Once the film is shot the journey is far from over. The post production process can be both miraculous and heart breaking. It is an opportunity to reinvent your story, to change things around if necessary and really play with the footage you have. A chance to tweak things and highlight details to give the film nuance. But without the right team guiding you through the process – and making the process work seamlessly – post production can be a nightmare that a number of filmmakers get trapped in.
Luckily on Restoration we had an amazing Post Production team led by our incredible editor Edward Sampson. In this post we hear a bit about the editorial process alongside one of the critical make-or-break areas, particularly for a film like Restoration, the grade with our colourist Gerard Ward.
A huge thank you also to the team at Digital Post – everyone should do post there if they can it is a wonderful environment.
Ed: I liked the concept and I wanted to do a horror. I also enjoy working with the director and producer.
Gerard: I thought the script was awesome. It was exciting and scary, and demanded to be seen. Having come off the success of Evil Dead a year earlier I was very keen to jump into another horror/thriller and Tim’s script had great potential, which he then faithfully brought to the screen.
What do you take into consideration when doing the first assemble and first initial cut of the film?
Ed: A film cuts itself. It takes shape on it own. You have no control of it even when you are the editor of it.
Can you explain the process you used for editing Restoration?
Tim: As usual, I went through the library of takes for the entire film. Also, we now have a working routine with Ed, whereby he assembles the first cut as he sees fit. Then we dismantle it scene by scene and rebuild it. But that first cut gives us a solid base and often inspires us. Ed has a good feel for the story and he’s not afraid to put forward suggestions without being defensive. It’s a great quality in an editor. We’re also both ruthless with duration, so we didn’t have many problems getting it down to the desired length. I wanted a 15min film, and that’s what we got.
Ed: This is the third time working with Tim and we have a understanding of each other in how we work. Each project with Tim so far has been different. From Black comedy (Crackheads to satire Russian Dolls) to Restoration which is a horror. For Restoration I was the DIT, post production coordinator and editor so I had a few jobs. I was on set most of the time editing on set, when there was power. This is good as I can get the camera sticks and back up the media. The down side you have a lot of crew coming in to view the footage. This can become a distraction for you. Towards the end of the shoot I ended up setting up office at Digital Post. This was good because you in a nice warm dry environment with power.
Tim’s initial thoughts on grading from our pitch packet
The world of the film will be distinctive and moody, heavily graded, with bold intentional colours. The exteriors will be sombre, cold and detached, with silver clouds that progressively darken, foreshadowing the oncoming storm. The interiors will be mainly in grey, brown and muted yellow, with tungsten light and significant chunks of black and directional spotlights almost isolating the artist and his work from the space around him. As the painting gets restored, its prevalent red and off-red colours will “spill” into the real world, culminating in the domineering red lava that invades the studio.
Tim had a strong vision for the grade of the film, how did you go about translating this?
Gerard: Tim and I had never worked together before, but a casual get-together in advance of shooting helped build a creative kinship, and a desire to get the best out of the film. Tim knows what he wants, but at the same time he is open to ideas, and his regular question “have we done enough?” really kept me on my toes. I’m very happy with the end result.
Tim: I love grading, and I learned a lot on this film. While the pictures always looked pretty, our first pass was not nuanced enough and it was too bright. I realised that the film was brighter than intended overall, so I asked for another pass, where we when through each shot and worked on it as a still. It was lots of work but we all felt it was worth it. I’m very grateful to the team for the painstaking effort they’ve put into it.
What do you like to take into consideration when taking on board a project?
Gerard: I like to see that a filmmaker has passion. In Tim’s case, he put his heart and soul into the script. And he genuinely loves movies. It’s very refreshing, and fun, and makes the process much more interesting for me. I like to see that a filmmaker has passion. In Tim’s case, he put his heart and soul into the script. And he genuinely loves movies. It’s very refreshing, and fun, and makes the process much more interesting for me.
Ed: What type of project it is, the script, the producer and people who you are directly working with.
Gerard: Having a clear creative opinion, or a “look” in mind, is always a good start. I’m happy if a director brings references or images they like into the grading suite. It gives me a starting point, and lets me get into the same headspace. Tim was like this. There was never a time when we had no idea how it was going to look, so the benchmark was set from the start.
Edward Sampson – Editor
Edward Sampson started in the film industry for 20 years ago, making a short films using his super 8 camera. Since then he has produced four short films, been co-producer, co-editor and Post Production Producer on feature ‘I’m Not Harry Jenson’ and editor of ‘Crackheads’.
Sampson has a wealth of Knowledge in the post production industry having been employed by Digipost for eleven years. In that time he worked on the television series ‘Power Rangers’, ‘Spartacus’, and the 3D feature film ‘Beyond the Edge’
Gerard Ward – Colourist
Gerard Ward has been a film and digital colourist for the past 17 years, working in the top post-houses in Dublin, Prague and Auckland. He has experience on features, shorts, commercials, music videos, and everything in between. Arguably his biggest claim to fame is the remake of “Evil Dead” which he colour-graded in early 2013. It went to #1 at the U.S. Box Office. A keen eye and a love of great images are what drive his love for colour grading.