David Whittet Films Blog
Independent New Zealand Film Production

How Indy is Indy?

Amiri's-Child-Preview-Screening
Feedback from early preview audiences has provided invaluable in refining the final cut of Amiri’s Child

How truly independent can an independent film be?

The joy of independent film making is the creative freedom to follow one’s own ideas and inspiration, free from studio pressure and influence. But can one ever be completely free of commercial constraints?

On the eve of release, following discussion with potential distributors, I have been asked to make changes to Amiri’s Child.

The film maker is particularly vulnerable in the final stages of post production. As I have reported earlier in this blog, editing Amiri’s Child has proven particularly challenging, with critical rewrites and reshoots late into post. After months of work, cutting and recutting to get the structure and pacing right, in the last few days I have at last felt a sense of accomplishment, the film has achieved what I intended, my vision has been realised.

The pressure from exhibitors to make changes, particularly to the ending, was therefore not entirely welcome and my first real experience of commercial forces. After taking some time out to consider the suggested changes, I can see that the difference lies in my desire to make three companion films which are complete in their own right and the distributors requirement for a continuing series.

One suggestion is to follow the modern story telling trend of beginning with the dramatic crux the story, starting with the denouement as a teaser and then showing the audience how events come to reach this climax. It’s a technique we have become accustomed to in TV shows like Revenge, where it works very well. But in Amiri’s Child? I haven’t got my head round that yet!

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the digital age is the ability to make multiple cuts of the film for different audiences. When working on 16mm or 35mm film this proved prohibitively expensive. Now it is so easy to make different versions of the project and try out editing suggestions from preview audiences and distributors - however outlandish they may seem at first -without any additional cost. Other than time! All this does mean many more hours locked away in the editing suite!

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More long hours lie ahead in the editing suite to complete the theatrical release cuts of Amiri’s Child and Rere’s Children.