‘Dealt’ director discusses how he found the right story by throwing half of his edit out

April 19, 2018

Richard Turner documentary Dealt is an incredible character study, but of course the process to make a great artistic work doesn’t happen overnight. In director Luke Korem’s case, that process happened over several years because he threw out half of the film once he realized it wasn’t coming together as well as he’d like.

In an article written for No Film School, Korem discusses five important things he learned from making his second feature. While much of the advice is meant for filmmakers to take to heart (like “Don’t edit your own film”), there are still some interesting nuggets about the process of how Dealt‘s narrative took shape.

The reason why Dealt works so well (as we recounted in our review) is because it’s not just an account of Turner’s incredible life, but rather an essay on the nature of obsession and admitting your own limitations to yourself. But finding that story meant listening to what was going on around the film’s subjects’ lives and being willing to take a risk on extending the schedule beyond what they’d originally planned for. Korem explains:

…I realized mid-way through production on Dealt that there was a more powerful story to tell. The film at that point was mostly a past-tense biopic. The arc of the story was mostly what happened leading up to this point in the main character’s life. However, it wasn’t sitting right with me. I had reviewed a lot of the cinéma vérité we had filmed, and found it to be more interesting. I also sensed (from listening) that there was a present day conflict and story that was unfolding.

After considerable thought and a team meeting, we scrapped half the edit and reversed course. We decided to film for an additional full year. This also meant I needed to jump in the edit room because our main editor was no longer available. It all sounds crazy but it was the right move. The story we ended up telling has more weight and resonates with a greater audience. It was totally worth it.

You can read the rest of the article here, which offers other nuggets into Dealt’s creation, as well as great advice for both filmmakers and anyone interested in crafting a interesting story from unlikely sources. Dealt is available to watch on DVD and available to rent digitally through iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, and more.