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First-Hand Adventures of a First-Time Filmmaker, Part 6: Post-Production and the Discomfort Zone

1 Jun , 2000  

Written by Lorre Fritchy | Posted by:

Lorre Fritchy dives into post-production of her documentary 'Sandy 'Spin' Slade: Beyond Basketball.'
I have spent the last two months pushing my "Sandy ‘Spin’ Slade: Beyond Basketball" documentary forward; I did not join Céline Dion and Garth Brooks in pseudo-retirement. From tape logs to press kits to Philadelphia, I’ve been immersed in the waters of post-production.

During this time, I gave thanks for my left-brain writing experience with business jargon, corporate compositions and marketing documents. This enhanced my ability to write the press kit for this project. The press kit or media kit is used for a variety of reasons: sending to news outlets, giving to potential sponsors, and submitting to film festivals. Since I am seeking additional funding, I don’t have the luxury of die-cut folders and the like. So I created a packet with a glossy folder, which has a tasteful photo label (printed in-house) on the outside stating the title, a picture of Slade spinning, and contact information for MasterPeace Productions. (Press kits without a title or anything on the front cover are of no use to anyone. Be sure to convey who you are and what you’re doing at first glance). The meat of the media kit consists of every press release about the project as well as a biography of the subject, production notes, b/w copied photos, a project synopsis, and a page on MasterPeace Productions itself, all on company letterhead.

I didn’t have long to think about the massive tape logging and paper edit that awaited me before I was whisked away to Philadelphia to attend the Women’s Final Four with Slade herself. A business trip, not a shoot. The Final Four is to college basketball what Sundance is (was?) to independent film. It is the ultimate triumph. Everyone who is anyone in basketball, from coaches to professional ball players, attends or tunes in to this frenzied weekend, where purity of sport coexists mightily with creativity of marketing. Two major things happened there: I got a few names and numbers, and I finally found a suitable title for the spinumentary.

Now, some people don’t bother much with titles, and some even leave their projects UNTITLED! <Insert filmmaker’s horror here> I am a title gal. I believe there is a perfect title for every project, story, film, book, video, what have you, even if it takes a while to conjure it. I was not thrilled with my previous working title, "Spinning A Basketball, Shaping a Dream." For one thing, it sounded like a long-winded version of "Hoop Dreams," which is not what I’m going for. I was spitting it out all around the Final Four, every time thinking, "It’s a lot, but it’s not saying anything." Although it had the overall feeling, the words just did not work. My executive producer, A.J. Dimaculangan of Double Diamond Associates, first suggested putting Slade’s name in the title. It is a profile documentary, after all, and her stage name is catchy and intriguing enough. Knowing how humble Slade is, I knew she’d cringe at having her name be such a Big Deal. Therefore, I’m sure my subconscious ruled that option out early and kept me from seeing things objectively — if you’re doing your project solo, sometimes it helps to talk through even the smallest detail with another party.

Bottom line: I had the Who and What in the title, but I couldn’t get the REST of the story in there. I poured through dictionary and thesaurus, I used the IdeaFisher brainstorming software, I wrote it out a thousand ways trying to find the right word. I was adamant about keeping "basketball" in the title; the importance of keywords in this age of Internet searching is critical — the target audience will be surfing the net and I want them to find this video. During the Final Four, a group of us sat in a hotel room, casually spewing the worst possible titles. I kept saying, "But it’s not ABOUT just the basketball…The ball is just how she gets their attention to deliver the

MESSAGE…It’s MORE than basketball…" and so on until the words "Beyond

Basketball" tumbled forth from my lips. "Sandy ‘Spin’ Slade: Beyond Basketball" — it puts the question in the viewer’s mind, "WHAT does she do beyond basketball?" while deemphasizing the awkward b-ball word itself. I get my keywords, I get my overall feeling, and I even get alliteration. Perfect!

At the Final Four, Sandy introduced me to several basketball business people; I will not conceal my joy at the fact that Sandy has a few contacts within the industry. I handed out a few press kits and learned more people to contact for funding or in-kind donations. One sports magazine said they could not give me money, but they might be able to donate ad space when the spinumentary is ready. Another organization even proposed the idea of world-premiering the documentary at a gala event! Ever the skeptic, I don’t get my hopes up until it happens. Still, it is a boost that these people understand the importance and potential of this film. Slade’s contacts may even play a part in who I bring on as a narrator. Check back for the next installment to learn more on that front.

You never know where help might come from. Do not discount anything if there is even a slight angle with which to get someone’s interest. Are there related trade shows or conferences you can attend where you might find interested parties to help move your film forward? Fund-raising and publicity are a lot more creative than the corporate world might have you think.

All my grand wisdom might give you the impression that I pick up the phone easily, or walk into a room full of executives and ask for money without hesitation. Uh-uh. You have just crossed over into the Discomfort Zone. None of this comes naturally to me. What helps me push through the lonely, doubtful moments we sometimes face as filmmakers and often face as human beings is my belief in and passion for the story I’m telling. That it means something. That it teaches something. In college, we used to joke that what we were writing, playing, filming "is not gonna cure cancer." Ten years later I’m asking, "Why not?" Positive stories are cures for cancers of the spirit. If that doesn’t help me pick up the phone and step out of my discomfort zone, nothing will. You have to believe in what you’re doing.

However it happens, whether it’s executive producer A.J. offering occasional guidance and a fresh eye, or the subject herself giving ideas for potential sponsors, it is you, the filmmaker, who has to face the challenge. It is your vision, your responsibility, your game to play. But if you push beyond your limits and keep the story close to your heart, it will also be your ultimate triumph.

If you've missed any part of 'First-Hand Adventures,' please check out the complete series below. All Parts to the Series: Part 1: Starting Out Part 2: On the Set Part 3: Wireless lavs.  Editing choices. Airport redtape. Time code hell.   Must be your first film. Part 4: Burnout -- Hang in There Part 5: Back in the Spin Part 6: Post-Production and the Discomfort Zone Part 7: Happy 'Adventures' Anniversary Part 8: From Gigabytes to Soundtracks Part 9: It Ain't Over Even When It's Over -- From Music to Film Festivals Sandy 'Spin' Slade: Beyond Basketball is now available on video at