Generally the films I make or am a part of take a long time, a great deal of pre-production, and a lot of loving and caring in post. Things don’t always work out that way, case in point, the music video I produced for UrbanHanded Works last month. James Hoffman directed yet another video clip for the United Steel Workers of Montreal, this one funded by FACTOR, and not from the band’s pockets which was nice for a change. The song’s name is “Little Girl” off the album Three on the Tree. Our budget was still quite tight, and we had to call in a few favours, but I have hope that this signals a new stage for the band so next time we can pay our great volunteer crew.
We went from greenlight to production in about three weeks, and James edited the piece in less than 3 days. Our reasons for being rushed were complicated, but basically we had a deadline to send back to FACTOR we didn’t want to try to extend further. It all worked out, and we got the project in on time, which I am very happy about. Deadlines are great because they push us to finally call something “finished” even if we could probably work on it for another few weeks, if not months.
My own short film, Mr. Crab, has taken a long time to produce because I waited for crew to become available and the summer to arrive to shoot. Then in post because I took my time with the picture edit, and gave my musical composer Jawad Chabaan and sound editor Emory Murchison a great deal of breathing room so they could fit in a few other projects. That and festival application season wasn’t upon us. And then… it was.
The result? Rushing at the end. I haven’t worked on a film where we weren’t rushing at the end yet, and I don’t think I ever will. Perhaps it is human nature. We need deadlines to give us a reason to move onto the next project. When you’re an independent artist it can be too easy to work on that project you’ve been nurturing forever, for – well, forever. But there is a bell curve to the benefit that extra time will positively affect the project. Some would argue too much tweaking can hurt a film, and I tend to agree. But where is the healthy balance? I say, make a realistic deadline, and stick to it.
Unless you have to break it, so you can slightly change that shot that has been bothering you for a while. Trust me, I’ve been there.