"Kill Your Darlings"

A phrase I internalized two summers ago during my filmmaking class at Dartmouth was to "kill your darlings." This simple phrase that traveling filmmaker Andrew Mudge shared with us perfectly summarized his experience as an independent filmmaker who had to both shoot and edit his feature length film.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, it means, in terms of filmmaking, that sometimes you have to let go of things you hold dear. Things such as impeccable shots you spent hours trying to capture, interviews that took forever to schedule, scenes you had dreamed of filming and having in your final outcome.

Being the director, the cameraman, and the editor is a challenge indeed. Killing your darlings is incredibly counterintuitive and quite an emotional process, and I understand now why this phrase is so cruelly fitting for the process.

It's been just about a year now that I have returned from China, and I find myself coming back to the editing board again and again (over the past year) faced with the horrendous brick wall of what can only be described as writer's block for cinematography. It's a wall that has taken months to scrape through with a rusty spoon, one that stands right between where I am and where I want to be. The gap, they call it. I don't know what's worst--its existence, or my hyper acute awareness of it.

Luckily I have been learning slowly, as this footage has been growing stale in organized bins for so long, chipped down milliseconds at a time, that I do just need to push the delete button and Kill My Darlings.

To describe my process so far? It's a spattering of edited clips and interviews, assorted sporadically across nine different timelines, telling pieces of beginnings and ends of sections of the film. I feel like an archeologist trying to reconstruct a fossil of some unknown creature. Or a web developer in the 80s ;) Miraculously, I awoke at 3am a few nights ago with the revelation of the perfect introduction to the film, one that seems to have opened the floodgates for the rest of the film. Makes sense, as I have always been unable to write a paper without the perfect introduction first.

My goal still remains the same: to finish before I graduate, to get this up on the big screen in Loew in the Visual Arts Center so that I may debut my first short film to my friends and family! It's a dream I intend to realize. But first I have to kill the rest of my darlings.

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