"Can’t wait to see the new video. Is it ready yet?” -Others
It started with an email. Then there was a meeting. Interviews were filmed. B-roll was shot. Now everything you’ve worked on is sitting on a hard drive. And it's waiting, waiting for you to edit it into a work of art, transforming it into a masterpiece.
The people around you have high hopes. It’ll be so awesome, maybe the best thing they’ve ever seen. People will clap. Maybe it’ll go viral and you’ll be a huge deal. They can’t wait to see what you come up with.
I’ve always found it challenging to switch gears from filming to post production - halfway through the process, but miles from inspiration, unsure if I have everything I need to take my project across the finish line. Reality starts to set in. Inertia starts to kick in.
I’ve had to cross this particular threshhold a few hundred times, and I’ve noticed a few things that consistently help me get moving. If it’s time for you to dig in on your edit, here are a few suggestions.
1. Get organized.
Start by getting all of your footage, b-roll, music and other media files organized together, labeled in bins and easy to find. Nothing kills a creative idea as quickly as trying to find that one stupid file that you was sure was on that other hard drive. While you’re at it, consider straightening up your workspace. Mentally, this helps create space for creative problem solving, which is what editing is.
2. Get quiet.
I know you’re anxious to get moving, but this is important. Take time to listen through the story you’ve recorded. Don’t watch. Close your eyes and listen. You want to create something that resonates deeply with your audience. Quiet down and respond to what you hear. Better yet, ask God what He wants you to know about this story. Let Him start guiding your creative process.
3. Get clear.
Once you’ve listened through your story, identify the one thing you want your audience to hear and resonate with above all else. Write that down in a sentence. (I use note cards.) Then go back through your story and write down a sentence for each section of your story.
- “Sarah grew up feeling distant from her parents.”
- “Loneliness was something she carried into her relationships.”
- “One night she got a phone call that changed everything."*
Seeing themes emerge will help you begin to pull together the story you want your audience to see - who the character is, what they want, what stands in their way, how God showed up and changed things, and what they know now.
Writing this down makes it easier to visualize a structure so you can start editing with clarity, figuring out what to keep and what to toss.
4. Get inspired (again).
For many editors, myself included, this involves finding some music that moves us, and hopefully fits our story. For others it’s visual inspiration, scrolling through the b-roll they shot and thinking about how and when it should catch the audience’s eye.
Everyone is inspired differently. The point is this: it’s late in your process, so it’s easy to focus on just getting it done. If you ever were inspired about what you're working on, it might feel like a distant memory. Finding inspiration later in the process is crucial to seeing your idea through so you can, in turn, inspire your audience.
5. Get something to work.
Editing is now a non-linear process, which means you don’t have to start work chronologically from the beginning of your story. In fact, it’s not always clear how to start. I’ve wasted am enormous amount of edit time trying to figure this out first, until I discovered a way around it.
I’ve found that it’s more creatively interesting (and effective) to start building one or two powerful moments within the story and get it working. Even if it’s just a 15 or 20 second clip, I try to get something to work well with my narrative, visuals and music together.
These are moments that capture the essence and tone of what the story will feel like. Once I have one or two of these moments working, I can start building other story elements around them. It helps me clarify how to start the story and where to take it.
The edit is a storyteller's moment of truth, a discovery process of trial and error that connects a story to yout audience. It'll take everything you've got to make it come to life. Hope this helps you get moving.
Because we can't wait to see what you come up with.