It’s Time to Cut: Short Film #3

 by Kelanie Aragon

Post Production
No deadline, no bueno


Deadlines are important. I did not set a deadline for editing Neurotic Desire and it was a mess. Just like writer’s block, there is such thing as editor’s block.

Assembly + Rough Cut: With this short, I didn’t know where to start. So, I decided to start with the basics: create a project, organize the files and sync the sound.

To my surprise, organizing everything first helped me continue with the more creative editing. The timecode matched the notes and adapted schedule. I could check for exactly what happened in each scene. It also helped that the sound files were labeled. Basically, an organized project means smooth editing.

Fine Cut: For this, I created an editing plan. I look into a project after the rough cut and I mapped out what my plans are to enhance the story through editing, kind of like editing a script. Something new I did when editing this film: I decided to wait 2 weeks after the fine cut to rewatch. If I didn’t take a break I would not see some things I needed to tweak more. 

Pancake Editing: The awesome Vashi Nedomansky is the biggest advocate for pancake editing, and after participating on an Adobe webinar that he was featured, I wanted to try it. What I decided to do was to get my Fine Cut timeline sequence and break it down into new editing sequences based on individual scenes. So I could really make sure the cuts and flow of the film were crisp.


With 7 sequences broken down and the Fine Cut timeline at the very bottom, I could tackle each scene and analyze each cut. I was able to pay attention to every detail instead of editing a whole film at once.

This process made me cut out a lot. Every time I reevaluated the scene, I ended up cutting the whole thing. Allowing myself to cut these chunks kept the integrity of the film’s rhythm. I will say this though, it was a little painful every time I cut a scene that I knew we worked so hard to make. But cutting can be the best thing you do for your film. Don’t be afraid to cut!

Color Correction: Neurotic Desire was planned to be a visually monochromatic film with a splash of red. Since we shot to edit, it wasn’t a big problem. However, there was one scene where there was a significant temperature tone change and to match it with the rest of the film was a challenge.

See the temperature change?

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.05.20 PM

I started off with the Speed Grade tool that matches a scene with any other scene you choose. Then, I did what friend and freelance filmmaker Andrew Lloren did when we were in film school: I attached my computer to a calibrated TV monitor. 

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.19.29 PM


From then on I was able to color correct the reverse shot. Plus, I had enough space on the screen to read the histograms.


Sound Design: Ah. I couldn’t wait for this part, but I needed to make sure everything was good in the cutting process so I could focus on the sound. This film has an interesting dynamic where it’s the same conversation over and over again, but every time something different happens. So, to make it clear to the audience that it was time to “loop” again I used sound as a queue.

Marketing and Distribution
To submit or not to submit?


Neurotic Desire was a surprise for me. So many elements we had to juggle during production paid off during post production. The final product was not perfect, but it was coherent and efficient as a short film. With the large amount of cutting and editing, it ended up being much shorter than planned as well.

I think it’s healthy to have projects that are strictly lessons. We learned a lot from this short film and all agreed that it’s okay not to submit it to festivals. Although we think that the concept is unique, we would have had to do reshoots to get it to festival level.

We still created a poster, teaser trailer, synopsis and tagline for the film (EPK) to practice the art of selling a film.

The moment of truth


Now, don’t get me wrong. Neurotic Desire is not a good film, far from it. But the main lesson is to finish what you started. I am proud to have a complete film. It won’t go anywhere and the only thing people will see is the teaser. As the third short film of this experiment we learned to find balance with our production dynamic. Now that we had a larger crew, it brought things to a new level.

After production I was at my breaking point. I was ready to give up after production was over and this lead to a breakthrough meeting with Ryan and Alyssa. I realized that we weren’t really collaborating to the best of our abilities during production.

As difficult as it was, it brought us all back to the reason we are doing the Sharpen Experiment in the first place. It’s humbling when you can admit that things are not going to get easier. Every short film is a bigger challenge than the one before.




What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s