Ingrid Goes West Makes a Sundance Film Festival Dream Come True
Jack Price always hoped he’d arrive at this moment. As a self-described film fanatic growing up in Texas, he was obsessed with Steven Spielberg at a young age and used to sign his homework with the Jurassic Park logo. He purchased his first screenwriting program as a freshman in high school using money earned bagging groceries over the summer. By the time he was a senior, he was shooting and editing wedding videos in the basement of a Methodist church.
Price eventually moved out west to attend USC film school and has since edited a wide range of material, including concert films for My Morning Jacket and X-Japan, a globetrotting ad campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S6, and even Mandarin and Vietnamese-language narratives.
After a chance meeting with Matt Spicer led to editing a two-minute pitch trailer, the director asked if Price would like to edit his first feature film, Ingrid Goes West. To both of their delight, the resulting film is now one of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival selections in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category.
Adobe: How did you get connected with Ingrid Goes West?
Price: Matt Spicer and I were introduced through a mutual friend from USC. Spicer was trying to raise interest in one of his screenplays by putting together a rip-o-matic trailer, which involves taking clips from other movies and remixing them to tell your story. It was a small but time-consuming project that I almost passed on, but as soon as we began working together we realized we had a terrific creative rapport. This was back in 2014.
While he was still trying to raise funds for that project, we continued to stay in touch and collaborate on several smaller projects. Eventually a different project became a reality – Ingrid Goes West – and Spicer lobbied to have me edit his first feature, despite only having one other feature editing credit at the time. It’s a huge testament to the producers that they supported Spicer’s instincts and took a chance on me.
Adobe: How quickly did the film come together?
Price: Ingrid Goes West came together remarkably fast. My understanding is that Spicer and his co-writer David Branson Smith began writing in April of 2015, and by June 2016 they were deep into pre-production. I started on the project in mid-July immediately after picture-locking a Vietnamese action comedy called Saigon Bodyguards.
Ingrid Goes West was already one week into filming by the time I jumped on board, but thankfully my incredible assistant editor Bia Jurema was able to keep everything afloat while I was gone. She would email me daily project files that I could then import into my master project using the Media Browser. Editing on Premiere Pro made life so much easier in allowing my assistant editor and me to collaborate remotely.
Adobe: How long have you been editing with Premiere Pro?
Price: I was a die-hard Final Cut Pro 7 user ever since college and even became an Apple Certified Master Pro after graduating. That said, I started working with Premiere Pro in 2011 when everyone was migrating away from Final Cut Pro X. I’ve noticed over the past two or three years that a lot more companies have made the transition to Premiere Pro. Today, it consists of about 80% of the work I do.
Ingrid Goes West is the first feature-length film I’ve cut entirely on Premiere Pro, and I can safely say I’ll never go back to Final Cut. The stability of Premiere Pro CC allowed us to keep everything contained within one master project. Despite having literally hundreds of sequences built out, including line readings, selects, and alternate scenes, only a handful of cuts were archived.
Adobe: Were there any Premiere Pro features that were particularly useful?
Price: As a bit of an organizational freak, I love how customizable the markers are in Premiere Pro and how easy it is to locate footage within the project. Morph Cut and Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro are also fantastic tools that allowed us to make the most of our footage and hide cuts in plain sight.
With SmoothCam in Final Cut Pro 7, it has to analyze the entire take first, which could take several hours before you knew whether the results were worth it for just one clip. But with Warp Stabilizer, you only needed to analyze the clip as it exists on the timeline. The motion controls in the Premiere Pro Effect panel and the key frame controls for time remapping were also highly intuitive.
Adobe: Tell us about the editing process on Ingrid Goes West.
Price: Regarding the first assembly, I’d say 60% to 70% of the work was just about preparing to edit. Bia and I literally broke down every scene into line readings, which is something I learned when I worked as an assistant editor for Tom Cross, the editor of Whiplash.
Having every line reading from each take arranged back to back to back allowed me to hone in on the nuances in an actor’s performance and delivery. This organization makes it much easier to pinpoint exactly what needs to change when I sit down with a director, so we can control the tone and emotion of the scene. The last 30% is actually editing the scenes themselves, after I’ve chosen my selected takes for each line and performance.
Beyond the rough assembly, it’s crucial for me to create a workflow where the director and I can explore ideas without having to stop and start because of technical hiccups. Editing should feel like playing jazz, where you and the director can riff on the material without worrying about the project crashing or becoming bogged down trying to hunt for the correct take. I want the process to be as creative, fluid and enjoyable as possible. Working with Premiere Pro helped me achieve a new level of freedom in that regard.
Adobe: What did you like about working with Matt Spicer on this film?
Price: Spicer has a fantastic saying that I take to heart: “Preciousness is the refuge for people with no ideas.” If someone gives Spicer a note on a scene, he doesn’t dismiss it out of hand and refuse to make any changes. Instead, he’s willing to try anything to make a scene stronger regardless of ego.
We were constantly kicking the tires of this film, testing the limits to how lean and mean we could make the story, and surprising ourselves with new solutions that resulted from challenging our preconceptions of what was possible. Even if the suggested solution from a producer or audience member wasn’t the right fix, it allowed us to discover “the note underneath the note,” giving us a better grasp of what the material needed to accomplish.
Adobe: How did you feel when you found out the film was accepted to the Sundance Film Festival?
Price: One of my biggest life goals was to have a film play at Sundance, ever since I learned that Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and Blood Simple had premiered there. My first time attending Sundance was 10 years ago exactly, and as a film fanatic I saw 4 or 5 films a day. I’ve been two other times since then, and it’s no exaggeration to say this is the high point of my life.
As much as I love the process of editing, storytelling is where my heart lies. While I have no idea what the future holds, I can only hope that having a film premiere at Sundance will make it possible to continue making a living telling rich stories with characters as vivid, complex and human as those in Ingrid Goes West.
Learn more about Adobe at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival