Your movie is out! Congrats! Time to start cleaning out in faithful preparation for the next movie… you can start this process as late as the 1 year anniversary of the release. Or whenever, really. Just do it at some point.
I’ve made over a dozen projects in the last decade. I’ve written about cleaning house before on MsInTheBiz and how to organize in the 10 days after wrap, BUT I haven’t discussed what to do after the film has been out in the world… and you’re moving and don’t know what you’ll want later.
I have a film release from 2012, 2014, and 2017 … that have GREAT personal meaning to me and will always be close to my heart. But enough time has passed by for me to have the perspective that matters. Here are 4 guidelines to consider.
- Keep: Production Bible (create one, do not forget). Extra hard drives of raw footage.
- Trash: Accounting records. When you want to come across something one day, keep the paper version in the production bible. BUT if you want to look up records, accounting records should be digital and kept on a hard drive for accounting/tax/other purposes. Digitize something you think could be important and trash those excess physical Exhibit Gs. You don’t need paper trails if they can be digital, recycle them.
- Keep: Iconography. Jason’s mask. The knife on the poster. The heels she kicked-a** in. The lamp covered in blood that was secretly the murder weapon. The blue horn from their first date. That hammer. If it could be representative of the whole movie, then hang it on a wall. Try to stick to 1 item only. If it wouldn’t be on the key art reimagined, then you don’t need it.
- Trash: General props, general wardrobe, and 13 paper print-outs of the script. Gift and give these items away – right away. Use those items to bolster that release or even an anniversary of the release. But let them go. You cannot keep them all and give them all weight. They can and should be reused in future projects (giving them more magic and life) or sent off to someone else to enjoy. You don’t need it and you won’t be sad it is gone. If it still sparks joy now, examine if it’ll spark just as much joy in 20 years.
- Keep: Awards, You deserve to keep an award on a shelf (I’m not judging you if it’s in a box in the garage) for you to recognize that symbol keeping stock of the labor and passion encased in this film. IT WAS WORTH IT. Keep the award NO MATTER WHAT OR WHERE. It mattered and you were seen and recognized. It is also good for your mental health to be reminded that you’re a valued member of the filmmaking community and awards (no matter how small) are symbols of recognition.
- Trash: Paper. If it doesn’t go into a physical production bible, then you don’t need it. Truly. It’s ok to recycle it.
For My Children (or Legacy for people who do not choose parenthood: For My Students or For Filmmaking Posterity)
- Keep: Photos. Pick a photo from set (behind-the-scenes) and print and frame it. This may be a relic in the future, however, framed photos are captured and put on a pedestal; creating importance on the people. The movie itself serves as the art. The framed photo memorializes the labor, bond, and participation of the people.
- Trash: Trinkets. Your legacy is not imbued into an item that holds equal meaning to your descendants. If you have the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard Of Oz, then this doesn’t apply to you (see Iconography above). But if you have a cast gift from a team member that matters to you from a film project, it won’t have the same weight to others. Keep it. But when you’re ready to move on from that trinket, do so. You have permission to get rid of it when it becomes a weight instead of a sail. It is not ungrateful or heartless, it was for you (which ultimately makes it more perfect for the time it served) and it is not to be passed down.
There are tons of reasons of why this list does not apply to you, it applies to me! But, at the same time, it’s nice to have the advice from a fellow filmmaker. Permission to let go is freely given here. And permission to keep as well. But, you do you. And let me know what you did and why! tell me at @JennicaRenee