. Everyone had to be on a call whenever they had to discuss a note. But there was more to the relationship than just communicating clearly. 

“I realized early on that (the directors) were not going to agree, and they shouldn’t. It’s a subjective thing, and to force them to agree would feel like it’s watering down (the project) for somebody. It just didn’t feel like a win,” Boyle said. “So what I really tried to do was rather than force them to come to a consensus, like, talking it through was one thing, but I never asked for an answer, I never asked for a final note, or a final takeaway."

“I just took what all of them were saying and tried to just come up with something completely new,” Boyle explained. “I tried to take in the essence of what they were saying.”

breakingthenews_heathercourtney'Breaking the News'Credit: Four Pillars Films

Writers deal with this issue all the time. Sometimes you’re in the room with producers and other executives, and everyone has an idea they’d like to share about what you should do with the story. More often than not, those notes conflict with what the writer has in mind. Other times, the executives will conflict with each other. But understanding “the note behind the note” is a powerful tool for writers.

This approach helped Boyle navigate a trio of directors, which isn’t a common occurrence. But even with a single director, this technique would be beneficial. An editor isn't just there to push buttons. The creative input they offer to a project is crucial to its success.

2. A Little Bit Of Shine

Yet as much as Boyle needed to set clear boundaries, she also went out of her way to create clarity in how Breaking the News was seen in its various stages.

“I really like doing temp color correction,” Boyle shared. “It’s so satisfying to make a scene shine before you send it out to festivals or even directors sometimes because a lot of time they are shooting their own stuff, and I want them to feel good about it.”

“Just doing tiny things, to the color, just gives it a little bit of shine,” Boyle said.

As an editor, you won’t always be working with directors or clients that understand the intricacies of the image pipeline. Utilizing Boyle’s approach allows editors to remove obstacles and have decision-makers focus on the critical things, like story and pacing. 

However, Boyle seems to go above and beyond. For most projects, using a conversion LUT to Rec.709 should be more than enough. 

Breaking The News'Breaking the News'Credit: Four Pillars Films

Every Body

Editor Kelly Kendrick, on the other hand, only worked with one director—Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Julie Cohen (RGB, My Name Is Pauli Murray). Cohen's new documentary, Every Body, focused on three intersex people and their individual experiences with stigma, social pressure, and non-consensual surgeries performed on them as minors. 

A complex topic to discuss, Cohen and Kendrick utilized two important things to nurture moments where the audience needed to listen and moments of celebration

3. Music and Silence

Right from the beginning, Cohen knew she wanted this film to be a celebration. “Julie (the director), she kind of wanted this to be a joyous film from the beginning,” Kendrick said. “So we actually started editing with no music whatsoever, just no score.”

Every Body directed by Julie Cohen'Every Body'Credit: Focus Features

“We didn’t wanna try to tell people how to feel about their stories. Especially when we’re talking about really, really personal medical things that they’ve gone through in their lives,”  Kendrick said. “A lot of those things, we just didn’t really want to have a tone.” 

Music, or the lack of it, plays such an important role when creating the tone for your film. For Every Body, this concept set the foundation for the entire project.  

“Julie, even before I started, knew that she wanted to use gender-flipped covers for music,” Kendrick explained. “So it would be a woman covering Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen.” 

Every Body directed by Julie Cohen'Every Body'Credit: Focus Features

He continued to say, “We had a huge bin of music that we were experimenting with for the fun sections and then for the darker sections, just no music for a long time.” “Eventually, we brought on Amanda Yamate to do a score, and it was very minimal.”

Because of the subject matter, both Kendrick and Cohen worked hard to let the audience know when it was time to sit and listen to the story and when its time to celebrate. 

But what did you learn? Will you evolve your editing workflow because of these tips?

Let us know in the comments!