Hitting the Messy Middle

I'm stuck in the messy middle of editing the smallest steps! Image © Valentyn

So if you don’t already know, I am an emerging documentary filmmaker. the smallest steps is my first feature and as such, I have found myself growing a lot with this project. I’ve also been experiencing some significant growing pains, and this month, editing has been one of them.

I never imagined editing would be a sticking point for me. Before the smallest steps, the documentaries I edited were all under 15 minutes in length. Then, when it came to client videos, those projects have been between 1 and 3 minutes. The point is, I am used to eloquently cramming a ton of information into a very short amount of time (so when it comes to ‘killing one’s darlings’, I’m like a psychotic butcher leaving no spare part attached…unless a client requires a spare part to be included, but that’s a different story…). However, this talent is becoming a hindrance with the smallest steps.

via GIPHY. Me chopping apart my edited creations…

I kid you not, every time I have forced my boyfriend to watch a scene I spent all day crafting, he always provides the same feedback: There’s too much information all at once. Let it breathe!

Gaaaahhhhh! It is incredibly infuriating! So much so that I even had a minor meltdown the other day – okay, okay, let’s call it what it really was – A tantrum! (My poor boyfriend…). Who knew editing could be so damn emotional?

I have heard other filmmakers talk about the messy middle when it comes to crafting a film. I think this is similar for many artists, in film or no, but this is the basic creativity cycle:

Art © Kaile Akina-Schiess

Right now, I am smack in the “This film is shit. Everyone will be disappointed. It will never come together. I suck.” phase of the creative cycle.

I know it’s just a process I have to slog through, and that, in the end (maybe a few months out from finishing the film) I will be able to look back and say “Hey, that turned out pretty well.”

In the meantime, it would be awesome to hear from fellow creatives on how you’ve stayed strong through the messy middle! What have your reassuring go-to’s been? Let me know in the comments!

Nicole Bedford