Filmmaking from an Editor | Aria Pictures Weblog
Date: June 11, 2020
Author: Gerald Martin Davenport
Reading Time: 2 minutes
How I approach a Film / Video project
Historic Journey or Typical Path
I have a unique insight into filmmaking which started back in 1978 at the age of thirteen; watching movies differently than most people, and most kids my age who would comment on the action: how awesome, gruesome, or cool it was; I was interested in how they did it?
Instead of imagining being the hero or the villain, I imagined what it looked like from the actor’s point of view: how many people were behind the camera, what kind of camera was used, how many takes did it take to get the right one, why did the director/editor choose that particular take, why did they choose to put the camera there, who was actually in charge of making the movie?
When Star Wars came out in 1979, it just fueled the creative fire that burned to share my fever of creative materials: songs, music compositions, poetry, stories – long and short of many genres, pictures, drawings, and whatever else came to be from my hands — I wanted to to be an artist/entertainer when I was eight.
In high school, during the early ’80s, I took a video production elective and had access to film and video camera’s which I became an expert on because of my still photography experience, but it didn’t satisfy the hunger for more; the acting was not the answer, and writing helped but there had to be something more, and it was found when it was time to assemble the media — the actual action an editor does — is where I felt comfortable and my appetite was appeased. I loved the control, the ability to alter and rewrite what was imagined, written, or intended to make what was captured better, to re-envision the final product, and deliver an eye-catching statement — that is what I wanted to do.
Dead End Jobs – Follow Your Dreams
I am not one of the overly fortunate people on this planet: my parents were not wealthy, they divorced when I was twelve, I had to make my own bed and sleep in it, and I had to grow up without a childhood; I know, others have it worse, and others never got the chance to even have what I have; but on that same note, there are those that do not appreciate what they do have and more than they ever need, which is a hundred times more than me; but whining, complaining, and worrying about it does not do a damn thing but make one self-conscious, have low self-esteem, and have contempt for everyone else. I know, I lived it — still arises once in a while, but I GREW UP and stopped blaming others — something everyone should do.
Actually the title should be ‘Indie Filmmaking from an Editor’s view’, but I did not want to put Indie in the title because filmmaking is filmmaking no matter what level of budget one has; what matters is the FINAL PRODUCT, not the way you got there; although, how you take that journey does have an effect on where you end up — or what you end up with.
I remember going to film school and the instructors said that I should be an editor for an up and coming director. Well, I did not like any of the directors that were attending at the same time I was — they were your typical arrogant type. And from their IMDb pages, which 2 out of 10 of them are listed, have nothing on them, if you compare it to my IMDb profile; and technically I have nothing compared to the next person.
I decided to generate my own projects to edit; I had stories I always wanted to tell, not that I considered myself as a writer, but I have entertained people with them in print.
I did not have any issues with camera angles since I have been running a camera for many years and am an avid movie watcher, so I knew what to do and what not to do, so there really was no issue for me not to make my own movie, other than getting actors and directing them, which is a whole different subject and article in itself.
What helped me along my journey is my editor knowledge and knowing, or as I say see, the finished product before it begins. I see the angles, framing, action, movement of the camera, and so much more, which helps me when I write my material, and direct other people’s films — I do not write or capture things I will not use, plus I get things that I know I will need to cut away if needed.
A good filmmaker, albeit, director, cinematographer, sound person, and other above the line positions, should have an idea of how post-production and editing work! PERIOD! It will make them a better filmmaker to make better films and have a much better time on set. Organization and preparedness are key elements in making a film.
Arrogance or Ego, I do not care what you call it or think I may be, but Editors, not the director unless the director is sitting behind the editor, but even then, we have our ways, can make or break a film, can make an actor look good or bad, and we shape the flow, pacing, and look of the movie which is what we are paid to do — some are just monkeys pushing the buttons but not me, and we get little to no appreciation, which is why, even though I might write and/or direct movies, my proudest credit next to my name is Editor.
What is in a name? Who the heck are you?
Now I am no way saying I am the end-all to everything in film production, I have no major credits to my name, not made millions on my films, my name is not a household name, nor are any of my projects, so where do I come off, and who do I think I am?
I have been on wonderfully run sets and, well, the complete opposite; there are many key factors that make a smooth production, such as, the right people, no egos, PLANNING, preparation, teamwork, listening, and the right attitude, all of these are predicated on by the RIGHT PEOPLE.
A smooth and productive set allows you to get the right takes, better performance from the actors and crew, teamwork where everyone feels – and KNOWS – they are part of the production and take ownership – work harder – pay attention – and sacrifice their time, and a camaraderie that extends into a family feel and that is priceless.
What I can give you because it is what I have delivered on every project is a smooth, organized, wonderfully ran set — same as I described above I get the right people (for the most part) — and a delivered product that people will cherish and view over and over.
On Set Memories
I remember my first project on my own (PAINT) back in 2005, I was showing 22 people at the in-law’s house because they had the room and the bigger TV, a rough version of the film and I watched their reactions which made me feel good; when it was done, there was applause and one person spoke up “That was like a real movie.”
My second project, with help from many talented Sacramento people, was THE GOLdEN TREE; Yinique Myo-Flores came to me and thanked me for making her feel like part of a family on set — everyone made her feel comfortable.
These and many more just make me feel I did something right.
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