Things are still coming together for Abandoned Allies, which is always exciting. Last week we finally transferred the Super 8 footage with the gracious help of Skip Elsheimer of A/V Tech Geeks. Walking into the studio with that digitized footage was a feeling of complete excitement. Skip has been so patient and helpful throughout the process, and I am so grateful to him for his help with our film. If you have films to transfer, please send your business his way and tell him I sent you.
This week we've been adding the new footage to the timeline in FCP, ever so slowly. The process is something like this: You watch the rough cut of the film, looking for places where B Roll would improve the story visually. Then you skip over to the folder where the Super 8 footage is stored and try to find a clip to go in that spot. Or vice verse: you find a great clip, and then look for a spot to place it. It's relatively tedious, but I'll not complain about it! I'm so excited to finally have that footage digitized.
My opinion of the state of the film is daily improving. We want to make the best film we can make, given our current constraints (budget, time, quality, etc.). When I watch the film, all I can see are my own failings: audio, color quality, visuals. Those mistakes I've made during the past two years feel like they stick out so much, but I know talented people that have promised to help make improvements. This may be entirely too honest to state such things, but I desperately want it to be a great film to watch. The story is such a great one, that I hope I may remotely do it justice.
The first few minutes of the film seem to be really solid, to me, at this point. Footage looks good, the content flows well, and the visuals are getting better and better. I think the content is in an order that will make it easy for an audience member to process, and it's supported by visuals that are appealing and entertaining. The transitions at this point are still in need of improvement, but I think the first few minutes of the film are pretty solid right now.
The overall story has shaped up quite well, too, but there's always more work to be done. I have finally come to terms with a finalized outline, something that has changed over and over and over again. And over and over and over again. Our three main points have always remained the same, but the order in which we support the points kept changing based on my interpretation of how an audience member needs to receive the information. Each time I show the film to someone new, I get better insight into how to support these points. What information can be left out? What information should be added back in? What's confusing and needs to be clarified?
We want the film to be something that honors and respects the people we depict: both American and Montagnard soldiers. We want it to be relevant / appealing / entertaining to several different generations, too, which can be tough. Something that the Vietnam War generation understands is something that my generation might need explained in detail, for example. So how much information is too much, and how much information is too little?
The balance between these two extremes is what I battle regularly. Ultimately, you can only include so much information, and people interested in more can watch the DVD extras or go online to learn more. That thought gives me great comfort when I start to stress about leaving out pertinent details that have helped me form my own opinions. But, I have digressed...
We're putting the Super 8 footage in place now, and hopefully will have more footage to add soon. If you know of someone who has Vietnam War footage we can use, please let me know. Or, if you're interested in researching archives to find what we need, that's helpful as well. We have a zero-dollar budget, so finding clips we can legally use for very little or for free is a challenge. I saw one clip of an explosion that was particularly helpful, but it was a few grand to purchase. I'll keep trying other routes before making such an investment.
The journey continues, my friends! Thanks for all of your support, encouragement and interest in our film. We look forward to sharing it with you in 2010!