This post was written by Meagan Keane and originally appeared on Adobe blog on Sept. 21, 2022.

Based on a James Lee Burke story, God’s Country, which premiered at Sundance in January 2022, stars a grieving college professor, played by Thandiwe Newton, who is mourning the loss of her mother. When she comes across a pair of hunters trespassing on her property, a battle of wills begins with devastating consequences. The film, presented by IFC Films, debuts in theaters on Sept. 16, 2022.

We sat down with editor, Justin LaForge, to discuss his editing process and how using Premiere Pro, After Effects, and helped him work remotely. He hails as one of the most important tools he used while working on the long-distance project.

How and where did you first learn to edit?

My first foray into editing was during my sophomore year in high school (1996). A classmate and I created a parody of the show "Funniest Home Videos", in which we would edit clips from horror films in place of actual home videos. We would use a Camcorder and two VHS decks to make the edits. We thought it was hilarious at the time, but it was probably incoherent and unwatchable.

How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?

In general, my setup is pretty simple. I organize media based on scene numbers. I review the footage and develop an opinion on what I think is valuable in each take. That opinion begins to evolve as I start putting scenes together. My goal is to figure out how I feel the footage is working (or not working).

On this project, the story was broken up into seven days. Each day of the story was separated by a title card (day 1, day 2, etc.), and towards the end of the editing process, that was how we would work—per day.

Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why it stands out to you.

The first encounter between our main character (Sandra) and the local sheriff (Wolf) was my favorite scene to work on. The scene was shot relatively early on in the production, and it was the first big dialog scene for me to edit. I would like to take full credit for that scene, but the reality is, everything about that scene was just working: the writing, the performances, the cinematography. The strength of the footage allowed for director Julian Higgins and I to go back and reshape the scene, with more nuance, as the rest of the film evolved.

What were some specific post-production challenges you faced that were unique to your project? How did you go about solving them?

A major challenge to completing this project appeared when production was shut down halfway through principal photography because of COVID-19 in March of 2020. There was a real possibility that the film would never be completed. Luckily, Julian and I had already planned on working remotely, which at the time seemed highly unusual. Production didn't start up again until the following year, March 2021.

Media_19310080837169e79606afc50bb742c180b5e07f1'God's Country'Credit: IFC Films

What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were they the best choice for this project?

I chose to use Premiere Pro as the editing platform for this project. I was familiar with the cloud-based Team Projects now available with Premiere Pro, and because of the need to edit remotely, this became a great solution. In addition to editing in Premiere Pro, I also used After Effects for any temp VFX shots in the edit, of which there were close to one hundred.

We used for team members to review dailies. The production was in Montana, and I was editing in Idaho, so allowed me to see dailies before the media drives would arrive at my house. Also, I was able to download some offline clips that were missing from one of the drives delivered and use it in the edit. It had retained all the necessary metadata.

What’s your hidden gem or favorite workflow hack in Adobe Creative Cloud?

I knew that if Julian and I were to work remotely, he was going to need more direct access to the footage, and that I would have to teach him the basics of how Premiere Pro works. Within a few short lessons, Julian was effectively able to use the software, having never touched it previously. This is definitely one of the strengths of the program—how intuitive and easy it is to use.

I feel like Team Projects sharing is an amazing feature available through Premiere Pro. By simply creating identical media sources, you can edit remotely with as many collaborators as you have drives! Also, Morph Cut is an amazing effect to have in the toolkit.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?

One of the most difficult things for me to do in my career was to move away from Los Angeles, California to Boise, Idaho. I had a job I loved that was rewarding and challenging, and I had many close friends and creative collaborators with whom to work. However, I could see in my mentors' lives what it took to be a successful editor and knew that it was not the kind of work/life balance I needed (or what my family needed). Luckily, those friends and collaborators didn't disappear when I moved, we just had more phone conversations than we did in the past. Also, I found new friends and collaborators since I made the move. With the support of my family, I was able to get to where I am now, a video editing job with a good work/life balance and rewarding creative opportunities. My advice to aspiring filmmakers is to discover what you would like to get out of this career and to surround yourself with people that you enjoy spending time with.

Share a photo of where you work. What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?

My favorite thing about my workspace is the commute because it is in the basement of my house.

Media_142cdda6e5685f19134afc53741f843676e25e9afCredit: IFC Films

God’s Country, presented by IFC Films, is in theaters on Sept. 16, 2022.

This post was written by Meagan Keane and originally appeared on Adobe blog on Sept. 21, 2022.