To follow Graham's production log, click on the picture.
by Graham Lawford
After years of starting and stopping on various projects, I was starting to think the day would never come. I had written and shot some very lowbrow (and low budget) comedy sketches with friends a few years ago, but nothing ever happened with the tapes. Probably for the best. I’ve written a feature length screenplay, some concepts for animated series, and started a few other projects that never made it past the first act.
While my concepts were strong I came to realize that you can't get very far as an “idea guy” alone. You have to roll up your sleeves and shoot something, then roll them up even more and edit what you shot. By the end of the day you’re bare armed up to your shoulders, but if everything lines up you may have something decent to show for yourself. My first documentary was screened at the Wakefield International Film Festival!
Having completed my short doc in December, I had moved on from the project faster than I had expected to. I hadn’t reviewed my film in over a month. Seeing it again, this time with an audience and on a big screen was an amazing experience. The crowd applauded and the reviews were positive. I can officially say that I am a filmmaker whose work has been screened at an international film festival.
I was on a high. My fiancée rolled here eyes, amazed yet again at the power of my own ego, and I was brought back down to earth and reminded yet again that the important part is doing the work. The rest will come.
Until then check out my first short, Karen Bailey: A Portrait.
Three days in the editing room... that was my weekend.
Friday night I transcribed my interviews, a tedious but necessary task that helped me find my story within a lengthy and interesting interview with my subject, Karen Bailey. Karen is a talented artist and a wonderful woman who spent a week in Kandahar with the Canadian Forces medical staff back in 2007. This experience inspired her Triage Series, which she has spent the past 3 years painting and promoting.
Saturday I assembled my edit script and made subclips. Once this was finished I started laying out the first sequence. After reviewing my footage a number of times I found what I needed to build a basic three act structure. Cramming it into 4 minutes will be the tricky part.
Act one introduces Karen as she discusses what she tries to capture in her paintings, before setting up the twist that begins the second act. I used interview clips to begin this sequence with the intention of going back and inserting actuality and stills to enhance the visuals and compliment the story.
Sunday morning I returned to the editing room to put together the second and third acts for my rough edit. With the previous day's work fresh in my mind I was able to pull the two sequences together fairly quickly. having reviewed all three acts and trimming some sections that I was originally intent on including, I think the story remains strong and is more concise than before.
After sitting down to do the work I’m much less intimidated by using Final Cut. I know I still have a lot of work to do before my first film is finished, but I’m more optimistic than I would have been this time last week, so that’s a step in the right direction.
Next up is selecting the right visuals to suit my story. With a ton of stills and over an hour of actuality it shouldn’t be too difficult. Once that’s in place I can start thinking about adding music and more advanced effects.
A collection of field notes, interviews, and reviews from Algonquin's Documentary Production Class of 2012