Post production can be a lengthy and complicated process but there are simple measures you can take to prevent future post-production headaches. Here are a few of the most important tips we have found:
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Shooting digital gives filmmakers enormous creative freedom. SD cards democratised filmmaking as they are cheap and accessible to everyone. But the downside of this technology is the urge to shoot everything, to call action without much preparation. After all we can afford to shoot tons of footage, right? No. The more footage, especially the poorly planned, unnecessary takes you have, the longer it will take for your editor to make sense of it all.
In the ‘old days’ every foot of film was precious and so the preparation was key. The cast would rehearse, crew would plan each camera movement and each take would be carefully prepared so not a second of film was wasted. Now we tend to shoot a lot of takes before we even give actors a chance to get to know each other. Some indie directors tend to think that rehearsing the script takes away some ‘organic energy’ from the actors performances. But remember that acting is a job. Giving actors more chances to perform their lines and create rapport with each other can only be a good thing. Polishing performances before you call action can also save you a lot of grief in post production. Shoot only what you need after plenty of rehersals.
- Find a trusted script supervisor
Your script supervisor will take care of all the little continuity issues you might have on set. When asked, they can mark the takes you liked the most and make a note of your comments on particular scenes. That will make it much easier for you to find the best performances and best shots in post. She/he will also make sure you have covered everything the script requires.
Micro budget filmmakers have to cut costs, yes. But cutting this position might cost you more in post then you’ve expected. Without script supervisor you are risking re-shoots and lengthy conversations with your editor, who might find the shots don’t match, there’s no coverage you of what comes next or no footage of what you thought you have shot already.
- Talk to your editor before you call action
Preparation is key. I bet you’ve already heard the therm ‘shoot for the editor’ but if you are not an editor yourself it’s best to ask for some input first. Talk to your editor before you start sooting. Create your shot list with them. Experienced editor can tell you right away weather your planned shots will work for your scene. They might propose another angle, different type of coverage, or realise you’ll need more footage for a transition from scene to scene. Good editor sees the film in a different way, they’ve got their own perspective. Find someone who cares about your project and wants to actively and creatively assist you in fulfilling your vision. That person isn’t necessarily the most experienced or expensive editor you can find. Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t ‘get you’. It’s your film and it deserves to be edited by someone who believes in it. If your editor helps you with preparation they’re already half way through the lengthy process of assessing and sorting out the footage in post.
- Don’t leave a tail
Avoid running the camera for too long before the action starts. Don’t leave too much of a tail after you cut either. The editor will watch all your footage so just imagine having to watch several seconds of nothing before every single take! Depending on the number of clips you have that can amount to a substantial loos of valuable time in post.