We learn from Editor Ryan Morrison and his experience working on Netflix’s new science fiction film. Stowaway.
Cast includes Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette from Netflix Stowaway follows a space mission directed to Mars when an unintentional stowaway accidentally severely damages the spacecraft’s life support systems. With dwindling resources and a potentially fatal outcome, the crew is forced to make an impossible decision.
The film’s co-writer and editor, Ryan Morrison, relied on Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop during remote editing. We asked Ryan about his favorite scenes, how he should write and edit together Productions in the Premiere Pro allowed his team to work more efficiently and his advice to budding filmmakers.
Ryan continued to edit Premiere Pro Ever since he was a YouTube creator, we’ve been excited to see his experience when he first got into filmmaking Arctic and now with Stowaway.
How and where did you first learn to work?
I learned to edit pretty late in the game for the first time. I took some basic production classes in college. It was great learning the basics there, but I’ve done most of my learning through trial and error. Record and edit my own projects for fun.
How do you start a project / set up your workspace?
I often edit on set so my setup and workspace is usually determined by the location. To the ArcticI brought the bare minimums out into the snow and assembled a large part of the film from a cold trailer in the middle of the Icelandic wilderness.
To the StowawayI was very lucky to set up my suite in an office just a few steps from the stage. In some places my desk was literally in the soundstage next to the set pieces.
Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why you notice it.
My favorite scene is the start at the very beginning. It was the first thing [director and co-writer] Joe [Penna] and I’ve written and haven’t changed much from that first draft to final editing. We both had such a clear picture of what this should look, sound and feel like from the start.
It was so fun seeing how each level was added. Words on the page, for pre-visualization, for production, for editing, for sound design, for music, for VFX and then for color. The end product was better than we had imagined.
What specific post-production challenges did you face that were unique to your project? How did you solve it?
The pandemic hit when we were in the middle of the action. Joe and I were in LA and were not allowed to travel to Europe at the time.
In the end we had a workflow where Joe and I were in LA and we could remotely monitor the colorist and DP who were in Germany. We used calibrated iPad professionals to ensure a consistent color representation. Then we managed to check some exports at a local paint house.
What Adobe tools did you use for this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were you the best choice for this project?
Productions in Premiere Pro gave us a platform for a very efficient, multi-user workflow. After Effects integrates seamlessly with Premiere Pro, and it was important to me to be able to mimic effects in order to feel the truest rhythm of a scene.
Photoshop was an essential tool for Joe and me to mock complex visual concepts and convey them to our VFX team.
What do you like about Premiere Pro and / or any of the other tools you use?
I love that all of the Adobe products I use are constantly evolving. Most NLEs have the same basic functionality, but I notice Premiere Pro because Adobe is always listening to users. Every project has different needs and problems.
Over the years of editing professionally, I had a laundry list of features that were wanted at a specific point in time and are now part of my daily workflow.
Productions in Premiere Pro were an absolute game changer. This allowed me and my assistant to work at the same time without fear of someone overwriting or undoing progress. In addition, waiting times when opening large projects were avoided.
Who is your creative inspiration and why?
It may seem strange, but my creativity is greatly influenced by a phrase my father used to tell me growing up: “Use the right tool for the job.”
When I look at things that way, I take a step back from what I’m working on (writing, shooting, editing) and remember to ask myself, “What are you trying to achieve?”
In my YouTube days, frenetic editing was the right tool for a MysteryGuitarMan video off the wall. To the ArcticThe right tools were sharp, slow shots to make you feel isolated. To the StowawayIt focuses on tension, both external and internal. That sentence really shaped me as a filmmaker.
What was the hardest part of your career and how did you get over it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?
The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my career was when our YouTube channel was no longer sustainable for Joe and me to make a living. We had a choice of getting stable jobs advertising, or we could go all in and take a big swing and jump into the big league with a feature film. The film was Arctic.
People often ask what advice I would give aspiring content creators. I would tell them to start doing things. If you’re already doing things, keep doing them. Do them with friends. I think it’s better to look back and have a selection of small projects, each with a lesson than having a handful of great ideas that just live in your head.
I love working from home because I don’t have to commute. I can start and finish as early or late as I want. And it’s so easy for my best friend (who happens to be the director) to come over and get something done.
Still, one day I would love to have a room devoted only to my setup.
The Arnold poster is a modified prop from the movie that has my face taped on, courtesy of the Art Department.
This photo is indie filmmaking in a nutshell. My living room doubles as an editing suite.