Friday, October 01, 2010

When is a Film Finished?

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So here's one of the problems of the digital era: when is a film finished?

In 2009, my co-filmmakers and I shot and edited Hoop Springs Eternal in five days as part of the International Documentary Challenge. We were disappointed the film didn't make it to the finals (we made it to the finals in 2007 and 2008) but were basically happy with the film.

Apparently, the Doc Challenge folks liked it enough to distribute it via SnagFilms, which is great.

But after living with the film a little, I decided to give it a recut. I took out almost a minute, changed the order of a few sequences, and essentially fixed issues we just couldn't address in the short edit time of the Challenge. I liked the recut better, and started submitting it to film festivals.

The recut version then screened at Olympia Film Festival, All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival, and Coney Island Film Festival (just this past Sunday).

Still, there are a few things I'd change in the recut edit. So is this film really the version on Snag? The version that made it to festival audiences? Or, if I polished it a touch further, would that be the "final" version of the film? Could we go and re-interview the film's characters (Loren Bidner and Miss Saturn, Jenny McGowan) in 2012 to see what's changed -- and revise the cut further?

Since digital work is inherently changeable, can we revise and revise and call it the same film?

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