Having recently wrapped production on Raspberry Magic, I'm anticipating the first cut in a big way. Editing Red footage has become considerably easier than it was even six months ago, according to our editor, so I'm very happy about that. We basically shot 3.5 terrabytes of footage, then our editor spent two weeks transcoding the footage into a DVC Pro format, which he could then edit. We used Zeiss Standard Prime Lenses, and a Cooke 250mm one day. The footage had a nice look to it, and I was able to watch the takes on a 17" monitor. Many folks tried to persuade us not to shoot on Red in the beginning, but I'm glad (so far) we did, as the footage looks really nice, and we are going to be able to do something interesting things with the color grading. There are so many formats out there right now, sometimes it's hard to know what to choose. For a long time, I really wanted to shoot on Super 16mm, but then I realized all of the film processing would be too expensive, time consuming and I wasn't sure if I could manage with so many child actors on the project. But actually, our children were quite mature and I never really had to deal with multiple takes for this reason. But time was a major issue, especially with the kids. Some days, I did 15-20 setups!! I had to be really fast and know exactly what I wanted out of each setup, which was super stressful. But moving the Red, re-syncing, etc had its moments, but overall, it was fairly quick. It'll be interesting to see how things change/develop with the Red over the next six months, as there are so many features which have recently shot on this camera. It's nice, though, there are so many post houses here in LA that do an incredible job with the color grading and output back to 2K, it'll be interesting.
Lesa Terry and and the Women's Jazz Orchestra from Leena Pendharkar on Vimeo.
I directed this short doc as part of the UCLA World Festival of Sacred Music in the midst of prepping for the feature. A little crazy, but it was a fun piece to do!
I recently completed principal photography on my feature film debut, Raspberry Magic. Many people have asked me how it feels, and I say that it feels amazing, I'm so, so happy to not be thinking at every moment, is it going to happen? Then the next question many people ask is, how did it happen? It took many years and there were a series of many different events that I believe really helped pull it all together. In my past, say, 7 years ago, I graduated from the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with a Master's Degree in Documentary Film Production. I had done quite a lot of journalistic writing throughout my youth, and simultaneously was involved in web/graphic design. Also, I was very interested in social issues, and decided that earning my master's in the documentaries would be the way to go--it combined visual storytelling with meaning, depth. While there, I continued to write for a number of publications, and I also wrote some fiction, which I had been doing already. I also interned in documentary film in many different capacities--assistant editor, researcher, etc. Then I made my thesis doc, Dreaming in Code. It played at some festivals and got some press. Then, I got a grant to make My Narmada Travels. It played in some festivals, won some awards, then aired on television. But around that time, I was burnt out on docs and feeling like I really wanted to expand my world. I didn't feel like docs were my calling, like I could keep doing it. So, I worked as a Production Coordinator on a film called Happily Even After. I loved that experience. I loved narrative filmmaking, everything felt so succinct, clear cut and I loved that everything was planned, there was so much room for creativity. Also, by that time, I had been writing screenplays and I realized that this was my calling, I loved it. So... I ended up becoming friends with some people from the film and shot my narrative short, This Moment. That film screened in some festivals and ended up being purchased by some schools. Around that time, I had written Raspberry Magic. It was a mess, my writing was all over the place, but it was a finalist for the Sundance labs, and I had a few people who thought it had potential. I kept re-writing and revising it, and wrote a few other things in between. A few agents liked it, but said it was too small and too indie, and that I should find a indie producer to help me. It took years of hustle, struggle, stress and self doubt, but finally, we got the film in the can...
They say that in the process of making a movie, it gets written three times, once when the script is actually written, then when it's shot, then when it's edited. So now, we enter the next phase of the filmmaking process, the post production. This is the part, for a director, that can sometimes be tough because you realize what you did well and what you didn't do well. You see how the movie is really going to look and feel. Overall, I'm excited to see how it comes together, but of course, I have the usual anxieties of whether I got enough coverage, if the locations worked and if I got the performances I wanted. Another question, of course was, how will this edit together overall? As I said, this whole process of shooting out of order is a bit nutty, but as you're shooting, you really start to feel how how the movie will cut together, especially as you remember what you did scene to scene. In the edit, as the film gets written for the third time, things will be moved and shuffled around in ways I might never have imagined. But really, at this stage, it's about putting the images together to mine the dramatic goals of each scene. We'll see how that goes!