Gavin Hood – Practical Advice and Inspiration from Eye In The Sky Director

Gavin Hood is climbing the ranks in the film industry, having directed some popular movies with tenacious morale.

I first noticed him after watching Eye in the Sky, which is about the disputes of modern warfare. I was thoroughly impressed. I don’t remember the last time I was on the edge of my seat for the duration of an entire movie. When I realized he’s a fellow South-African, I was intrigued even more – I have to admit I’m a bit biased…

The more I found out about him, the more reasons I found to acknowledge him and his work.

Gavin Hood is the kind of filmmaker who is in the business for the right reasons.

He is driven to create current and applicable content which is entertaining at the same time. When asked why he chose to direct Eye in the Sky, he commented: “It’s completely current and it’s about what’s really happening in modern warfare and it has elements of black comedy and farce that are grounded in real life.”

His choice to cast Helen Mirren (the role was intended for a male lead) as Colonel Katherine Powell was very strategic. He didn’t want to box the movie in as a war movie for guys.

He recounts saying, “I want it to be a movie about war but that it’s a conversation starter for men and women about a subject matter that I think is very topical.”

He’s also a filmmaker who works extremely hard to get where he is right now. When asked to give advice to aspiring filmmakers, he shared, “Unfortunately, […] there’s this notion that you can become famous and rich very quickly. It’s a curse I think. […]

The way you make it is by getting good at making films.

There’s no shortcut; just study the craft and practise and hopefully you’ll eventually connect with an audience. And if you don’t connect with an audience, you won’t have a career in this business.”

Hood with Barkhad

It took a while for him to gain international recognition. Even though he wanted to be an actor, he followed his father’s advice and “took his big mouth and studied law” though he only practiced it for 4 months. He was already 30 when he actually started studying screenwriting, cinematography and directing.

Although he knew he was always going to go into film, he doesn’t regret having studied law, instead he recalls, “it trained me in terms of thinking and story and conflict and moral and ethical questions.”

He continually emphasizes the importance of making films in order to connect with your audience. He himself is drawn to stories compelling him to think. “I personally, with my background of being a lawyer and growing up in the turbulent times of the 80’s in South-Africa, I tend to be drawn to […] stories that somehow challenge me in a moral or ethical way.

“Don’t tell me what to think, but present me with something morally or ethically challenging.”

He started small by making short films; The Storekeeper was one I remember seeing in Middle School. It left a big impression on me, not only because of the dilemma it presents, but because it was so close to home. It was a South-African story which could be understood universally.

This is another thing I appreciate about him; he bloomed where he was planted. He started where he was and then expanded, instead of limiting himself to the small South-African film industry.

Tsotsi was his breakthrough film which garnered him an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006 – a film I highly recommend by the way…

It was again, an authentic story, but one exploring universal humanity.

“I really believe that we focus so much on differences and not enough on similarities. Most people, on a very basic level, have surprisingly similar needs. The need for companionship, dignity, love. And when these basic needs are not met, you find individuals developing a very distorted sense of the world.”

By now, he has other popular movies under his belt like Ender’s Game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Rendition.


I celebrate people like Gavin Hood and believe there are many more like him out there who we simply need to discover.

Fellow filmmakers and actors, let us strive and work hard to tell stories worth telling. Stories that challenge people in their thinking to fight passivity.

Gavin Hood, I thank you for being an inspiration and persisting with a tenacious and creative spirit – all the best to you for your future projects!

Written by Annette Lange.


Aliens: Screenwriting Principles From a Perfect Film

Written by Brenden Bell.


If you’ve listened to me talk about movies, you know how much I love James Cameron’s Aliens. I gush over it endlessly, describing in detail the first time I watched it; sitting on the edge of my sofa, yelling at the TV, throwing couch cushions in frustration. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and has set a high bar for future films.

I took my love of Aliens to the next level this past year, as I showed it to my screenwriting students as a film that exemplified various story principles I was attempting to get across to them. This film isn’t accidentally engaging; it was built purposefully and intentionally.

I call it a perfect film, because it is. It accomplishes everything I think a story should.

Here are a few of the screenwriting principles I pull from watching Aliens endlessly.


  1. Ellen Ripley, All-American Woman

I’ve seen countless notables herald Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley as the greatest action hero of all times.  This isn’t said as some “feminists’” attempt to level the playing field between male and female representation in cinema.

It’s said because it’s true; Ripley deserves her place among other great, male action heroes like Batman and Indiana Jones.

Her heightened status as a character is for countless reasons, and a great deal of that is to do with Sigourney Weaver’s fantastic, Oscar-nominated performance.

Much of it, however is by design in the writing. She’s given many of the same attributes that a typical male hero has; she’s tough, smart, level-headed, snarky, and resourceful. What really elevates Ripley from other heroes, however are the competing “lacks” that are given to her.

The film opens with Ellen Ripley being found in cryo-sleep, right where we left her at the end of the first film. The twist? She’s been asleep for over 50 years, and her daughter has passed away.

The screenwriter has created a “lack” in our character; something that is missing in her life, which will be brought to completion by the end of the film.  Ripley has a daughter shaped hole in her heart that needs to be filled once more.

Ripley finds the hope of completion of this lack when she finds the young girl, Newt; the lone survivor from the xenomorph attack on LB-426.

Simultaneously, the screenwriter establishes an opposing “lack” early on. Ripley has been left scarred and broken by her previous encounter with the xenomorph. Her fear of them is something she will need to face again by the film’s conclusion.

The story is based around these two “lacks”, and its structure will force our character into a situation where she must decide which to hold on to; her fear of xenomorphs or her need to be a mother.

It’s “lacks” of this nature, particularly lacks that could be in conflict, that hook people into a story. It causes people to identify with the dilemma and care for the lead character. Without this element, your film will be dull.

Look at Godzilla (2014), an utterly forgettable film for several reasons. One of which is due to the fact that we established none of these things in the character of Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), or at least not well. The writers attempted to give him opposing lacks or  a dilemma by missing his wife and having relational tension with his father. These opposing lacks almost worked, that is until his father dies abruptly in the film, removing any tension in his character. As a result, for the rest of the film I couldn’t relate with Ford. As a result, I could’ve cared less about the outcome of the film.


2. The Plot’s The Thing

Many would call the plot of this film “formulaic.”

This is probably because it is extremely formulaic.

Read The Writer’s Journey or Save the Cat and you will see that the plot of this film fits rather neatly into either of these film structures or “beat sheets.”

This is a large part of the reason why I chose to view this film in my screenwriting class; it’s easy to see the familiar structure, and how it can be used well.

Personally, I don’t think formulaic is bad, especially if it’s used as effectively as James Cameron does in this film.

We have our character’s competing “lacks” or dilemma and now it’s the writer’s job to create a plot that will force her to face both and make a choice.

There are two important choices our character has to make throughout the film, and they are both found at the “act breaks,” or the end of the first and second acts of the story. The end of the first act is our hero’s decision to go on the adventure in the first place. In the film, this is found when Ripley decides to go to LB-426 with the Colonial Marines.

The second choice is crucial; your entire story should be building up to it. The plot leads up to this point beautifully in Aliens.

Throughout the second act, Ripley is put in situation after situation where she has to face her fear of the xenomorphs and build her connection with Newt. One of the most brilliantly tense scenes is about halfway through the film when Ripley and Newt are locked in a room alone with a face hugger; a smaller version of the final act, training Ripley for the end of the film where she has to protect Newt from the largest xenomorph there is: the Queen.

As the film’s plot moves forward, the marines are picked off one by one, the base’s reactor is set to blow in less than an hour, the xenomorphs overtake their base, and Newt is kidnapped and taken to the hive.

Ripley is left alone and with a choice…does she leave because she’s afraid, or does she enter the hive and reclaim her daughter before it’s too late? Ripley chooses to go back and save Newt on her own, in spite of everything against her, and in spite of the fact that it’s where all of the xenomorphs live.

This shows the audience that not only has she once and for all overcome her fear of xenomorphs and broken their hold over her, but that she has found the completion for the daughter-sized hole in her heart.

The whole plot is built around the character of Ripley facing her fear, and getting what she needs to grow. If you want to tell a compelling story that matters, you should do the same.

Let’s compare this climactic moment to Godzilla’s. By the end of the film, the character of Godzilla is inconsequential to Ford’s journey and vice-versa. When the other monster (not Godzilla) attacks the city at the end, Godzilla stops it. It was by far the coolest part of the film, but it meant nothing to me. I hadn’t built an emotional connection to Godzilla, but Ford. However, Ford’s character is detached, passive and unrelated to this event, and I was left wondering why Ford’s character was necessary to the story at all.


3. Make Me Care

Think about films that genuinely frightened you or made you feel something. How were they able to accomplish that?

Or the horror side of things, it’s almost always because they were successful in making me care about what happens to their characters. In Aliens, the most tense moments by far were Newt was in danger.

I think this is for two reasons. The first is simply because she’s a child; any scene where a child is in danger is automatically more intense for me (I’m looking right at you Jurassic Park). The second is because the filmmakers succeeded at their main job; they made me care.

I identified with Ripley being scarred from her past, and losing a significant relationship in her life. Seeing Ripley and Newt’s relationship flourish throughout the film, made it that much more nerve-wracking when Newt was kidnapped at the end of Act 2. It’s not just because she was a child and she was taken, it’s because she was the key to Ripley’s salvation and without her, Ripley is back where she started, only worse.

I knew that Ripley wanted a daughter, and when that was in jeopardy the film’s tension went through the roof.

The world itself wasn’t at stake, but Ripley’s was, and that’s what made the last 30 minutes of Aliens so intense.

We had to watch Ripley face her biggest fears head on and overcome them to get what she ultimately needed, a family. Without this element of family and relational completion this film would’ve lost all of its tension.

Let’s compare the final act of this film to the final act of say, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Literally, an entire nation might be destroyed by the villainous Ultron (for some ambiguous reason that is still very unclear to me). It should feel like everything is at stake. However, there wasn’t a single tense moment in the entire final act. The world was at stake, but none of the world’s of our characters’ were.

If the final act isn’t about a character overcoming a “lack” in order to save everything they hold dear being in total jeopardy, then your story isn’t going to be as thrilling as it could be.

The heart of this film is what elevates it beyond a run-of-the-mill, action film.

It’s easy to tell a story that no one cares about; it takes a great storyteller to tell one that is as engaging and engrossing as Aliens. It’s a long journey, becoming a great storyteller; it helps to glean from the greats.


To kick off my film school experience back in 2012, all of the students and the staff of the school went to see The Dark Knight Rises at the theatre. On our way back from the theatre, we started talking about why superhero films are so popular, and it made me think why we are drawn to these larger than life characters.


I am sure there are many reasons people go to see caped heroes on the silver screen; escapism, fun, spectacle, identifying with characters that feel like outcasts and misfits…


I wanted to dig deeper than that.


I once watched a video of a professor giving a presentation on the significance of heroes in wild west literature. He spoke of how people seem to have a fascination with characters that take matters of doing the right thing into their own hands and save us all from evil. He then went on to explain how he believed that these characters even have inspired and shaped America as a nation.


The western genre was the most popular genre of the first half of the 20th century much like superhero movies are today.


As I was watching the interview, I realized that the prominence and influence of this type of character must have carried on into comic books and superhero movies.


These types of characters exist in many forms of art and literature spanning hundreds even thousands of years and many cultures, not just the American.


In superhero movies these types of characters take center stage.


During The Great Depression of the 1930’s, the first superhero (as we know them) was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.


He is an alien, brought up in the heartland of America, has godlike powers and stands up for truth and justice.


His name is Superman.


The Great Depression caused a loss of hope in the lives of many, and I believe one of the reasons why comics featuring Superman became so popular during this time was the hope this man embodies.


He is a character that willingly uses his great power to protect the public and sacrifices himself and his desires for the greater good. Superman became the archetype on which pretty much all other superheroes were created or modeled.


One of my favorite quotes from a superhero movie is from Spider-Man 2. Peter Parker is passing by Aunt May’s house and sees the neighbor’s kid helping her move a few things.


Aunt May tells Peter that the kid wants to be like Spider-Man. This is during a time in which Peter has given up being Spider-Man and it is one of a few key moments that makes him realise that he must embrace his heroic duty once again.

“Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero. Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer.“


I believe one of the reasons we need heroes is because we need someone to look up to; someone who can teach us to be courageous and self-sacrificing in the face of adversity. Someone who brings us hope when we have none. Someone who can inspire us to live virtuous lives.


These stories, at their best, affirm, teach and inspire.


I also believe that we are drawn to superheroes, because there are times where we need someone to save us.


Some people believe that mankind is able to solve it’s problems entirely by its own prowess and will.


I don’t actually think mankind can save itself. I believe that we are so drawn to these selfless, god-like characters, because we need a hero.


Whether you agree with that statement or not, you cannot deny that there are seasons of our lives where we need others to save us to and to help us stay alive.


Think of the first couple of years of your life; you were a helpless being entirely dependent on your parents for your survival. It is a completely natural and unavoidable part of your life. It is by design, and I think this carries into the rest of your life, as well.


My point is that we are drawn to superheroes or heroic characters in general because we have a natural and innate desire to be saved and to become more like the hero who saves us.


In the first half of the 20th century these heroes wore boots and stetson hats, rode horses like the wind blew and knew how to use a six shooter.


Today they wear masks and coloured tights.


I don’t think we will get tired of hearing stories of caped heroes who come to our rescue any time soon, and if we do, they will just appear in a different form, in a different costume.

Hello Ladies!!

Last time we met the most recent male additions to our staff team here at the Initiative Production Company, and this time we get to meet the female additions to our team.


Hailing from all over the world Annette Lange (South Africa), Connor Sassmannshausen (USA), and Stephanie Kirouac (Canada), they all have brought their passion for excellence in everything they do to our office everyday and inspired us with their creativity.


Alrighty let’s spend some time getting to to our most recent female additions to our staff team!!


“Hello!!! Let’s go around and introduce yourselves. Also share something you like to do in your free time.


Connor Sassmannshausen: Hello! I’m Connor Sassmannshausen from Indiana in the USA and in my free time I love to write!


Annette Lange: Hello! I am Annette Lange from South Africa and in my free time I like to imitate accents and learn new languages.


Stephanie Kirouac: Hello! My name is Stephanie Kirouac. I am from Quebec, Canada and in my free time I like to take walks!


Fantastic!! I thought we would start with some ice breaker, “get to know you” type questions. Ready?


Here we go!


What is the first thought you think of each day?


SK: I’m Tired!


CS: No!!! Sleep come back to me!!!!


AL: Am I going to drink tea before or after breakfast?


What would you do if you had 1 million dollars?


SK: I would keep some money so I could travel, and then I would buy a really nice house somewhere. Like a vacation home in the Swiss Alps or something. Like a get away place. And then I would take my family on a trip, because we never go on trips together.


CS: I would travel, and visit as many countries as I could.
AL: I would go to Norway with my mom, because she has always wanted to go there. I would finally have money to all the dance classes I have wanted to. Then, I would travel to Colombia and Russia and to the rest of the world.


(Annette Lange)

“I love that we are all friends and pursuing excellence in filmmaking and acting.”-Annette Lange


What sport would you most want to be a part of, in the Olympics?


SK: Gymnastics!!! I have wanted to be a gymnast since I was born. I studied for a year, but it just got to be too time consuming.


AL: I would do synchronised swimming or diving.


CS: I would be security, because I don’t have the desire or dedication to give my life to any one sport. But if you’re security, you can just live vicariously through it all.


How would you describe one another in 3 words/phrases?


CS: I would describe myself as creative, protective, and creative again! I would describe Annette as compassionate, dedicated, and understanding.  Steph is passionate, determined, you know where you are going.


AL: I would describe Connor as organised and dedicated to her writing (which I admire) passionate about film, and smart.  I would describe myself as positive, caring and responsible. I admire Steph’s honesty, the way she initiate things, and she has a really big heart.


SK: I would describe Connor as passionate about whatever she does, independent, and a lover of writing. Annette has a big heart for people, she is dedicated in what she does in like a secretive way where you never know or see what she does, and she always puts others before herself.  I would say I’m passionate for what I’m passionate about and if I’m not passionate about something I don’t really care, I am considerate of those around me, and I think that I’m a good friend.


What is your favourite part about working in The Initiative?


SK:To be able to create and push myself to do more and go out of my comfort zone.


AL: I love being here. I love that we are all friends and pursuing excellence in filmmaking and acting. I love the fact that I am here without any previous qualification. I love that I am trusted with things that I have no experience in.


CS:I love working with people who are passionate what I’m passionate about. Everyone here wants to make movies, and that is what I want to do.


What part of filmmaking are you most focused on right now?


SK: Right now, I’m focusing on editing and how to get good shots quickly with a camera. Which I hope will help me make good documentaries.


AL: What I’m working on right now in my acting is developing a backstory of a character. I have also been getting interested in story and writing.


CS: I love writing and creating characters. I want to direct at some point, and so I’ve been figuring out how to communicate my ideas better to others.


(Connor Sassmannshausen)


What is the thing you’re most excited about for your time here in the initiative?


CS: Working alongside other writers and seeing the editing process of The Out of the Woods Project.


AL: I am excited to get more opportunities to act and be a part of a team of actors who will push each other to excellence.


SK: I am really want to use my time to advance my skills and start new projects. I don’t really know what that is going to look like but I’m excited!


What do you want to leave The Initiative with?


SK:I want to leave with the knowledge to be a filmmaker centred around good storytelling, and using the camera well.


AL: I want to walk away with confidence in who I am and in my acting. I’m also excited to walk away with more people skills.


CS: I’m sort of just along for the ride. Because I originally planned to just come out for the 3 months to film The Out of the Woods Project and then decided to stay for 2 years. So we shall see!


Well that does it! Lovely to get to know you all better and I hope you have a great rest of your day!!”


So there you have it! Hopefully now you have a better understand of our team here at the Initiative Production Company. I hold you follow along as all of us here at The Initiative continue to create and explore the wonderful world of independent filmmaking.


(Stephanie Kirouac)

Meet Us

Recently We had 6 people, 3 Men and 3 women from all around the world join our team here at the Initiative Production Company so I, Matthew Schmidt, being an inquisitive  people person, thought I would take it upon myself to interview them so you all could get to know them a bit better.


All of our new staff are a passionate, dedicated and creative bunch, who strive to give the world excellence in film.


I thought for this week I would start with the 3 men of the group.


They are as follows:


Connor Campbell is a filmmaker from Ontario, Canada. He loves all things sci-fi and is passionate about technology.


Keaton Evans is an Actor from Anchorage, Alaska. He has a passion for all forms of storytelling and the universe.


Micah McWhorter is a Filmmaker from Flowery Branch, Georgia. He is full positive energy and has a passion of and for creating beautiful cinematography.


Without further ado here is our interview!!


Matt: Hey Guys! How are you doing today?


All: Excellent! Fantastic! Thanks for having us on the show!!


Connor Campbell: My name is Connor Campbell and I am from Canada!!


Micah McWhorter: My name is Micah and I’m from from Flowery Branch, Georgia!


Keaton Evans: Thanks again for having us on the show here! My name is Keaton and I’m from Anchorage, Alaska!


Picture of Keaton Evans

“When my time is done I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project run with it and have it be something people will watch and enjoy.”-Micah McWhorter


M: What is the first thought you think of each day?


MMW: “How long can I lie here in bed until I have to pee?”


CC: Mine is similar, but it’s “how long can I lie here before having to get up and start the day?”


KE: “Good God, I’m glad I’m alive!”


M: What would you do if you had 1 million dollars?


CC: I would live in a penthouse probably in Manhattan.


MMW: I would buy a cabin in the woods, on a mountain somewhere, and invest the rest in gold or the stock market or both.


KE: I would buy a piggy bank worth $999,999 dollars and put one dollar into it!


M: How would you describe one another and yourself?


CC: I would describe myself as analytical, Keaton is logical, Micah is an adventurer.


MMW: Connor is decisive, Keaton yearns for knowledge, I am an adaptable dreamer.


KE: Connor is particular, I am metaphysical, Micah always wants to make films.


M: What sport would you most want to participate in the Olympics?


Picture of Connor Campbell

CC: Soccer, volleyball indoor, or beach.


MW: I got 3. I like wrestling, so wrestling would be my number 1, then the high dive and gymnastics would follow.


KE: First fencing, followed by long distance running, and water polo.


M: What is your favourite part about working in and being a part of The Initiative?


CC:  I like that it isn’t just about where the top people run everything, but that we are all a part of the vision.


MMW: Our ideas are valued and heard; that we can pitch an idea, create it, and help each other with their ideas.


KE: That we are able to get our ideas out into the world and have people that will support us in that.


M: What part of filmmaking are you most focused on right now and interested in in the future?


CC: I really want to explore every aspect of storytelling, starting with writing and finding my own style; specifically in regards to directing and cinematography.


MW: For right now, I’m really focused on cinematography, and I want to learn more about directing. Right now, i’m really focused on lightning and composition. How to tell a story which each shot and movement that you pick.


KE: I want to learn to express ideas I have in my head, whether that be through writing or acting. I really want to find the artistic beauty in storytelling.


M: What is the thing you’re most excited about for your time here in The Initiative?


CC: That I’m here finally doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long and being involved in the film industry and it’s exciting to see how much I can learn here.


MMW: I am excited to see each other grow in their passion for filmmaking, and I’m excited for my self to learn as much as I can. I want to remain humble and work well with others.


KE: I’m excited to grow and to see growth in others. I’m excited to have a better understanding of art and other people.


M: What do you want to leave The Initiative with?


CC: To have the confidence to make something good. To have the confidence to make a feature film.


Picture of Micah Mcwhorter


MMW: When my time is done, I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project, run with it, and have it be something people will watch and enjoy. I hope I will be able sell myself as an artist, where people trust what I create will be quality; creative and unique.


KE: I want to have discipline in my art and my life. Being confident in my ability to create and be an actor in the industry. To not be afraid of failure or trying. I want to walk away with a larger capacity for imagination and creativity.


M: Thanks guys! Have a good rest of your day!!


So there it is!! I hoped you enjoyed meeting half of the recent additions to our team here at The Initiative. Be sure to continue to follow along with all of our journeys’ here.


Keep your eyes peeled for the second half of this interview with the women that have recently joined us!!

Editing For Dummies

written by Brenden Bell


Editing was not something I went into my film school excited to learn about. I thought of it as that thing you had to do in order to complete your movie and not much else.


Imagine my surprise when my instructor informed us all that the edit was your last rewrite for your film. I had never thought of it like that before. I leaned forward, eyebrow raised and hand firmly under chin, and I whispered, “Go on.”


If you have read any of my blogs or know anything about me, you know I love writing and think of myself, however foolishly, as a writer. My love of writing, and being casually anal, transitioned seamlessly into editing.


I became an interpreter of the footage in front of me, the author of the final story.


Since editing can seem overwhelming, I thought I would give you some tips in order to start your journey. Once you get into it, it can actually be quite good fun.



  • Watch Tutorials


No matter where you’re at in your skill set, watching tutorials is always helpful. If you’ve never edited anything together and don’t even know where to start, looking up free tutorials on YouTube have been designed just for you. Of course there are plenty of tutorials that cost you dollars, which are great as well and give you a more in-depth look. I like the ones that give me footage If you’ve been around the block a few times, you’re probably already pro level at finding a YouTube tutorials for your specific situation.


  1.   Watch Everything


No matter what you’re editing whether it’s a short film, interview, or wedding video, watch every bit of footage recorded. Even watch the clips that think are only mess ups. There are moments in clips that can work for your movie or video that you didn’t think would unless you had watched everything. Watch all of your clips before importing as well, so you can label them appropriately (if they’re digital clips).


  1.   Be Casually Anal


If you look at my bedroom at any given moment, you would laugh at the idea of me being an organized person. When it comes to organizing my footage for editing though, I like to say that I am casually anal. The more that you can organize your footage the better. I always create folders/bins/projects (whatever your non-linear editing software calls it) and organize my footage accordingly so that when I need to find something, I’m able to reference it quickly.


  1.    Tell a Story


This is probably the most important point in all of the points of this article. Once you’ve organized your footage in an easily accessible way, you need to start creating your peace. No matter what your making, you want to tell a story. Whether it’s a narrative, a commercial, an interview, or an artsy fartsy impressionistic piece on nature, you want to tell a story.


  1. Find your own rhythm


Any time I’m editing something together, I want to have a certain feeling or pacing depending on the emotion of the scene, situation, or piece. I try and find a song that I feel matches the tone of the scene or video, and I edit to the song. When I was editing a short film about a young man dealing with the grief of losing his father, I listened to violin music in order to get in the head space of long, slow shots and editing. However, I listened to more frenetic/experimental types of music when editing a scene from another film where a character is having a stroke. Listening to music helps me decide the tone and pace of a piece. The only danger is that you can grow too attached to the music you have playing underneath the scene.


  1. Kill Your Darlings


Once, I was editing my final project on my film school, and as I watched my edit back I knew there was something wrong. I called one of my instructors over to have him watch it, and he told me to edit out a lot of my middle section, because it wasn’t working and slowing my story down.


I protested, but he simply placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to kill my darlings.


I did. I got rid of parts of my story that I loved dearly. The end result was much stronger because of it. Sometimes in an edit (especially if we wrote or filmed the piece ourselves) it’s easy to get attached to an idea that isn’t working. Be ok with killing your darlings, because our work is often more rich and clear as a result.


  1. Make Bold Choices


I was editing a short film, and the beginning wasn’t working for me. It was taking too long to get into the action of the story as it was scripted. I made a bold choice. I started the edit of the film 1/3rd of the way into the script, reinserting Act 1 later in the story as a sort of reveal.


I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but after watching it back through, the story came alive to me in a way it never had before.


If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something wild or unorthodox. You never know what’s going to work until you try it. In this day and age, undoing is just a command-z away.


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by editing or to lose heart. By following some of these simple guides, I hope editing can become something that is less intimidating and more fun.


Editing is truly the final rewrite of your film, have fun with it and make is a good one.

Visual Metaphor’s



A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else”


Here at the SDF/SAS we believe in the power of the image.

Film, unlike almost any other medium, has the ability to take an idea and express it visually. This is called visual storytelling.

This can come across in the composition of a frame or in cutting between two different images that tell us something.

This allows a film to communicate a message to us on a visual and almost subconscious level.

In an interview with Denis Villeneuve, director of Enemy and Sicario, he said that he did not use the best shot he had ever filmed in Prisoners because it did not serve the story they were telling.

What ever you do with framing and compositions it must build to the story you are telling, not just be cool visuals for cool visual sake.

Lets look at how others use visual language.

Here’s how some of the films of 2015 used composition:

Here is a bit of the history of composition in cinema and how its used:

Here is how film can use subtle metaphors and references, such as in Children of Men:

Now it’s your turn.

What will you do with film? How will you communicate using visual metaphors?