Hitting the road with singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo in OLIVIA RODRIGO: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film).

Image source: Disney Plus.

OLIVIA RODRIGO: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film) follows the Grammy® winning artist as she takes a familiar road trip from Salt Lake City, where she began writing her triple-platinum Geffen Records debut album “SOUR,” to Los Angeles. The film combines live arrangements of her songs, intimate interviews, and never-before-seen footage from the making of the “SOUR” album.

We got an inside look at the making of the film from editor, Nia Imani, and associate editor, Jamie Garland. They share why Premiere Pro and Frame.io were the right editing tools for this project, how they collaborated during post-production, and their greatest inspirations. Continue reading to learn about their creative journeys.

How and where did you first learn to edit?

Imani: I taught myself how to edit freshman year in college. I was in a beginner film class where no one knew how or wanted to edit, and the challenge intrigued me. So I just taught myself through tutorials and trial and error, and then began to love it. I worked my way through undergrad, then film school editing everything that I could, and then when I graduated and landed a job as in house editor for a Parkwood Entertainment, I was suddenly immersed in a whole new world of fast paced music and documentary filmmaking that truly shaped my flow and way of being as an editor.

Garland: I first learned to edit in high school working on a school assignment to make your own documentary. Later in college after I realized I would like to edit as a career I purchased Creative Cloud for myself and taught myself Premiere Pro, and from there just picked up more and more skills along the way.

How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?

Imani: After my bins are organized, and multicam sequences and string outs of all the footage and audio are made, I like to immerse myself in the footage and catch a vibe. I watch/listen to everything, make markers and selects, and then take notes. I love to make music pulls prior to editing so that I can watch footage with different sounds underneath. I find it really helps my mind explore all the possibilities of what can be built.

Garland: I always like to watch and do selects of all the footage first and try to organize based on what seems most relevant to the project. For some documentaries, organizing footage by decade can be just as valuable as by subject matter. Doing this lets me start to notice recurring themes or interesting images that stand out immediately from the footage.

Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why it stands out to you.

Imani: My favorite moments from the film are the archival clips of Olivia and Dan in the studio crafting her album. Being able to catch the making of her song “Brutal” and to see that song writing play out is pretty special because it’s from an extremely rare point of view. My favorite parts of the film are the more intimate moments like this because we are able to see a different side of Olivia Rodrigo.

Garland: A favorite moment from this project was getting to work with the GoPro footage of Dan and Olivia in the studio making the album. Working with archival footage is always really fun for me and I enjoyed getting to help Nia, our editor, dig through it all to find the best moments.

 Nia Imani Premiere Pro Timeline.

Image source: Nia Imani.

What were some specific post-production challenges you faced that were unique to your project? How did you go about solving them?

Imani: Challenges that we faced during this project were mostly dealing with organization as we had so much footage and were sending things back and forth from many different sides of the country. This made relinking things a little tricky. My team had to be very diligent about constantly updating to a master project so that it did not disrupt the edit, but also so that we all continued to be on the same page. Also, it was quite strange to never meet the team in person until the premiere of the film!

Garland: One of my biggest post challenges on this was actually re-learning Premiere Pro. Figuring out a new workflow and keyboard for Premiere was a bit of a learning curve at first — luckily Premiere was easy to pick up and transition into!

What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were they the best choice for this project?

Imani: Because I am most comfortable editing in Premiere Pro, that is what we primarily used on this project. It’s the best software to work with in a team and it was very easy for us to send sequences back and forth to each other while still maintaining a master edit.

Garland: We primarily used Premiere Pro and Media Encoder. Our editor Nia was most comfortable working in Premiere so we chose to work in it for that reason.

Do you use Frame.io as part of your workflow? If so, how do you use it and which features do you find most valuable?

Imani: Our team used Frame.io as part of our workflow daily. It was really helpful for my assistants when sending over sequences, assets or links and for me to send over cuts.

Garland: We used Frame.io daily! We used it on set to upload dailies for our post team to pull down until we could get the footage back from location. We also used it to transfer project files back and forth, as well as posting versions of the edit for our director and producers to leave notes on the video.

What do you like about Premiere Pro, and/or any of the other tools you used?

Imani: What I love about Premiere Pro is the ability to customize my workspace and shortcuts. I like that any editor can find their fit within the program and that files/sequences/assets are easily shared amongst teams.

Garland: I really enjoyed the mobility of the timeline in Premiere Pro. The ability to drag clips easily left and right lends itself better to how my brain processes a sequence.

What’s your hidden gem/favorite workflow tip in Adobe Creative Cloud?

Imani: When editing music performances, I love to be able to nest sequences and use the multicam to toggle between performances and view them all side by side quickly. It’s the best way to be able to see everything at once.

Garland: Since I still feel like I’m learning Premiere Pro, I’m not sure if I have the most hidden gems to share, but something I found very helpful was the new Productions shared workspace. It was great to be able to be in the same projects as our AEs in order to drop sequences quickly to each other.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

Imani: I’m very inspired by Arthur Jafa and the way in which his workflows. His films all feel like jazz to me. Watching Love is the Message changed my world and made me want to dive into working with archival footage in a poetic way. Aside from the work of Ulysses Jenkins (whom I also love), I had never seen cinema that felt like an archival rhythmic meditation and that defied all rules.

Garland: My creative inspiration is Hayao Miyazaki. Though his work is in animation, his ability to communicate emotions and craft a story that is always unique and incredibly human always makes me excited about creating films.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?

Imani: The toughest thing I’ve had to face in my career is deciding to step out on my own and become a freelance editor. It was a scary but necessary leap into working for myself and allowed for my scope and editing world to expand. My advice for filmmakers is to bet on themselves, be brave and to always create with intention and heart.

Garland: The toughest thing I’ve had to face is that I didn’t go to film school, so everything I’ve learned was on the job and by observing editors around me and integrating their process into what I do. My advice for aspiring filmmakers is that so long as you know how to tell a story the rest of the technical knowledge will follow, and that if you are willing to learn and practice on your own you can pick up the skills needed to become a great creator.

What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?

Imani: My favorite thing about my workspace is that it's only a few steps from my backyard, which is one of my favorite places to go and think/breathe in between editing.

Nia Imani Workspace.

Image source: Nia Imani.

Garland: I don’t have a photo of my full set up from when I was on this project. There is an additional monitor and a TV to the right. My favorite thing was the standing desk, always good to take a break and stand for a bit on a long editing day!

 Jamie Garland Workspace.

Image source: Jamie Garland.

OLIVIA RODRIGO: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film) is currently streaming on Disney Plus.