GADZOOK FILMS Producing independent film in Seattle, Los Angeles and beyond.


Never Give Up

Sounds like a pretty terrible self-help title right there. It's true, of course, but it belies the battle some creative-types struggle through to get their work out. I wouldn't say that I "never gave up" in connection with my latest release but I certainly had long periods of forgetfulness and apathy.

This is "Unfulfilled" which was shot for our typical $0 back in January, 2009. It was, at the time, one of the more technically advanced shoots I produced. We had a jib, we had real-life film lights (not the worklights I normally use), we had an HVX-200 which was top of the line at that point all on loan via the director. Shooting took most of the evening, and I recall we finished fairly late.

The problems began in editing. A scene where the protagonist, played by GadZook stalwart Erika Godwin, calls a friend for assistance fell flat. Shortly after making that note the editor's (at that time also the director) computer overheated and changes were never made. The original files were backed up prior to editing which was a relief, but with the majority of work inside a fried computer the decision to start anew was not an easy one. To make matters worse the project was edited using Premiere Pro on a PC and so, even if I had it, I'd need another computer with Premiere Pro on it in order to save out an edit decision list so I could edit on my Final Cut machine. Confusing... but more a logistic nightmare than anything. I didn't have a working PC at the time and certainly didn't have Premiere.

Years went by. Every year I'd make the resolution to go back and re-edit the whole thing. I'd open up a project file, edit about 3 seconds and promptly close Final Cut. The task of re-editing the whole thing myself seemed daunting. And every step I took into sorting the files made me feel even less sure. We were missing cutaways like crazy. It's an easy thing to miss when you're shooting. But those long takes were killing the pacing. And the project gets shut down for another year. A section works here but not there; project closed. Music doesn't work right; project closed. Line of action is crossed and there's no way to cover; closed.

Then, a few weeks ago, I realized I'd said "No" far too much. I needed to devote time to the project. If I gave it at least a half hour every night after work I would at least feel satisfied that I tried. So I began trimming. Adjusting. And gradually my concern over getting it perfect subsided and I had a new drive to simply get it done.

I can point out all the things I found wrong and learned from in this experience. Many of them are things I learned over the 4 years since we originally shot "Unfulfilled." The best thing I got out of this was just letting go. It's not so much "not giving up" as it is "not giving in." Make shit. Some people might even like it. Keep making shit until you don't make shit anymore.

I'm quite proud of the way "Unfulfilled" turned out and I don't mean just the film - but the journey getting to this point. It's opened my eyes. Expect more from me in the near future.

Posted by Dom

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  1. Next up: Chick Flick, the director’s cut!


  2. It’s on the list! Just after “Turkey & Nathan.” I really need to re-organize these hard drives.

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