What Are Rushes in Film? Everything You Need to Know

We all hear those buzzwords in the film industry. From moviegoers to film enthusiasts, we all recognize the phrase, “lights, camera, action!” But then we hear those less common words like “rushes,” which can seem more like insider knowledge. So today, I’m introducing you to the world of rushes in film.

What Are Rushes in Film?

In filmmaking, a rush, also referred to as dailies and sometimes sweatboxes, are the terms for the complete raw footage that is shot during the day without any editing that is sent to the editor. Their name comes from the speed at which they need to be delivered to the director.

I always think of this editor as Roadrunner from Looney Tunes.

How Rushes Work

At the end of each day of shooting, the editor works to get the rushes ready for review. Preparing them involves converting the footage into a viewable format and sometimes syncing the sound and visual footage together.

The director, editors, and other key members of the crew all sit in chairs with popcorn and review the rushes to identify any problems that need fixing. Okay, I’m not sure how many of them actually eat popcorn, but it’s an excellent idea. It is a movie, after all. 

Why Are Rushes in Film Production Important? 

You have made your beautiful movie, everyone is excited, and now you have sat down to edit. The world is your edit oyster. But then you open your first take, which everyone absolutely loved, and there is a significant spot on the lens. Rendering your sanity gone, and that take useless.

What Are Rushes in Film - Film Lens Spot

Unless you want to try to fix that with VFX, and not many have the budget, time, or energy to do that. Let the film rushes ride in on their savior horse. Spotting problems early allows you to film a scene again while the set and cast are still available. Rushes are essential, so you won’t run into these costly mistakes that could have been fixed while on set.

In other cases, these rushes also get sent to producers and investors to ensure the film is going according to plan and meeting expectations. This can also be a big morale boost for the cast and crew to see their hard work that was only on paper hours before. 

Example of film dailies

Rushes or dailies are anything from start to finish of one long take. The beauty of seeing these early is that sometimes you really like a long take of an actor’s performance or the camera work. Other times, it’s a stylistic choice to work with “one shots”.

Movies such as Birdman, Atomic Blonde, and 1917 are great examples of film dailies because while some edits are hidden, long takes are present and have to be seamless.

Here’s a great video from IMDb that discusses the 1917 film and how they used the Long shot.

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Even if you aren’t working with long takes for your final edit, sometimes watching takes straight through will change your perspective on a  scene. A way that rushes has helped me was in the short film “First Impressions.” There was already an idea for how the edit would go. Still, after watching a full take in the last scene, it felt much better to let the actors, camera, and story breathe a little bit. This allowed the story to have a moment of pause after the scene, which had four characters.

Conclusion 

Rushes are a beautiful way to summarize the day, keep crew and cast morale up, catch any unwanted mistakes, and keep your investors and producers happy. They are absolutely essential to the filmmaking process and should be handled with care. I hope you enjoyed learning about rushes in film and happy filmmaking! 

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