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Workshop day 3 - Learning to Edit

The next day was spent demonstrating the editing package. This again was done using the overhead projector showing the differing stages of importing the footage, arranging the sequences and adding audio. This is the hardest process, because the students did not have computers they could use at the same time.  So this becomes a show and tell process, whereby each stage is demonstrated from start to finish, from editing a film sequences to exporting the test sequences. Then the students in their groups have to sit on the computers we had, we had managed to install the editing program on 4 machines. The students had to then mimic what was shown, with the tutors floating between groups and fielding questions. Not the best method for teaching editing, but after the first 2 hours the groups had grasped the basics.

Normally one person in the groups gets a taste for the editing process, and becomes the main editor, whilst others sit beside them and shouts their ideas, everyone's a director  and these first sessions are great fun, as everyone has their own idea on the way the films should be edited. This interactive process is encouraged initially as it generates a creative atmosphere and people start to see the various ways one story can be told in the editing stage.  The common mistake is that people arrange stories for their own tastes and make the mistake of forgetting the stories are for an audience, and must communicate clearly the topic and be informative.  

The hardest process for a filmmaker is to alter their own ideas on how a story is to be told, and start to recognise that storytelling using film needs to follow set conventions of start, middle and conclusion and that the film must hold the viewers’ attention but also relay the overall theme. The teams showed how they had interpreted the story and gained feedback from each group and the tutors. After one round of showing each group's films and feedback, the groups gained insight into how an audience would respond.

We find that it is important to teach editing before the main filming is undertaken as it provides the learner with a holistic perception of filmmaking and its’ storytelling techniques which essentially dictate the way you film. We found that whilst a few of the participants had an idea of how film were created using layers etc. some did not know.  For example, some participants weren’t aware that you could cut away from an interview and keep the audio underneath whilst cutting to a different shot.

Now the 2 major teaching processes had been concluded (filming and the editing) it was time for the groups to start to develop their major ideas for their mini films. The editing day ended earlier than normal, and we had a parting discussion based on research and planning, and the groups were asked to spend the next day researching and planning for their films. This was set out as tasks:

·         Come up with a topic

·         Designate team roles

·         Get the facts and figures

·         Contact locations/potential interviewees

·         Prepare shot lists

·         Develop questions

·         Pre-visit locations (if possible)

·         Transportation.

One of the main issues that was worrying the teams was the weather. It was July and the rainy season in Guatemala. When I say rainy, I mean floods and rain that started at dawn and went till dusk. Each days filming meant umbrellas and water proofs. When the rain stopped a mad rush to get out and practise ensued. From the practise days in town, the teams had learnt how much sound effects the recording, rain on roof tops, ambient sounds, rain bouncing everywhere. This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as teams had to really concentrate on defining their locations and the sounds which were emanating around them.  

A fundamental mistake all new filmmakers make is they spend all their time or creative shots etc, but think the sound is a given and will work in a noisy market, then in editing the horror hits home when sound levels and voices being recorded with a chicken in the background calling out blend together. Each day the rain was not seen upon as issues, and spirits never waned, apart from us the tutors from England, who were hoping for un-English conditions, having brought over sun-blocker and sun-glasses to at least sneak a little sun-based R&R in!     

The teams presented their film ideas, ranging from environmental issues, independent radio and news, crop growing and problems of sustainable foods. All ambitious projects, all challenging, yet each of the projects had been set up over night by the teams and all requirements asked of them completed.

They were ready and so off they all went without any supervision from the tutors, these  were their projects and they were prepared to undertake their first major assignments. The format that many groups proposed for their mini-documentaries was one that was interviewer lead, having a front person for the films. This style had been discussed in classes, the pro and cons for having a presenter was analysed, myself defining that I preferred documentaries/news pieces that were narrator driven. Yet culturally this format of presenter lead programmes was the style or Guatemalan TV and documentaries, and they wanted to have a style that their primary audience would relate too.  Again we were learning as they were.

 

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