“Never Goin’ Back” Marks Augustine Frizzell’s Directorial Debut

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Image credited to Clay Grier, courtesy of Sundance Institute.
“Never Goin’ Back” Marks Augustine Frizzell’s Directorial Debut

Augustine Frizzell has made her rounds at the Sundance Film Festival as an actor and as an assistant editor. But she attended the 2018 Festival in a different capacity — as a first-time director for her movie “Never Goin’ Back,” which premiered as part of the Midnight program.

“This is my first solo effort,” says Augustine. “It’s surreal.”

The movie tells the story of two teenage best friends, both high school dropouts, who live on their own in Dallas while supporting themselves with waitressing jobs. In a bid to escape their oppressive reality, the girls plan a trip to the beach. But a few shifts away from their getaway, everything that could possibly go wrong does.

The majority of the film was shot in Dallas, Texas, where Augustine was raised and continues to reside with her filmmaker husband, David Lowery. The only exception to the 20-day production was a day spent getting beach footage in Los Angeles, California. The film was shot in August, 2017, on an ARRI ALEXA camera, and edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

With such a tight post-production timeline leading up to the Sundance Film Festival cut-off date, editor Courtney Ware joined the crew during production, following them around and editing on set. “The main idea was to make sure things were working and our jokes were landing, and that we weren’t hitting any huge continuity errors,” she explains. “As an editor, it was nice to be on set and watch the production unfold.”

A week after wrapping up, Courtney had an assembly cut, which then went over to Augustine for her input. Some days they would work side by side, putting the finishing touches on the film together. “It was very collaborative,” says Augustine. “I loved the entire process.”

Augustine Frizzell, director of “Never Goin' Back,” an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo credited to Atheena Frizzell, courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Both women are self-taught editors. Augustine, who home-schooled her daughter for many years, was introduced to video editing during a homeschooling conference. “It became a hobby, so when I started making my own films, it made sense for me to edit them too,” she explains. “I’ve also edited films for friends, and for my daughter, who is also a filmmaker now. But I never worked professionally as an editor.”

She particularly likes how simple Premiere Pro is to pick up. “When I first started using Premiere Pro, if I didn’t know how to do something, I would watch YouTube videos to learn,” says Augustine. “It was so easy to implement from there. As soon as you see how it’s done, you can just go and do it yourself.”

Courtney has been equally as thrilled with Premiere Pro. “It has always been exactly what I’ve needed, whether I’m working on a narrative or corporate project,” she says. “I’ve loved it, and have always felt supported.” She particularly likes the multicam feature. “I worked on a live show once, with nine different cameras, and wouldn’t have survived without the multicam feature in Premiere Pro,” she says.

In “Never Goin’ Back,” the duo leveraged the screen replacement capabilities of Premiere Pro. The editing team also did some clean-up work in After Effects.

The film marks the first time Augustine and Courtney have worked together. For Courtney, it was also the first time she edited a narrative that wasn’t her own. “I typically collaborate on the producing side of things,” she says, “so this experience was phenomenal for me.”

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