Every single year, Sundance Film Festival brings artists and audiences together for the premiere of groundbreaking work. This year, we had the opportunity to speak with many creatives and professionals who have worked on some of the incredible work being spotlighted at this incredible festival.
Editor: Ryan Kendrick
Film: Sometimes I Think About Dying
How long have you been in the industry and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Ryan Kendrick: I first started editing around 2003. I started off as an assistant editor in reality television then moved into music videos, commercials, and then eventually film. I pull inspiration from all forms of media. There are talented editors working on all kinds of projects, whether it be a YouTube video or a feature film, and I like to see when anyone has done something creative or found a way to make something new.
What made you sign onto this project?
Ryan Kendrick: Rachel and I were working on another film, I Can Feel You Walking, and loved working together so we were excited about doing a new project together. She was sent a script that she really liked and passed it along. I really loved it so we decided to sign on for it.
How do you know if a film is going to get into Sundance?
Ryan Kendrick: I don’t think you do. You just try to make the best film you possibly can and hope that others respond to it.
Can you describe what it was like collaborating with the other pros (like the director) about feedback?
Ryan Kendrick: Rachel and I like to continually talk about the scene. We don’t too often get into the weeds of “this shot we have to have” or “at this timecode, i think we need this”. But of course, those conversations are a great luxury when you get to work in the same room together. There were a few weeks where we were working remote so we had to figure out a workflow for feedback. Some days we were able to get on Zoom and talk through scenes but there were other days where I would work on sections of the film and then upload them to Frame.io for her watch. I used Frame.io a lot for communicating with the VFX house, the sound mixers and the composer. Uploading the specifics parts that we were handing off and being able to lay Rachel or I’s notes directly next to picture was excellent for eliminating communication breakdowns that often happen with email.
Do you have a favorite editing sequence? If so, what was it?
Ryan Kendrick: There’s a scene in the film where the whole cast is sitting around the boardroom table. It was so much fun to find all moments of interactions between the characters and let their performances shine.
What were some of the editing challenges you encountered? How did you handle those?
Ryan Kendrick: One of the main challenges was incorporating the improvisational scenes into the scripted scenes. On set, Rachel and Dustin made time in the day to do set ups with the supporting cast doing improv of their character’s days. There was no specific place for them to be in the film, they were always just going to be texture and world building. Finding places for those scenes to live and how they would provide what the film needed when it needed it was difficult at times but knowing what the improv scenes were and having them in your mental rolodex as I was working my way through the film was really fun.
Let's talk about your experience using Premiere Pro. What was that like? How did it help you accomplish your work?
Ryan Kendrick: I’ve been using Premiere for around 10 years. This was my 4th feature film using it as my main NLE and I’ve always loved it. On this project, I didn’t have an assistant editor, but I wanted to try the Productions and see how I could implement it into my workflow. Even though I wasn’t collaborating with another editor or an AE, I felt that it helped me work faster. I loved having my graphics, temp VFX, and sound effects all set up as different projects that I could open up, find what I’m looking for, insert it into my timeline and then close the project and keep on moving. Another thing that I really like about Premiere is being able to temp in my VFX shots using dynamic link. Every single project I work on has at least a few VFX shots and it’s extremely helpful for me to temp composites or touch ups or whatever we need to do to make the story more immersive so we can get the scene to where it needs to be.
What advice would you have for directors on working with editors?
Ryan Kendrick: When you’re working on a scene, going down the wrong path until it dead ends can be a great way to discover what the scene is telling us. It can be frustrating to watch an editor cut through your footage in a direction that you know you don’t want to take. BUT I’ve found so many answers for challenging scenes by chasing the opposite. Solidifying the “that’s not right” can open up your scene to “oh, this is what we’re missing”.
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