Editing Tribeca feature film “Bad Shabbos”

Still image from Tribeca feature film “Bad Shabbos”. Image source: Tribeca Film Festival.

Bad Shabbos” follows a comedic evening as an interfaith couple comes back home, and their parents meet for the first time over Shabbat dinner. Over the course of the night, the family get-together takes the audience on a dramatic journey of emotions when an accidental death gets in the way. Editor Kait Plum shares how she used Adobe Premiere Pro to craft this comedy.

“Bad Shabbos” will air at Tribeca Film Festival on June 10.

How and where did you first learn to edit?

I got my start in editing back in high school. After school, my friends and I would head into the woods to create impromptu comedy films to later post on YouTube. But because we had to go home for dinner, our stories often lacked endings. It fell to me to tie everything together in the editing room, stitching scenes and crafting narratives out of whatever we captured. Reflecting on it now, that's probably how I learned the essence of storytelling. It's funny how those early days unknowingly laid the groundwork for my career.

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

When starting a new project, my first step is usually to screen the dailies. I find that my most authentic reactions come from that initial viewing. If I feel a genuine emotion or find myself laughing, I know those are the moments that will resonate with the audience in the final cut. As far as the workspace setup, a cup of espresso is all I need.

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

The dinner scene holds a special place in my heart, mainly because it posed the greatest challenge in terms of editing due to the extensive amount of footage. Yet, coming from a documentary background, I felt equipped to tackle it. It’s undeniably the heartbeat of the film, and when we finally struck the right pacing for it, it was a euphoric moment. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

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

I think the biggest challenge we faced during post-production was determining which jokes landed the strongest. We conducted numerous A & B screenings, each containing different jokes or pacing, to help us pinpoint the perfect moments of comedy while trimming out any unnecessary elements. It was a unique experience to be able to test our editing choices so scientifically. I wish every project could be approached in this manner, but I suppose if I work on more comedies in the future, I'll have that opportunity.

What Adobe tools did you use on this project and why did you originally choose them? Were there any other third-party tools that helped enhance your workflow?

We used Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder for this project. We found them to be the perfect fit because of their straightforward project setup and sharing features. We all worked mainly in the same room together so it was easy to collaborate. Even without extensive prior knowledge of Premiere Pro, Daniel Robbins, our director, could seamlessly work within the project. This streamlined collaboration, allowing him to make adjustments to scenes whenever needed, thus eliminated the need to do notes as often. He could share his new sequence with me, and I was able to finalize everything accordingly.

If you could share one tip about Premiere Pro, what would it be?

My biggest tip for Premiere Pro would be to utilize the matchback tool or "find clip in project" feature. It makes it incredibly easy to locate similar takes by quickly finding the clip's corresponding bin.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

On "Bad Shabbos," my biggest inspiration was editor Brent White. He's worked on some of my favorite modern comedies of the last 20 years, including “Step Brothers” and “No Hard Feelings”. So, I hope I channeled some of his essence into the edit of our film.

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?

The toughest lesson I've learned in my career is the importance of having a contract in place, even when working with friends. While we may trust each other, the reality is that in this industry, there are risks and uncertainties. Money and fame can change dynamics, and it's crucial to protect yourself and your interests. My advice is to always have a contract, regardless of the relationship. If someone is hesitant about signing a contract, it may be a red flag indicating that you shouldn't be working with them. Promises can be made and broken, but a contract provides clarity and security for everyone involved.

Share a photo of where you work. What’s your favorite thing about your workspace and why?

My favorite thing about my workspace is probably my dog, Yosemite. She's a great assistant and provides excellent company. Whenever I hit a mental block, I can bounce ideas off her, and she's always there to lend a listening ear. She also comforts directors when they come to sessions, which makes my suggestions of what to cut easier to handle because they're cuddling her.

Image of the workspace of Kait Plum, “Bad Shabbos” editor. Image source: Kait Plum, “Bad Shabbos” editor.