Is there such thing as a "final" cut?
Anyone seasoned at making videos consistently knows the loaded word that is "final". They know that in a sense, there's really no such thing as a "final" piece since anything could be tweaked and changed for any reason at any time. And of course the superstitious curse of once you name a file "final" you are destined to change it which defeats the entire purpose of naming a file in such a definitive way. However, what we as filmmakers and videographers do after the rough cut stage is aim for "refinement" and create a "fine" cut. Something that looks so polished that impresses anyone who watches it.
This fine cut represents (hopefully) what was mentally invented and invisioned from the inception of the project. The fine cut makes it look like you knew what you were doing the whole time (even if you didn't). This stage has been honestly a fun process for me. As I've taken the documentary from rough story to refined artistic piece, it's been enjoyable to engage in finesing a project that was promising even with the rough cut. I color corrected and graded the film, I fluffed the sound design and sweetened the soundtrack. We inserted more appropriate music that matched thematically, and I mixed the sound for the right output and presentation.
A struggle I stumbled upon was constantly second-guessing myself at every turn while re-watching my film over and over again. Was this shot right? Is it timed right? Too long? Too short? Does it match the other shots for color? Does this scene work in the context of the overall film's narrative? Does this sequence flow naturally? Is the emotion forced?
This part of the process is filled with vulnerable self-doubt and fulfillment of seeing conceptualized ideas come to life. I found watching interviews with established filmmakers and hearing their insights was important for me to know that my emotions are not unique and that I am in good company. As I listened to words of understanding and empathy I felt more confident with my project and what the story had to say.