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No More Excuses: Make Your Own D*amn Movie

I have been resistant to learning about video editing for a long time, always making the excuse that I was a writer not a filmmaker. But I am prying my eyelids open to view a whole new world of possibilities just by acquiring a few video editing skills. There have been too many signs to ignore indicating that video is indeed an asset. Besides, all the cool people are doing it.

I have a friend whose job is running a YouTube channel made up of user-generated content. It’s so popular that Dreamworks bought it. Another journalist friend, Lisa, segued from magazine writing to TV news producing, and is now making documentary films. To hear how passionate she is about crossing over to the filmmaking side is definitely inspiring. An upcoming ASJA writers’ conference is promoting its video storytelling panel indicating that authors should be making their own book trailers.

Okay, okay, I’m listening.

And then there is the LA Times journalist, Alana Semuels, who made a video to accompany her article about me when she came to the American Gothic House. (Here’s the video.)

The newspaper now mandates that the writers make their own video stories, and even sends them to a 3-day workshop to learn the skills. I looked into taking the workshop but realized I would have to also invest in the HD camera, editing software, and the various other accessories (headphones, microphone, tripod, lights, etc.) if I were to be serious about putting the curriculum to use after the course.

Instead of making more excuses, I got busy.

I have an iPhone and a Mac computer that came with the iMovie software. I know sixth graders who are making their own movies. So I channeled my inner 12-year-old and spent Saturday afternoon and evening watching online tutorials and fiddling around with the program. I learned how to add stills and zoom in and out with the Ken Burns effect. I added a music soundtrack, even fading in and out. I also layered in sound effects, editing for length and volume. I included opening and closing titles. And the next thing I knew, I had made my very first movie.

It’s not going to win an Oscar, but I was happy with my first attempt. Happy that I overcame my resistance. Happy that I opened up my eyes to this new world. I signed up for the iMovie class at my local Apple store. And after that? I just may sign up for that 3-day workshop after all. Because filmmaking and writing are one in the same in their objective: to tell a story. But the biggest lesson I learned by taking this baby step toward using a new medium was that instead of being overwhelming or frustrating — in the way learning, say, German was for me — it was just really, really fun.