Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 254. Yesterday was an epically long documentary day. The screening of the “first cut” and the subsequent discussions and note taking and revisions in the script lasted 10 hours. We did take a break for lunch and to see Serena Williams win the last set of the US Open. She was victorious. Something we are not going to be in reaching our goal of submitting to the Sundance Film Festival by the deadline on September 23rd.
We watched the first act down and we were giddy with excitement. “Oh my god, this is so good!” Not that it was perfect but, what and how we needed to revise the opening and set up was crystal clear and we were both on the same page about the direction to go. After taking copious notes and a break we settled in to watch the second act. Within 10 minutes my brow was furrowed and I was mortified. “What the bleep is this?” My Dream Team of volunteer editors had failed to take my string outs and scripts to the next level. The harsh reality is that much of the edits they did for the second act scenes are discombobulated, unusable messes. In other words, I’m basically back to square one with my own string outs for the majority of the second act. By the end of the screening process, Producing Partner and I were in such a comatose state we couldn’t speak. The amount of work still left to do on the film was sobering. We just needed to sleep.
After the roller coaster ride of it all, I passed out for a much needed eight hours. And this morning, I am able to see the good news. Woo hoo! The good news is that we are really clear now on what stays in and what goes. We’re really clear about how we want to set up the first act. And we are really clear how much editing we each personally have to do to reach a truly watchable cut. Perhaps you wouldn’t say the latter is good news but I’m looking at it as good news. And here’s why: because I have to in order to finish my film! No one knows this film or cares about it the way my partner and I do. In fact, no one gives a shit whether it ever gets finished or not but us. That’s the real harsh reality. And that’s why we can’t try and farm it out to anyone else from here on out. We must personally take our vision, our film’s story and finish cutting it together. Oh, which reminds me of another bit of good news. I’m actually a good editor! Seeing what our young, novice “editors” did with my string outs drove that discovery home. I may not be fast and I may not be slick but I instinctually know how to tell a story. And tell a story I will.
And there you have it. The saga of my quest to finish my documentary continues. Am I disappointed that we aren’t going to make the deadline to be considered for Sundance 2013? Surprisingly, not at all! One of Think Outside The Box Inside The Box’s mantras keeps running through my mind this morning: “creating in and of itself is the goal and the victory.” I am going to continue to complete the creation that is my documentary film! By continuing to create, I realize that I actually am victorious, not in a Serena Williams way but, in my own way. And that’s all I can do—keep creating: the goal and the victory.
This week, we’re going to dial in the revised script and new structure, map out a plan and create a schedule. Dan the Amazing Editor Man is still on board to continue to help out with polishing cuts. Bless his heart! I’ll be officially donning my “I’m a real editor” editing hat full time come Monday, September 17th.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have….the victory of creating in your own way.