Joi McMillon can now add Academy Award nominee to her list of accomplishments. The talented editor and her colleague Nat Sanders received a nomination for their work editing Moonlight, which is also nominated for Best Picture. This news came while McMillon was attending the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for Lemon, a film she edited with Director Janicza Bravo. Lemon, which premiered in the NEXT category, is a dark comedy in which the main character, Isaac, experiences what can only be described as a perpetual bad day.
Adobe: Tell us about your background.
McMillon: I attended film school at Florida State University before moving to Los Angeles in 2004 to intern for the American Cinema Editors. After I completed my 100 days for the Motion Picture Editors Guild by editing reality television, I segued into scripted TV and feature films.
Adobe: How did you get involved in Lemon?
McMillon: Janicza was looking for someone to edit a short film she was working on called Man Rots from the Head. Her producer previously worked with a friend of mine who recommended me for the project. After speaking with Janicza I ended up working with her on the short film starring Michael Cera. When funding for her first feature, Lemon, came through later that year, she asked me to edit it.
Adobe: What is the premise of Lemon?
McMillon: It’s a dark comedy starring Brett Gelman as the main character Isaac. The film follows the life of Isaac and his constant struggle to survive. Isaac has one bad day after another, and while you hold out hope that maybe he’ll have a good day, for the most part you’re just experiencing his hardships with him. Brett does an amazing job playing this unlucky character. Janicza writes the most interesting characters. Whether they are having good days or bad days, the audience wants to know more about them.
Adobe: How did you and Janicza decide to edit the film with Adobe Premiere Pro CC?
McMillon: Janicza previously cut her own shorts using Final Cut Pro 7. When she was trying to figure out what to use for Lemon, a producer suggested Premiere Pro because she could easily use her Final Cut keyboard shortcuts. It was also my first time working with Premiere Pro. I primarily use Avid, so I did the same thing as Janicza and remapped the keyboard to match my settings from Avid. The learning curve wasn’t too difficult and it took about a week or so for me to get used to it.
Adobe: Were there any features that were particularly useful to your editing process? McMillon: I found it very helpful to be able to stretch a clip out on the timeline to enable viewing thumbnails of each clip. We didn’t rename footage, so I couldn’t see scene or take number, just raw file names. It was great to be able to see a frame of a shot and jump right to it.
I was also impressed with how quickly I could export something from Premiere Pro. We were exporting an entire sequence and were prepared for it to take an hour and a half, but it took about 20 to 40 minutes, which was really fast. That’s a pretty awesome feature in an editing software.
Adobe: Do you anticipate working with Premiere Pro in the future?
McMillon: I recently attended a mixer with the American Cinema Editors and was talking with a colleague about how fast Premiere Pro is. He said it is inevitable that I’ll come across another project where I’ll have to know Premiere Pro. It can be a daunting task to take on a project using software that you don’t know, so I’m glad that I’ve worked with Premiere Pro and will be able to use it in the future.
Adobe: How long did the film take to produce?
McMillon: The shooting schedule was 18 days plus 2 days of pickups. We started editing full time on the project on August 4, 2016 and picture locked January 4, 2017. It was a quick, five-month turnaround and the post-production schedule often gets accelerated when you get accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. It’s a sprint to the finish and the speed of Premiere Pro really helped us get there.
Adobe: How did you find out about the film being selected for the Sundance Film Festival?
McMillon: Janicza told me on my birthday that Lemon was selected, which was really exciting! I’ve been to Sundance before with a short film, so I was thrilled to go back with a feature film.
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