How do you eat an elephant?

posted in: News | 0

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time”.

This week has been about taking one bite at a time as I start to eat the elephant that is editing the documentary.

With the transcripts for every interview I conducted finished (a total of 32,380 words) I spent a couple of days at the start of the week reading through each of these and highlighting the best passages.

This resulted in 164 passages of text I thought I could possibly feature in the movie.

I coded each of these (with the initials of the interviewees and a three digit number) and then wrote some key words from each on flash cards.

The task for yesterday was using our big meeting room table to layout the movie with flash cards; this took several hours, with much shuffling of cards and some helpful input from my team to get the best flow of the story.

Boom! Demographics Are Destiny will be based around the traditional three act structure, with linked themes within each act. Here’s how it looked when all of the cards were neatly piled up:


I ended up using only 60% of the interview passages originally selected, just under 100 flash cards, and no doubt more of these will be cut as the editing process continues.

Once the structure was finalised and interview passages selected, in the correct order, I started writing the ‘script’. This involved copying and pasting each interview segment into a single document, along with the code and space alongside for notes.

The initial drafting of the script was finished at 11pm last night, with around 12,000 words which would give 68 minutes of narrative assuming an average reading speed of 3 words per second. This will require further editing as what I’m keen to present is a concise, captivating and interesting documentary, with minimal waffle.

If it comes to 80 minutes in total of great content, I’ll be happy with that. But I would much rather have an excellent 55 minute documentary than a mediocre 83 minute documentary.

I spent a few more hours this morning reviewing the first draft of the script, changing the order of some segments, removing unnecessary lines and making notes with ideas for additional narration.

The next task is to write a script for the narrator, which effectively links everything together. Once this is done, I’ll record it with myself as the narrator, and then edit a rough cut in Final Cut Pro X. I’ll also add some placeholders for additional content and then hold a feedback screening for the team here, to get their input on the flow of the story before locking this aspect of the movie down and moving into the final editing process.

This will include getting the narration done properly by our ‘star’, the freelance personal finance journalist Paul Lewis, replacing the placeholders with real content and adding b-roll to hide the cuts.

There’s a lot of work ahead to finish this project, but it feels like I’m on track and the back of the editing project has been well and truly broken this week. It’s great to be able to see the shape of the movie now (even if it is only on paper) and I’m chomping at the bit to get editing in FCPX next week.