Thursday, April 25, 2013


Film festival season is once again upon us. All over the world wannabe movie makers are grabbing their DSLRs and homemade steadicam rigs and shooting oblique angles of their friends with lots of focus pulls .. you have to have focus pulls.

Or, you could be like me, old and cranky and lazy. And go through footage you shot a year ago and pull that into something that closely resembles the brief of the festival. Or be even lazier and just re-edit an existing video

Case in point, two videos I've recently submitted to two different festivals. These are 69 second film festivals, which is fairly self explainatory. I like the 60 second format, I actually like anything that puts restrictions on my film making, my professional career made me deadline oriented and I tend to work better when someone provides me with parameter to work within.

Freedom .. scary.

The 60 Second or Less Film Festival comes out of Washington College in the US and was open to both students and non students. By the time I found the festival, the entry deadline was just a few days away,  so to wiggle myself off the hook, there really wasn't time to create a new video. There is a special award in the festival for films with some kind of social awareness. I decided to recycle the video I made last year for the Amplify Me festival in Florida, that festival's brief was to create a video that addressed interpersonal communications in modern society. My original video won third place at that festival so I thought, what the hell, let's see what I could do.

The original video had a running length of two minutes and forty three seconds, a short video but still far too long for a 60 second film fest. So it had to be recut. Yay. I like editing things. Comes with being an editor. I especially like to edit my own stuff, I am definitely a less is more kind of guy.

Are You There, the name of the original film, was a lot of shots of people on the street, original music, information screens, layers of sound effects and voice over segments. I built the video step by step, and as is my way, worked very hard to pare off any "fat" but now I would have to just hack the thing to pieces. Here's the original video

My original thought was to was to cut out a lot of the people shots and maintain the data screens. As I worked, it was clear that that would not be possible. So then I had to decide which info screens had to go in order for the film still to work. I had to go through them and decide: Which of these screens point the viewer to the message I'm trying to convey; in this case, which screens (and which shots for that matter) told the story of how cell phone technology may actually be pulling us apart rather than bringing us together. Here's the 60 version that I submitted, I think  it was successful

The second film festival that I cannibalized a video for was one that I had entered before. Matt Lawrence runs an annual film festival out in Vashon Washington. I submitted a film to the festival last year and Matt invited me to do another one.

The deadline for this one was tight but not impossible. Last year I had submitted a kind of creepy little video and I wanted to do something different this year, something more fun. I had just thrown together a little video for fun, just for the heck of it and I thought it may fit the bill. It was, of course, too long for the festival.

So once again I had to go through the video and cut out the fat. Not from Terra, she's lean and mean .. but you know what I mean. Again, I had a video with images and info screens .. are we getting the hint that I perhaps disdain dialogue or voice over? Anyway, the challenge was to take this 3 minute video, cut it down to one minute and still get my point across. First step was to cut out some of the pics for each "section", so instead of having three shots of Terra for each info screen have one or two.

That still left me way over the target length. After some time of wasting my time (and let's be honest, if you're going to waste your time, you'd rather do it yourself) a lightbulb flickered on over my head. OK it's a dim light bulb, coated in dust but it still goes on .. for a while. It became obvious: Instead of having the "dialogue" screens on black, as separate shots, super them over the pics. And of course just tighten up the pics, trimming a couple seconds off each. This pretty easily got me to my target length; each one of this white on black screens was 3 to 4 seconds, but superimposing them, I cut out a lot of time without much altering the nature of the video. Here is the final product.

There is another 60 film festival on the horizon but for this one, I may actually have to get off my lazy ass and create something original.

No wait, by re editing or recycling existing videos I'm not being lazy, I'm being environmentally aware.

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