PROMOTION: How Carlson Young Brought Her Dreamy Debut The Blazing World To Life

The Blazing World

by Empire |
Updated on

The debut film from writer-director Carlson Young began in her dreams. When she slept, her mind took her to a place that became the genesis of The Blazing World – a hallucinatory horror-fantasy inspired by David Lynch, scary stories, and a youth spent in the imaginative worlds of Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials. “I’m a lucid dreamer,” she says. “I was having dreams of this field and this big black hole. When we started excavating the feature version of the script, subconsciously I sort of entered that black hole in my mind.”

Adapted from her own 2018 short of the same name, The Blazing World stars Young herself as Margaret – a suicidal young woman who finds “this opportunity to enter the heart of her earliest trauma and confront the demons that live there” in a psychological odyssey that delves into a mind-bending different dimension. For all its wild imagination, the film is very much a personal piece. “I had such an intimate connection with the character and the story,” she says. “When I connected that personal place to the bigger story, it was really cathartic.”

The Blazing World – BTS

To bring her dreams – and her story – to life on the big screen, Young needed powerful and precise editing tools to create her vision, just as she saw it in her head. “Adobe Premiere Pro is just the gold standard in terms of editing software, I absolutely loved using it,” she says, noting how it empowered her not just in the edit, but during the shoot too. “I was able to edit in my head as we were shooting,” says Young. “You know the tools you’re going to have in post. You have to make sure you have the raw material to get into the assembly comfortably, but Premiere Pro makes it really easy to do that.”

With those tools at her disposal, Young was able to amplify her own unique directorial voice – ensuring the feeling of each scene was exactly how she imagined. “I made energy maps of the entire story,” she explains, “and when I say energy, I say tone, and tone is in the edit.” As Margaret’s descent into dark fantasy continues, the feeling of The Blazing World changes with it. “The more time that is spent in the film, the tone becomes more frenetic, because her body is losing oxygen,” says Young. “Margaret is going further and further into the back of her brain, where she can assimilate and confront this trauma. Not a lot of people had seen an energy map like this – it kind of looks like a heart monitor – but it was really instrumental in me being able to get to the edit and choose the performances from there.”

It's been an odyssey, getting this thing out.

And for all the film’s far-out visuals – demonic realms, expansive vistas, and that swirling black hole – integrating effects shots was easy. “We had multiple VFX artists working for several months on this,” she says, “and when a shot is delivered to us, James [K. Crouch, editor] drops it into the edit and it’s a seamless process.” Not only does Premiere Pro offer Speech to Text tools to create automatic transcriptions and translations (“We just had a screening in Spain with Spanish and Catalan subtitles – that’s something that Premiere Pro can generate,” says Young), but the filmmakers also used text tools for ease of communication with external teams in post-production. “Since we had over 150 VFX shots in the film, we were able to put manual subtitles over the spots that were going to be filled with an effect and describe it in really big detail,” Young explains. “Our VFX artists were then able to have a really clear and concise image.”

The Blazing World – BTS

After shooting amid the pandemic and undertaking a close-knit post-production process, Young has now screened The Blazing World with audiences at festivals including Sundance and Sitges. “I watched it in a 1300-person theatre with incredible sound and amazing picture quality, and I couldn’t help but smile,” she says. “It was a lovely experience that I’ll really treasure. It’s been an odyssey, getting this thing out.” A film that started as a dream ended as one too.

To learn more about how Carlson brings her vision to life, please tune into this Adobe ‘In Conversation’ session__, supporting BAFTA Guru Live with Carlson and Claire Luxton. If you’d like to get a free Premiere Pro trial check it out here__.

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