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The second draft is always exciting. There is a ways to go, but a lot of progress is being made. A documentarian starts with nothing but a vision. Then, the first draft is structural, trying to organize one’s thoughts. Similar to writing an essay, the first draft is always a bit of a hot mess. Things need to swap in and out. Other clips need to switch places. New things need to be shot. Audio levels are inconsistent.

Then, there is a critical step in between drafts. Critique. In my last conversation with you, I discussed what it is like receiving feedback on a project you are so heavily invested in. In short, you take the good. You take the bad and put it all together in your second draft. *Cue The Facts of Life theme*

In the second draft, you can see your story taking shape and structurally making sense. That is exciting because the fun part is about to begin. Advanced editing will make the project sparkle even more and that comes after the second critique.

Feedback again is so important to getting better as a journalist, editor and storyteller. In my third draft, I am going to change a few structural elements again. I think organizing the story is the most challenging part of the documentary process. You have so many sound bites and you have to distill hours of footage into just a few short minutes!

In my initial drafts, I shared Jordan’s story in a chronological way, which makes sense. The style, however, is a little predictable. By moving some of the sound bites around, I am hoping to keep the audience on their toes a bit more, showcasing Jordan’s story in a different way.

Creatively, showing your work is painful because you put your heart into the story. To have people you know and respect about suggest changes can be disheartening. As the producer and director, you have the final say, but never discard other people’s thoughts. You have a deep understanding of the material, but the audience does not. Take the critiques and test them out. If it advances the story, great! Ultimately, showing your work and gathering thoughts and opinions will only help the audience fully absorb what you are trying to convey.

Good luck and happy editing!

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