I know what you did Last Summer — by Faith Blackinton

Summer break is a time to go outside and enjoy the warm weather; to leave the technology alone and experience nature at its peak performance. What did I do this summer, you ask?  I watched over 60 hours of film to create more than 25 movie trailers. Now, I’m sure you’re now wondering, “why would anyone stay cooped up inside all day when it’s sunny and 75?” Well, I couldn’t think of a better reason to have done it — I’m a summer intern at Milestone Films, and at the beginning of the summer, Amy and Dennis gave Josh Goldstein, another intern, and myself a list of 13 films that needed trailers for the Vimeo page. Soon, that list grew to over 100 films that Milestone was looking to put on their streaming site. Together, Josh and I watched a total of 52 films. Some films were shorter movies that were less than an hour, while other films were more than 4 hours long. Amy and Dennis wanted to give their audience an option to be able to stream films online, and in order to upload a video onto the streaming site, a trailer needs to be created. 

Creating the trailer was quite a difficult task at first. I would watch the film and while I was watching it, I wrote down times of scenes or audio clips that I wanted to include in the trailer. I have pages upon pages of time codes that I would then have to re-watch and ultimately decide if they should be included in the trailer. I then cut the audio and video clips that I wanted and placed them into DaVinci Resolve, an editing program that was used to create all of our trailers. Next, I would move the clips around until I felt of the important plot points of the film were addressed while at the same time not giving too much away about the film.

I faced many challenges this summer while working at Milestone, and the first one occurred when I first started working here at the beginning of June. Amy and Dennis asked me what experience I had in editing things. I hadn’t had much professional experience, so I reassured them that I was a quick learner. Little did I know that I would soon become very well acquainted with DaVinci Resolve and other programs like Audacity. Dennis suggested that me and the other interns watch a few YouTube tutorials that explained how DaVinci worked, and after watching some, I took off and ended up making around 20 trailers over the course of 3 months. 

After understanding how to use DaVinci like a real Michelangelo (ha, get it?), I had to start somewhere, so I came up with the notion of keeping notes of different scenes or important credits I wanted to include in the trailer. Sometimes it was quite difficult to remember to include these. With the time codes written down, I kept a list with everything I thought would work well in the trailer, and these handwritten — and sometimes less than legible — timestamps enabled me to begin working on the trailer almost immediately after watching the full film. I could just go back and re-watch the second clips I wanted to have in the trailer and make sure it fits with the rest of the project. 

My very messy notes of timestamps for a few of the films.

One might think that creating a trailer for an already made film is pretty easy, but I can assure you that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some films were more difficult than others, and one exceptionally hard one was The Sorrow and the Pity. Generally speaking, the films I watched did not really surpass the 2-hour mark. There was one outlier though, and this was The Sorrow and the Pity. This film is a 4-hour French film about World War II and it was fantastic to watch, but very overwhelming to pick out scenes that I deemed important. How could a person narrow down a 4-hour long piece of history to something less than 2 minutes long? I was about to find out.

Because the film was so long, I made sure to keep detailed notes on where important scenes occurred. After looking through the more than 40 timecodes, I created a trailer with valuable historical information. I thought that Amy and Dennis would want the trailer to reflect the factual tone of the film but boy was I wrong. After watching my first trailer, Amy told me to go back in and find more emotional pieces from the film. After this suggestion, I agreed, and thought that taking an emotional angle rather than a strictly narrative one would be a better idea for the trailer. It took me longer than I had anticipated to find the emotional pieces, but the result was well worth it. After another few days of editing, cutting, and re-editing, I finally liked my final product —and Amy and Dennis did too. This project took me about 2 weeks to finish, and the final trailer ended up being one minute and 41 seconds. 

The more I enjoyed a film, the more fun I had creating its trailer. Some of these films were, The Moon and the Son, Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies, The Edge of the World, and The Wide Blue Road. I’m so thankful to have been exposed to these great works of art that are often and unfortunately overlooked by syllabi at schools across the nation and popular media.

The self-assurance I gained and the many positive affirmations heard by Amy and Dennis helped myself and fellow interns, Angeli Reyes and Josh Goldstein, learn so much from our time here at Milestone. We all have learned not only about editing and post production, but also about how a business is run. I’ve known that I wanted to have some sort of career in the film and television industry for as long as I can remember (it started off as a dream to be a Fallon-esque talk show host, but that dream quickly faded when I realized I could barely audition for my 8th grade play out of sheer terror), and Amy and Dennis have helped me see a whole other side of this industry I did not know much about. Here at Millstone, I was able to watch a plethora of films that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and realize that I actually enjoy watching silent films, among other genres I hadn’t experienced in depth yet. The lessons that I have learned from my summer at Milestone will undoubtedly help me in my future career, and I can’t thank Amy and Dennis enough for taking me on as a part of their internship team this summer and for all of the wonderful opportunities they have given me.

You can check out the great trailers created by Faith, Josh, and Angeli here!