“Making Meme” is a series of blog posts about the long process of taking a project from an idea to a completed feature film. I made a lot of mistakes on the way and learned a lot of lessons, but I also had a lot of fun and got to work with a lot of wonderful people throughout the process. These posts are presented in the hopes of helping others in their struggles to make a film.– Sean Mannion, Writer/Director, Meme
As stated in the last update we’d been working on post production of the film since the first weekend of shooting. One of the benefits of shooting over eleven months was that we could work on the edit of the film between shoot days. By the time we reached the end of shooting we had a rough cut of the film. We were also able to do this partly because I was editing the film myself.
Our process after a shoot day was that I would ensure we had a back up of the footage. Then, I would review all of the audio and video clips and rename them by the scene, shot, and take. Our footage was organized by the date it was shot. I would then import the renamed footage into Final Cut Pro X. Within FCPX, I would synchronize the audio and video and review takes. From there I would assemble rough versions of the scenes we’d shot.
Depending on the project I will edit in either FCPX or Premiere Pro. For a larger and more complex project, one where I might add temporary effects to the project, I use FCPX. I have found FCPX to be faster on my computer in those cases than Premiere Pro.
A lot of filmmakers I’ve worked with will advocate for having someone else edit your film. I’ve never done this. For better or worse, I’ve always been my own editor. I’m thinking about the edit while we shoot. Editing is a fundamental part of telling the story and I think that giving over that process to someone else is giving over the storytelling to someone else. I do think it’s important to have someone else working with you on the edit, whether they are handling the footage in the editing program or you are. For me, that person was Producer Carolyn Maher.
During the production process I would periodically send Carolyn some of the scenes we’d shot that I’d been working on and she would share her thoughts. As we got closer to the end of the production we watched the rough cuts of what we had so far together.
After shooting the beer commercials we had a rough cut of everything and I wasn’t really feeling the film was coming together. Carolyn and I had a meeting and watched the whole cut and she turned to me and started politely to say that it wasn’t quite working and I interjected that the film was “boring.” We had the story. We had the emotional beats and the plot beats. They just weren’t coming together in that cut.
It was at this point that I returned to the idea of making the film nonlinear. This was the original plan and conception. Not strictly nonlinear but loosely linear with flashes of earlier and later parts of the story to emphasize emotional beats. So, after my conversation with Carolyn, I worked on a quick rearrangement of the film to see if the nonlinear approach would work with what we had.
When Carolyn and I reviewed the nonlinear test cut we decided it wasn’t right but we were headed in the right direction. This was November of 2015. I spent the next month reviewing what we had and writing down each scene on a notecard and coding it by which storylines or themes it played into.
In the next entry I’ll cover exactly how Carolyn and I rearranged the film and how some elements came in during post production that helped to strengthen some of the existing story.