Event Zero is a webisode series where you are Producer and Editor. How was this an advantage to the edit process?
Having created a series’ story, and being involved all the way through to post as a producer and editor has some great advantages. When you’re working on a tight budget, you need to be able to create stories with a very clear idea of how they are to be achieved on set, and in post. Being on set every day as a producer enabled the directors to pull me aside when they suddenly were running out of time for all their setups for the day and discuss what could be dropped without editorially compromising the storytelling. Having an overview to the story like that I think only helps in the director / editor collaboration.
This is a disaster movie from 7 different perspectives in short snippets. What challenge did this create in the edit suite?
Continuity was fun! We had many sequences that were either repeated, or needed to be retold from a slightly different perspective, so making sure that these were all consistent, as well as the feasibility of the timeframes in which the events surrounding those moments happen was certainly a lot to keep track of. Also, being lucky enough to work with 4 immensely talented directors across the series – Carlo Ledesma (The Tunnel), Shane Abbess (Gabriel), Andrew Traucki (The Reef), and Marc Furmie – was brilliant. These guys all approached their respective episodes like mini-feature films, which was great, but it meant that in most cases we we had so much coverage that our cuts were coming in much longer in duration than was acceptable to investor Movie Extra. The biggest challenge was getting cuts that were sometimes up to 7 or 8 minutes down to 4 to 5 minutes, all without compromising story points, or the stunning performances from the likes of Zoe Carides, Harry Pavlidis and Henry Nixon – just to name a few. We got there in the end though, and I feel like we’ve got some very VERY tight storytelling, which only heightens their impact. A very wise editor once said to me that “every frame has to fight for its right to be on the screen”. I certainly exercised that every day on this project.
How important is established working relationships – David Sander – VFX/grade, Paul Dawkins – composer and Sasha Zastavnikovic – sound designer/mixer in a tightly budget project?
These kinds of established relationships are crucial. Small budgets always mean you’re working on tight schedules, and the kind of shorthand that you establish when working on other projects becomes invaluable. You also get a feel for the sensibilities of the people you work with, how they tend to practice their respective crafts, and how to maximise everyone’s impact in their department. Distracted Media pretty much works with these guys on everything we do. It’s hard to go past talent when you’ve found it. There’s also something to be said for a group of people that believe in what they are doing. They’ll always go the extra mile for the project, and produce some of their best work. Once again, on a tight budget, that sort of enthusiasm is beyond precious.
What was the post path and turnaround for the web series?
Our last day of shooting was 23rd April (Episode 2), and Episode 1 went out in late May. We had the equivalent of approximately a week in post for each episode. The talents of my other editors – Julian Harvey edited Episode 4, and Carlo Ledesma had a significant hand in editing his 3 episodes) – were invaluable.
We shot on Canon DSLRs (1D and 5D), and our DPs on the series (Shing Fung Cheung, Steve Davis, Tania Lambert) made the absolute most of the format. We then edited in FCP 7, with all roto, compositing and grading done in After Effects. 3D train was modeled and animated in Electric Image. This was then sent out to ProTools for sound design and mix.
What is your favourite experience?
I think having the chance to work with such a varied group of directors and seeing what each one brought to their little slice of the story. There’s a certain energy that comes with each new person, and when you’re working on something every day for such a long period of time, having someone walk into your edit room and bring a new energy is invaluable.