Heads Down and Working Hard!

We haven’t been very active on our social media and blog platforms over the past month, but we have a good excuse! 

Though the smallest steps has received welcome and much needed funding from grants and donors alike, much of what we do on this film is supported by the generosity of volunteers (myself included)! As a result, we sometimes have to prioritize our focus, and lately, that focus has been working to complete the film.

At the end of July, with support from our knowledgeable and incredibly experienced Story Consultant, Andrea Stewart, I completed an assembly cut of the smallest steps. For those unfamiliar with film-speak, an assembly cut is a long and very rough version of the film where all the really stellar pieces are put together on a timeline according to the script (yes, documentaries use scripts too!).

After almost three years of working on the smallest steps, seeing an assembly come to fruition was an exciting milestone! Just check out my face in this picture I took right after exporting the assembly! If that isn’t unbridled excitement, I don’t know what is!

My excited face after I completed the assembly!

Through the process of cutting together the assembly, I learned something that many multi-hat-wearing filmmakers often learn: The challenge of “killing your darlings”, particularly when you are responsible for editing your own work. After the lengthy process of generating the assembly, I couldn’t bring myself to chop out and reorganize content, so I decided it was time to work with an editor.

I managed to connect with Gisela Restrepo, a brilliant, talented, and activist-oriented documentary director and editor based in Toronto. I sent her my assembly, and together with Andrea and Leighann Burns, we discussed the changes that would need to be made to tighten the film and better tell the stories of our four activists.

As a team, we discussed what was working and what needed to be changed in the next cut of the film.

Since then, Gisela has been working her magic and this week, I drove to Toronto to watch the first rough cut with her. This is my first time working with an editor, so I was nervous about how our review meeting would go. I worried I wouldn’t be clear enough in my direction or that I would be too nit-picky. However, my fears were unwarranted. Turns out Gisela and I work really well together (at least from my perspective!)!

I had a lot of fun watching the film together and I really enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other to resolve story flow issues and ensure clarity for viewers with less knowledge of violence against women. The puzzle of creating a documentary is probably one of my favourite parts of filmmaking and I came away from our review session feeling incredibly energized and full of ideas for additional footage I will capture later this month to enhance the story.

A glimpse of the sticky notes Gisela uses to make the edit tangible (because we forgot to grab a photo together!).

There is still a lot of work to be done to complete the smallest steps, but it is incredibly exciting and rewarding to see the pieces coming together! Every time I re-witness the journeys of the four activists and the stories of resiliency and action shared by the veteran activists, I am reinvigorated to continue my own anti-violence work. I truly hope others will have this same experience when they finally get to watch the smallest steps with me!