Film Making

Film is my day job.

I studied corporate finance at university (long story).

I worked on 2 films back to back with the same DP in 2018 — one shot on film and one shot digitally. People genuinely can’t seem to figure out which is which. Which I guess is a testament to current advancements in technology?


Big fan of Noe and I absolutely loved Climax.Bravo!

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Fun fact — I saw you screen your 3D video at the Freemason lodge in Culver City.

Distinctly remember you guys explaining how you built your own rig to shoot it.

Always stuck with me. . .

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I’m a DP, director, editor, and colorist by day. I hesitate to call myself a filmmaker because I practice these disciplines mostly in the commercial space, but maybe that’s splitting hairs.

In my dreams, where I have enough time to pursue film and music simultaneously (and where that pursuit pays a living wage), I’d love to make documentary films myself and DP meaningful narrative work. One day!

The agency where I work announced in October that they were being acquired. The deal fell through recently, but during that process I had to put together a brief reel of meaningful images from the past couple years of work.

Figured I’d post it here rather than letting it sit on the shelf (though, for the record, I dislike reels. They have a hard time proving anything other than baseline competence IMO). The music is a track called “Unresting” that I composed following the murder of George Floyd. It was released as part of this single series, which benefits @afrorack


I happily worked in the NZ FiIm Industry for 25 years, starting as a sound effects editor and slowly evolving to become sound designer and/or supervising sound editor, working on projects with budgets from $0 through to us$30mill. Happy to offer any advice on what is such an important aspect of film making (preaching to the choir, I know) but two of the most important decisions I made in my entire career was (1) attending Film School and (2) saying no to three years of work on LOTR. No regretsy :slight_smile:


my people! i edit for a living. it’s a bizarre career which i do not super understand. even basic aspects––‘how much time will this edit take to get together’, ‘what is my creative role in this project’, 'how do oscars voters know which movie had the best editing?’, 'where does the money come from?’––remain a mystery to me, despite “making it” as a “full time professional” several years ago now.

i went to college for journalism and didn’t get much out of it, but visiting a friend’s fancy (in retrospect actually pretty predatory and not good!) film school and helping out on a short film they shot on a bolex got the gears turning in my head.

i came out to LA and started editing low budget, unsalvageable scripted stuff and hated it, leading me to non-scripted content. i discovered i had a knack for that, started doing it full time, and about three months after that point was totally burned out on it. through that i started doing promos, first for our show, then for a few shows, then trailers for indie movies.

i hate watching trailers outside of work (a trait i share with every trailer editor i’ve met or heard interviewed), but the process to condense narrative information, evoke a mood, and take people on a little 2 minute ride, is a real creative rush. in short form, the importance of musicality/rhythm in the craft moves from “somewhat abstract” to “basically the only thing that matters.” almost anything could work, as long as you can get the right people to sign off. the best trailer i can think illustrating this, always an inspiration:

i think part of the reason i had a knack for editing in the beginning was my experience with writing electronic music. but now, it feels the other way around. the number of rhythmic considerations in a trailer are almost incomprehensible. cut on the beat? slightly after, so the door opens on the downbeat?, slightly before, so the foot stepping out of the door after it opens lands on the chord change? if i extend it that much, how does that affect the transition that happens 30 seconds from now? does one of these feel more right, or does it feel wrong in a way that draws attention to something important?

i love all those considerations and thought i would be doing it forever. so naturally the next big thing for me was a feature length documentary film that took me right back to doing journalism, and it was by far the most fulfilling work i’ve done yet. shameless plug if you have an HBO subscription already:

i’ll admit part of the reason i’ve avoided this thread is because i feel relatively alienated from much of the discourse going on in “the industry” by other editors. apparently, there is a certain way of editing, a fixed set of tasks which defines what editing is, what tools editors use, etc. people whose jobs are _____ editing, who consequently can never do ______ editing, because they’re different worlds.

i just can’t relate to most of these apparent truths. these days i am about 50/50 between “sizzle reels” (the definition of a sizzle reel varies so much from project to project it basically doesn’t mean anything other than “short mood piece”) and longer form nonfiction. for almost every piece of dogma i follow in my work now, at some point i was doing almost the complete opposite.

this has created a mindset where, when i try to take a long view of my career, it leads to either a), questioning whether “editing” is really what i am doing or if i should be trying to somehow “move up” to…something? or b) that i could just wake up suddenly and realize that i don’t actually have a career because i’m doing a job that doesn’t actually exist.

oh, this is the filmmaking thread? not the ‘my inner psychosis’ thread? i will throw out one technical hot take:

we cut the above film in FCPX. it has some compatibility limitations (exporting AAFs, EDLs require paid third party plugins that basically doubles the price of the app) but in my view it is far and away the best video editing software. i have cut in every major NLE, and for both trailers and longform nonfiction nothing else comes close. i’ve seen how emmy winning editors organize their stuff, i know i’m not doing it wrong. the flexibility/speed/versatility from keyword collections in the FCP browser is absolutely unparalleled. even scrubbing alone, the amount of ideas i’ve gotten simply by mousing over one thing on the way to a completely different thing…

if you’re assigning text labels to individual moments, stringing those moments out into timelines, collecting the timelines and putting them in other broader category bins, you have a duty to yourself to try it out! there is a better way! :joy:


For whatever it’s worth I’m a software engineer and feel the same way. Luckily a big part of the skill set required in my field is learning and figuring stuff out as you go. I definitely see the parallels you’re talking about between video editing and music. I’ve noticed that a lot of good programmers are musicians also. Maybe at the root of it they are both problem solving? Just different points on the continuum from logical to creative.


Could you unpack this some more? I used FCP7 for a bit but jumped ship to Premiere when X first came out since I was already using the rest of the CC at the time. I haven’t used either in a couple years. Now that I’m thinking about getting back into it as a hobby I’m curious about DaVinci Resolve, mostly because it runs on Linux and I’m probably out of the macOS game whenever my current laptop dies as I don’t love where Apple has been headed.

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i hate how much i’m about to write, sorry about this…but of course!

resolve is great––we finished that feature and did exports in resolve. it’s extremely capable on its own, works better than expected with all the software i’ve needed it to, and has gotten significantly less buggy in the last couple of years. the paid version is a lifetime license with free upgrades for the price of half a year of an adobe CC subscription… (probably not a coincidence that the NLEs with the best price:performance ratio are both from hardware companies who happen to also have software, these tools are undoubtably priced significantly below development costs…)

and don’t get me wrong, the fewer hours you spend per day staring at one of these programs, the more marginal the various ideological differences between them become.

my personal drift from NLE-agnosticism towards my current FCPX evangelist stance unfolded over years of staring at all these programs for 8+ hours a day.

i did a full rough cut of the documentary in avid with scriptsync, etc––avid is insanely quick for editing. i really flew, stringing out an entire movie from nothing but transcripts in a month or two. but the cut was 3.5 hours long and it got totally shredded by the director for being boring as hell.

i had to go back to the drawing board and i only had a few weeks to show a polished recut of the first 10-20 minutes of the movie. this is where avid (and other software using the avid paradigm, eg premiere, resolve, etc) starts to fall a bit short, for me.

in avid, you have to be extremely rigorous when setting up your project. for longform nonfiction, bin for interviews, a bin for archival, bin for script syncs, sub folders for various categories of each.

that’s not enough organization, so, commonly you might further break down footage into ‘selects reels’, basically a timeline where you dump a bunch of content that struck you as being a good bit about some topic. you might place markers noting which clips could go with what, or whatever. repeat for every conceivable topic.

there are a couple different routes to take with this, but i have not found one that doesn’t involve:

  • placing too many things in a bin or sequence, making it difficult to find any one thing
  • having too many bins or sequences and not being able to quickly navigate through them
  • thinking something belongs in one category but during editing, realizing it is more closely connected to different category. (you can either live with it or stop working, open up the selects reel, match frame to the original file, delete from the current selects reel, open up the destination reel, insert it at the end…actually maybe the dialogue speaks to one topic but the imagery works better with another topic, what about if we…)

and no matter how thorough you are in that process, invariably there will come a time when you have an idea that calls for a piece of footage that is not in any selects reel. at that point, your options are basically to give up or to spend hours clicking on and scrubbing through clips in search of the thing you know you saw (hopefully what you’re looking for is the thing you believe it is (or else you just spent 4 hours combing through the NBC archival looking for something in the CBS broadcast bin)).

nothing about this makes any sense. these are all just bits of digital content, but this process treats them as if they are physical pieces of media. i assume, when these GUIs were first designed, there was an expectation that the digital representation had to be stored and managed just as the physical piece of media it was representing: very carefully, and only moving when you place your hand on it and move it from one space to another. of all the major pieces of software in this space, FCP is the only one to have been totally rewritten at a moment after this was no longer the case.

when i say “avid is insanely quick for editing”, this is the paradigm that i’m referring to. if you’ve got an assistant editor, a story producer, or some intern to go through transcripts, if your project is set up and organized perfectly and you know where everything is, it’s hard to improve on avid with scriptsync. it’s just that personally i’ve literally never worked on a project where this was the case.

in FCPX, you can tag any subset of any footage with any number of keywords. each keyword automatically becomes what is in effect a ‘selects reel’. and you can do this as you’re watching the footage for the first time, in real time. it’s easy to merge, rename, delete keyword collections at any point, so you don’t have to be too precious about this at all. the entire project panel becomes a selects reel.

it leads to a kind of paradox where you can get organized more quickly, but also you spend more time organizing––because the organization itself is more useful, and you don’t have to do it all before you start editing. you can quickly task-switch depending on what the priority is.

and it’s not just organization, similar workflow improvements can be found throughout the editing process. here’s the video that got me to try FCPX a few years after it’s legendarily problematic launch (skipped to ~8 minutes in where he gets into NLE comparisons):

(to close my rough cut story, i had transcripts for the interviews, but not for the archival video. so i had been using FCPX basically as an organization tool to handle archival footage, and i threw together an achival-driven intro directly with FCPX just to get a fresh thing for the director to look at. when he saw how i was using it, we wound up moving everything over to it and doing the film in FCPX.)


I really enjoy “Team Deakins” chats/podcasts - the Thomas Newman episode is great

Any other film-specific podcasts/channels worth checking out?

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Took delivery of a Blackmagic pocket 6K yesterday. After a decade of Canon, Arri, and RED, was a little nervous branching out for my personal camera. Very happy with the results and workflow so far, albeit on a very small scale with tons of control.


A friend and I recently got it as well with a Sigma 18-35mm and it has been a dream. Looking forward to seeing what you put out with it! We’re still very new to this realm but it’s super exciting having something of this quality to really figure things out.


Even with how restricted things are and how careful we’re being, it’s so nice to do a studio day. Feels almost normal.


hi! i’m an experimental filmmaker and critical maker who teaches cinema and media studies at a midwestern public university. i’ve been inspired by much of the work shared in this thread and thought i’d share some of my own.

i’ve been making both film and video works since i was fairly young but wasn’t really familiar with experimental traditions until my time as a cinematic arts student at university in 2002. i became excited about new and unfamiliar ways that a filmmaker could engage with an audience and the tones/textures/fields of view that might be presented. i’ve since become interested in the ways that audio-visual media allow us to craft new or different ways to ask questions and play with theory, as opposed to becoming boxed in by language and the page. being on lines has been a tremendous help in terms of considering a lot of these questions in more acoustic terms but, of course, like many of you have said, there are quite a few crossing points here with the visual field.

in general, i’m very interested in questions of space and place, memory, and technology. not to sound too pretentious, but i really enjoy thinking about the nature of editing as more of a ‘fold’ than a ‘splice,’ which lets me talk about my work in terms of short form origami if you will.

despite this thread has being a bit more focused on the ‘film industry,’ i thought i’d chime in with a more underground/experimental perspective. here are a few works that also make use of modular electronics:


A couple of years ago, I combined my interest in electronic music and film and made a low budget lo-fi feature film called “LFO” that I wrote, directed and scored. That was a fun ride.


Oh! I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while now. I’ll put it on my list for the weekend.

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wow that firmware update on the op-1 is gonna skyrocket the resale value :wink:

will definitely be watching this and maybe returning with questions, if that’s okay ~ looks like a lot of fun :slight_smile:

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That trailer is great. Is there a way I can see this in the US?

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LFO used to be on Netflix, but I think it’s still available on iTunes and Amazon. If not, let me know, and you can get an online screener link from me.

It looks like iTunes only in the US. I’ll check it out there. Thanks. :+1:

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