Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

I was reading a post by Walter Biscardi during the week about a producer who left the last of his budget to post production so much so that he employed a college student to give him a rough cut of a production that was being submitted to Sundance.

Part of Walter’s post…

“Producer:  He didn’t meet either of the requirements I set for him AND gave me a “finished” project that I couldn’t use. I’ve already paid him for 6 out of the 8 weeks, in the good faith that he’d finish the project per my requirements and continued to send payment after he failed to do so. I know it sucks for him because he really worked all day and night the last week, but this is a business and his actions caused me to lose money. And honestly, better prioritizing on his part would have prevented this entire situation (he spent days color-correcting while raw footage was waiting idly by to be cut into coherent scenes). As an editor, what would you expect from your client if this had happened to you. What do you think would be the fair thing for me to do?

Me:  This is a business for you.  It’s a learning experience for him.   He’s a college student, he’s not a professional editor.   You made the decision to hire him I’m guessing because he was ridiculously cheap.  Therefore you owe him the payment.

Our one hour documentary took 6 days to color correct with a 30 year Colorist doing the work with professionally calibrated equipment in a professional color suite.   So that fact that he took days is not surprising in the least.   I would expect a non-colorist to take at least 2 weeks to color correct a one hour film.   Did you tell him not to color correct any of the scenes until the film was completed?  In fact, why were you color correcting the film at all when you had such a tight turnaround?    That’s another mistake and something that you as a Producer needed to clarify with the editor.

As a professional editor you would not have had anything to submit to Sundance without giving me the final payment so the fact that you even had something to submit is remarkable.   As a professional editor, I would have prioritized the edit to complete the story first and finish second.  But in college you’re all about impressing people with your knowledge of software and effects, so playing with graphics, color enhancement and the like are what it’s all about in college.  So I’m not surprised he wanted to play with looks on the film instead of finishing it first.

All in all, you chose the wrong person when you decided to hire someone in college to do a highly professional job.   As the Producer it is your responsibility to hire the right people to complete each task of the project.   It sounds to me like you did not budget near enough money for Post Production or you would have hired a good professional editor or Post facility.   This happens all the time here and what usually happens is a facility like mine has to come behind and clean up the mess.

Sorry to be so blunt, but you made a very poor choice to choose such an unqualified person to cut a project for such high profile expectations.”

To read the rest of Walters blog :

Well said Walter… I would have told him to enter his production into a place where the sun does not shine, this brings me onto another pet hate of mine, using the wrong equipment for the job…

I got a phone call only today about a chap who was disappointed with his Sony PMW-350 “It does not produce good sound” I was told could I give the chap a phone please, knowing the camcorder very well I was surprised the here this comment till I phoned the chap.

It turns out that his “Bogart” editing system will only ingest one track of sound from his camcorder so there was the first problem solved, it was not the camera at fault but the poor choice of editing equipment that was to blame.

Secondly the way this chap works is to let the sound take care of itself which is why the music is fine but the verbal part of his track is low, also, using one gun mic mounted on the camcorder is not the solution for good speech.

These two stories are very similar in the fact that all the money has been spent up front with little to no thought when it comes to editing the finished production.

When I budget for any job the same money is divided equally to the filming and editing as they are both equally important, it’s all very well getting the best DP to film with a RED ONE if you cant then afford for a 4K editing facility.

Editing can make or break a production it’s where the magic is added, the music is blended, the graphics added the footage graded etc, etc.

You need not only a competent editor but a decent NLE to edit with and if you are prepared to use “Janet and John” editing equipment you get what you pay for.




Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

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