Documentary Log

A stream of consciousness from my screen to yours

JZ has been nudging me to start this for a while, it's time I finally jot some things down.


  • It has been so busy recently!! I'm trying to set up the best environment to work on this. Being busy happens, but I really really hated opening up my computer, waiting 3.8 minutes, only for Premiere to crash with my edits. The solution was to simply (finally), get a better computer. Maybe one that doesn't die at 55% and doesn't have physical parts missing. Now that I have it, looking forward to the second wind!!


  • I'm so close to giving the journalists at ProPublica a big fat kiss. Fantastic journalism and transparency with the data they use. And it's open sourced and well organized.
  • I'm really happy about the amount of plot clarity we've developed over the past week. Feeling good
  • The piece we wrote about our final stop was selected as a release piece for the publication! Excited for people to see it for the first time? We need to have game faces on for when it is released
  • A lot of the work so far has been less about filmmaking and more research/storytelling, relative to what I expected.
  • Learned that Apple ProRes 422 is really the bare minimum for what the final render should be.
  • Entering the state where this is nearly everything I think about. Went into this beautiful bookstore today and ended up taking photos of magazine spreads that I think would be delightful motion graphics. I really like that being a restriction for the style of the film, especially because I love making print layouts. One of my favorite parts about Your Name was that every frame could be a painting. I'd like for most of our stills to be passable as spreads.
  • The "I", "O", "," and pancake editing workflow reigns supreme


  • Switching to Premiere was one of the best decisions we've made. I think I beat myself up every time I do something wrong/slow within this project. LS's (appropriate) response to that is "God forbid you learn trying something new"


  • It has been fascinating to see the difference between what I thought would be interesting at time of filming, vs what is actually interesting. Who would have guessed that our conversations in the car would be some of the most compelling parts.
  • I am so grateful for awesome collaborators and talented friends.
  • Our messaging can likely be summed to prioritizing agency, urgency, and fairness.


  • There are a couple of things I will live my life trying to disprove. One is the idea of the frenetic, prodigal lone genius, and the other is that a life of suffering is necessary to make incredible art. For the latter, I think that pain is the source of much generational creative output, but I don't think I personally can make good art if I feel like garbage. This is especially the case when the stuff I want to make is hopeful, optimistic, and presents some grand vision for what the world can be like. I think that uniquely requires fun with friends, physical health, and a stable state of mind.
  • TLDR, what I make is a manifestation of my current state. Hopeful current state = hopeful output. Take care of self and be well.
  • It's been really helpful to have a short playlist to prime my brain ahead of working on the doc. It contains clips from Whiplash, Gilmore Girls, Fog of War, a few Vox explainers, and the Vlogbrothers. The duality of woman is so real.
  • Finished the website and honed in on a design style that is fun for me to work with. Everything I design converges on a similar visual style. It's not self-plagarism, it's style ;)
  • We emailed this type foundry about using their fonts at a slightly discounted rate and they agreed! We <3 Dinamo


  • Awful day for productivity. Felt extremely bleak
  • Finally switched everything from Final Cut to Premiere. The transcript to video editing feature was enough to win me over because so much of our footage is speech. Starting to find my footing by customizing keyboard shortcuts.
  • Learning about the word yakshaving was one of the best finds in recent months. Minimizing it as much as possible


  • Part of the reason I wanted to work on the documentary, was because I wanted to figure out whether I wanted to build great creative tooling or work in climate. I feel very grateful that it has answered the question so well. (Will be working in climate)
  • Now that I know what specific parts of climate I want to work in, it's been a little tough to choose between that, and working on the doc. I suppose too much certainty is a good thing to have.


  • We decided against fancy motion graphics. This happened because I was watching a beautifully animated YouTube video. My jaw dropped in 30 second increments as map outlines glowed and characters danced across the screen. Not a single top comment was about the quality of animations. It was a a wake up call that this isn't a good place to spend our limited manpower.
  • Instead, we're going to do scans, IRL title sequences, and fun projector effects.


  • WELL WELL look who is back
  • TLDR the summer school term was far more brutal than anticipated and I didn't make the time to work on this as much as I wanted to. Before I start my next job, I'm spending ~1 month to get a early version out.
  • My emotions are mixed. I think it's been easily to present an enthusiastic front because this is a problem I care about so so much, but who would have guessed that making a documentary is hard! I feel like it'd be dishonest to not include this in the log.
  • There's so much to do but we are way too stubborn to not see this through. Not finishing the film is not on the table!


  • First syndication piece finished and submitted! It's my first longer form piece of writing. Was honestly a hustle to get done amongst retreat planning, finals, and other coinciding deadlines.


  • Ok I have forgotten to update this. Many threads in action. LS and I are going back and forth, writing pieces for various publications to syndicate with our Kickstarter launch. Writing our thesis in text form has been extremely excellent for revising the nuances of our narrative.
  • Trying to find blocks to work on it has been admittedly tough. Turns out getting an engineering degree is not conducive to doing deep video production work. The workaround I've found for this is to avoid making plans on Thursdays and Saturdays. At the very least, I know those are whole chunks that I can dedicate to editing.
  • Starting to keep a list of people we want to show the film to as we complete it! Exciting!


  • Big day of animating today
  • Time consuming =/= hard


  • Big day for scripting and research. Read 100 pages of Saving Us as part of it. Wrote a couple thousand words


  • I can't believe I've been sleeping on Trim Paths in AfterEffects for so long
  • Roughen Edges + Turbulent Displace are amazing for getting a more natural look.
  • Always connect motion to a separate null object. Lesson learned


  • I think I'm changing my mind on the value of timelessness. I used to be allergic to including graphic elements or vocab that flagged for any era. It increasingly seems to me like that is the wrong take. Looking through archival footage has made me realize that it's actually quite magnetic when media unabashedly dates itself. People want a sense of what life was like then. This falls short at "She's The Man"-esque caricatures of whole generations, but that's more of a symptom of social context drift.
  • More banging my head on the wall because my proxy files unlinked today for no reason.
  • I have to be careful about including more positive things in here. Feeling the need to state that I actually have an incredible time when editing and these are one off situations that throw me for a loop, but are nonetheless marginal on the time scale of a day
  • I got motion tracking, timeline animation, custon MOGRTs, and a halftone effect working!!!
  • Love my J-cuts and L-cuts.


  • If you want to get rid of flickering lights, make two copies of the original clip. Stagger them by a frame each and set the opacity at 100%, 60%, and 30% respectively.
  • It's been a delight to watch other editors talk about their edits via YouTube livestreams. Learning a lot from how they talk about structuring their timelines.
  • My favorite part about working on the film is really how excited I get over niche things. For example, I ate up a 90 minute talk on public polling by the YPCCC. It was a recently compiled roundtable with some of the best researchers in the field, assembling the exact stats that I need for the first 15 minutes of the doc. It felt like a gift from some omniscient research god.
    • I felt similarly when finding the Citizens' Climate Education Vimeo channel. They are one of few climate lobbies to fold in the conservative constituent effectively, and have a bunch of talks by Bob Inglis and Katherine Hayhoe. Everything they post is in the public domain - it is a gold mine.
    • The last few gems are Losing Earth and The Climate Files, both historic chronicles of doubt manufacturing, congressional hearings, and key figures. Amazing reporting from both.
  • It could not feel more true that the more you look for, the more texture you will find. Amazing how the world expands when unlocking new domains of interest.


  • I watched all of BEEF today. Phenomenal editing. Made me wish we shot the film on an FX3 but that's for the next one!
  • Banging my head against the table trying import data into AfterEffects
  • Definitely under-utilizing keyboard shortcuts


  • Editing many hours of the day. I find that I waste most time when I have to wait for something. I usually get distracted and it takes me a while to return to the task at hand. The side quests are usually still relevant to the film, but aren't priorities
  • Need to find ways to prevent duplicate work. Eg. thinking about how to structure scenes when we've already storyboarded it out a couple days prior
  • Feeling highly motivated towards the May 12th deadline. There Is No Alternative.


  • Fiddling around with a physical projector has been really wonderful. It's hard not to miss the more tactile things when editing for so much of the day. Need to figure out how to balance this for future projects.


  • Spent the morning resubmitting a grant application. The staff at the place we're applying to are so kind and helpful.
  • I can't believe there is a whole job that just edits trailers. There is so much to learn from them.
  • Less scripting recently, more rote editing to get a feel of the footage
  • Sound boarding matters SOOO much
  • I think the proper use of podcasts, media consumption, etc when learning a new skill is not to actually teach you the thing. Actually doing the activity is always the best way to learn. HOWEVER, I do think this media is immensely helpful for priming your brain to think about the topics ahead of actually doing them.
    • A friend told me something 4 years ago that has stuck since. People aren't smarter than you, they just spend more time thinking about thing X. They think about it when everyone else stops. Eloquent articulations are just mental paths that have been traced before, either verbally or in writing. I need to find ways to keep thinking about making better films, even when I'm not in the editing chair.


  • My newfound heuristic for applying to grants or programs is as follows: even if I don't get the thing I am applying for, it will have been helpful to apply to this. Either it provided the heightened excitement to ship something, or forced us to crystallize story more succinctly.
  • Found a song for the new trailer!! On the 5th try!! Last time it took FIVE HOURS.
  • I should really start posting updates to social media


  • I've spent the last day looking through Creative Commons footage on YouTube of different climate skeptics. Now the algorithm thinks I'm a hardcore denier and is recommending me weird things
    • Something I'm continuously surprised by is how much agreement there is on the science. We ran into this too when we wanted to find/talk to skeptics. Most people agree on the problem, it's mostly just anxiety about sacrifices from proposed solutions
  • I read Losing Earth for the first time in 2 years. I feel a very different relationship to it now. Tactically, I'm grateful that it is a compendium of some of the most important names, dates, and events in near climate history. Emotionally, I can actually bear to read it without feeling devastated. If small groups can have an outsized making the circumstance worse, maybe (just maybe) small groups can get us out.


  • This is the first extremely productive 8+ hour day I've had for the doc in a long-ish time. I think it was because I had no calls and didn't leave the house. Feeling invigorated
  • I feel a strong obligation to come at this from a historically informed perspective. Going to start reading more about the 70s-90s
  • Brought some order to my file system. Things are at ease.


  • Finished a beta version of the website on the plane home!


  • Being in NY was great but I'm more excited than anything to buckle down and hermit mode.
  • Studied animations today. Watched my favorite videos on 0.25x speed and saved frames to understand their motion graphics. Honestly really fun!


  • Met about the Kickstarter today. It's really nice talking to a third party sometimes to set some skyhooks of things we should aspire to.
    • I think the scariest thing about being really into a project like this is punting subpar products down the road because "you'll fix it eventually". Balancing maintaining taste and shipping things often


  • Added visual elements to script using Shotdeck library. Good for visualizing things


  • Worked on script


  • Worked on script today
  • A bunch of people are finding the Spruce Substack through my personal post. Kind of awesome


  • Finished poster and some initial graphics!! Going for a newspaper vibe with fun halftone, grain, and print grid details. It feels good to be decisive about visual language. This is always the thing that makes things feel real
  • I love AI tools xoxo


  • Today was honestly quite a bad day. Need to figure out how to prevent days like these


  • Extremely generative narrative session
  • I think that it's really funny


  • Just spent an hour learning about aspect ratios
  • We got a few awesome suggestions from the conference this weekend. One of them was doing a Kickstarter launch to help fund and promote the film. Today we met with a friend to help supercharge this process. He really opened our eyes to what can be possible. A little nervous, a little excited.
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