What I Wish I Had (But Didn’t) On My First Feature Film by Keith Sutliff

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: When you plan on shooting it [Keith’s next film], what do you think you will do differently? What are some things that you learned from say if a location that fell through, etc.?

Keith Sutliff: Well, I would have hired more people, I mean ideally. I think on the budget, I needed more people. Bigger crew, more people in pre-production helping and in post production. So definitely more people. That’s really about it. The bigger the team, the bigger the army you have, the easier it is for you as a producer on the film. So you’re not juggling too many hats. You have people helping out. So essentially just hiring more people and delegating these duties and jobs to these other people.

Film Courage: Do you like to do a lot of stuff yourself? You know there are certain people, they love to be really hands-on.

Keith Sutliff:  I do. I do. I did a lot of editing on this last one. I had an editor but I did a lot of editing on THE MASON BROTHERS. My editor and I were writing it but I did do a lot of editing on it. That was very tedious. I edited a lot of stuff like the trailers and some little things, promotional stuff.

I think editing is…I don’t say I hate the most, but it’s very tedious and time consuming out of all the things. That’s why I told my team “Hey this next one, there’s no way.” I’ll edit maybe the beginnings and may help out on the trailers, but obviously I’ll let someone edit the rest. I’ll give them the notes on how I kind of want it. On this last one I was doing like, maybe 35% of the scenes I was editing and like the other 30-35%, I was telling my editor what I wanted and stuff. I let him edit like 35% and it was a lot of dialogue because there were some complex scenes in there. What were like bad scenes, something like that where it had to be edited a certain way I had in mind because I thought of my shot list (what I came up with my cinematographer) that just from studying films for so long, it’s hard to explain to somebody like “Hey when someone gets tortured or stabbed in the movie, the camera needs to flip to this angel over here to show this reaction of the actors face and hide the knife or whatever.” Instead of explaining that, it’s kind of easier just to do it because you’ve seen it in films and how you want the shot that you developed. So it was a lot of hands on with that, but for the next one it’s too time-consuming. I’ll let someone just do it and I’ll correct them with notes or whatever.

THE MASON BROTHERS film premiere (Keith Sutliff second from the right)

Film Courage: What are you using to edit on?

Keith Sutliff: Adobe Premiere. It’s a good program. My editor had a big personal computer. I know a lot of people edit off of Macintosh computers, but he had a huge PC station. That’s what we edited on and a lot of it was done with Adobe.

Film Courage: And you taught yourself how to use Adobe Creative Suite [a.k.a Creative Cloud]?

Keith Sutliff: Actually I learned it in my filmmaking classes. We started editing on everything in Adobe. From all the things we shot we learned from the computers in the lab how to edit from the Professor. Alex Pickering is a great professor from USC and he teaches the course in East LA. He was teaching how to edit and we just learned from the courses and materials and the guides. They had these little CD-roms and kind of walk you though stuff. That’s what I learned and I just went from there.

Question for the Viewers: What was something you didn’t have on you last film but wish you did?

Watch the video interview on Youtube here







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