10 Things I Learned During Post-Production

Throughout the filming process of "To All The Little Girls," I have been keeping a journal of tips that I would give future student filmmakers when embarking on their own creative journeys. At the beginning of my own, I watched countless YouTube videos, read blog posts, and soaked up as much information as I could. While there is a lot of valuable information out there, I want to give you tips and tricks directly from a young female filmmaker and address the questions I had that went unanswered.

Today, I am going to give some insight on the post-production process. This, in my experience, was the hardest part of making my documentary. Here are ten of the biggest things to keep in mind when preparing and executing this phase of filmmaking.

1) Overshoot every scene.

You can truly never have enough b-roll and ask your interviewees enough questions. If you're shooting something scripted, shoot scenes multiple times and from multiple angles. It is always better to have an abundance of footage than not enough. This is critical if you want to avoid reshoots and do voiceovers.

2) Organize your footage as you go.

Organizing your footage into folders and labeling them accordingly will make the post-production process a heck of a lot smoother. The way I arranged my footage was filming location --> scene --> interviewee --> whatwasdiscussed.mp4.

For example: 

Hofstra University --> HRC Interview --> Hillary Rodham Clinton --> OnwardTogether.mp4. Arkansas --> Clinton House Museum --> Angie Albright --> WhyStorytellingIsImportant.mp4

Each filmmaker will have his/her preferred way of organization, but it is important that you figure out a system at the beginning that makes sense for you and whoever else is involved in the post process.

3) Edit your footage as you go.

Directly after you film a scene, upload it to all hard drives and online sources. Then plop it into an editor and fix the sound/video quality, split it into appropriate sections, and render. Make sure to always keep the original footage and file it correctly. This will save you a lot of time come post-production.

4) Upload your footage to multiple places.

Make sure your footage exists in multiple places to avoid losing it if one fails. Personally, I used an external hard drive and Dropbox. I liked having a physical source and an online source. Both are worth the investment if you want to be sure your footage is protected.

5) Bad footage is better than bad audio.

If you can only invest in a camera or a Lavalier microphone, invest in the mic. These days many filmmakers shoot with just their iPhones. Footage can always be spruced up, but it is much, much harder to fix bad audio. Invest in audio before you invest in a DSLR camera. You won't regret it, especially when it comes to the post process.

6) Don't handle all aspects of the post-production process yourself.

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Bring in friends and willing participants to help you take on the post-production process. It is very daunting to take it all on yourself, and you will quickly get stressed out if you don't have other people on board. For example, you can task somebody to handle the title/closing sequence, music, audio, etc.

7) Don't binge edit.

Binge editing will not only harm your film: it will also stress you out. Take breaks during editing. Let your creative brain rest for a bit so you can truly give it your all. You will be thankful in the end that you did, for yourself and your project.

8) Announce a release date halfway through the post-production process.

I could not have foreseen the travel/scheduling/filming setbacks that I was going to have when I set my release date six months prior. For smaller projects, I would wait until you're halfway done editing to pick a release date.  That way you are not rushing at the end and can deliver a product on time that you're proud of.

9) Keep your investors/audiences updated via social media.

People love getting sneak peaks, especially if they're invested in the film in some way/shape/form. Update your social media and keep folks in the loop throughout the post-production process. 

10) Stay true to your vision, but learn how to take criticism.

Bring in folks that you can trust to give you honest critique that comes from a place of wanting you and your film to succeed, but don't be afraid to stand your ground if you disagree with a creative criticism. There's a healthy balance between these two aspects, and you'll find that throughout the post-production process. As a young filmmaker, especially if you're a woman, you're going to be tested, but never doubt your abilities and vision.

All in all, the post-production process can be overwhelming, but by going into it with these ten things in mind, I hope it goes as smoothly as possible.

Shooting with "Little Miss Flint" in Flint, Michigan.

Shooting with "Little Miss Flint" in Flint, Michigan.

Rebecca Brubaker