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The making of a rough cut and handling critique

One of the most challenging parts of this documentary journey is showing your project before it is complete. As a documentarian, you have a vision for your project that is never fully finished until the final showing. Rough cut showings are always a struggle for a perfectionist like me.

For my rough cut, I tried to make it as clean as possible in terms of the story structure and character development. I used almost all of the time given to make sure we knew who Jordan was. While I wanted to add the bells and whistles, I knew this was not the time for them.

This was step three in the long process. The first was deciding the topic of my project and the second was actually shooting footage. The third step was producing a rough cut that resembled my story.

Accepting critique is hard sometimes, especially when it comes from people you know and trust. You wanted to impress everyone and a few things fell short or were distracting. This process is good! Trust me! You need to be critiqued in order to get better, especially if you are working alone. As I sit here editing my footage and staring at it for the millionth time, it can be hard to see the fine details. Someone with fresh eyes will notice things that you do not, especially because they do not have the same connection you do to the piece.

What do we do now? Well, I won’t be giving to much away, but the next step is revision. I need to go through and work on those bells and whistles to make the project stand out. Also, I need to take a look at the bones of the project, the middle part that tells the story, and add a bit more context.

While the second cut is not due for another two weeks, I think it is critical to get started now. You can begin to fix more details after fixing the major edits.

What does your editing process look like? How do you approach long-term projects?

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