What Happens After the Cutting Room Floor?

I love movies.

I could watch (and have watched) some moves over and over and over again. I know I get this form my Dad—he’s a movie buff and I have fond memories of sitting in the middle of the living room floor with him while we watched together.

The final version of the movie, called the final cut, is usually around two hours—but there were many more hours of footage that are not included. Today, software applications are used to put footage together, but in the pre-computer era film was literally cut and taped together to make a movie. All of the film that was not used was physically discarded—only the most essential moments of footage make it into the final cut.

Though the days of literally splicing film are gone, the phrase cutting room floor still denotes the act of discarding good, but non-essential things to make a better final product.

As much as communicators hate it, the same applies to what we communicate.

Because people connect better to short, concise messages, we, as communicators, must use purposeful subtraction to get rid of all of the non-essentials in their messages in order for them to be most powerful.

Here’s why this is so hard—you’ve done hours of work (research, thinking, reading, etc.) and now you’re going to have to sacrifice some of this good content for the sake of brevity.


In his book, Andy Stanley says that this cut content isn’t wasted. This cutting room floor content can still be used in other ways:

  • another message at a later date
  • another message in the same series
  • small group content
  • supplemental resources
  • blog posts
  • podcasts

Cut content isn’t dead content—it’s use later content.

What are some other creative ways we can use cut content?

Photo Credit: Samuel Zeller

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