Directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra believed that to make a compelling film about a con man, they’d need to lie at least as persuasively as he did. “Any movie is a series of lies,” says Requa. “But you have to make sure the lies work so you don’t alienate the audience.” For their new feature film, Focus, that meant creating intricate, tightly edited scenes that convincingly sell the schemes of grifter protagonist Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith).
Sustaining complex misdirection required an editing tool that was just the opposite — clear, straightforward, and accessible enough that the directors could edit footage along with lead editor Jan Kovac. It needed to be fast so they could experiment with scores of alternate takes. It had to be flexible so they could easily move between cutting on Mac Pro in the edit suite and working with MacBook Pro on location. And it had to be robust enough to reliably organize and process 2K Apple ProRes 4444 footage from production through multiple stages of post.
After researching several workflows, Requa and Ficarra decided to cut their major studio feature entirely in Final Cut Pro X. The results were even better than they’d expected. The movie came in on time and under budget, and it played and looked just as they’d envisioned it. “We got exactly the film we set out to make,” says Requa. “What I love about Final Cut Pro X is that it allowed me to be involved with, and in control of, every aspect of making our film.”