The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

  • Public

This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Bill Jackson
Pro

Casey, it looks like you are doing all the right things. D-Word, Doculink, and Docuday, which is the biggest single day for Documentary, here in LA. Good luck!

Emma Holbrook
Pro

Hi Everyone,

This is an introduction and an asking for feedback post all in one.  I've been making little shorts and been involved on the sidelines with lots of projects for over 15 years now. I've just spent the last two years making my first doc as a director which is all about how the live arts can survive in the regions of the uk following the financial crisis and the cuts to local authorities. I've got to a stage where we're happy with the offline and we're about to do the online edit.

We have our release forms etc but I was wondering if there was anywhere on here I could post the private vimeo link so I can just share it with you guys for any creative or legal feedback that I may have missed?

I'm also trying to get some good distribution advice beyond simply monitization on vimeo etc. The website for the project is www.makingthecut.org.uk which has the film's trailer on the home page. WIll look forward to meeting some of you virtually and reading your feedback.

Thanks,

Emma.

Doug Block
Host

Emma, the reason you can't post the Vimeo link here is you're in the Mentoring topic, which is meant for members known as "enthusiasts" rather than "professionals." Since you're a pro member, you should post again in the Works in Progress topic, where we have video enabled. 

Not sure how long your film is.  If it's a feature, it's unlikely to get too much feedback.  For a short, yes.

Anyway, good to have you aboard here. You'll get the hang of navigating The D-Word soon enough.

Emma Holbrook
Pro

Ok great Doug, Yes sorry about that, just learning to find my way around at the moment. Thanks.

Sebastian Lory
Pro

Hey D-Word,

I'm a documentary filmmaker, currently embarking on my second feature film. I am looking for creative people to collaborate with on an idea I've been developing for over 5 years and that I am now ready to push forward into production. I am essentially hoping to find someone who would be interested in producing the documentary. Have I come to the right place? If so, it would be great if someone could point me towards the appropriate topic forum to discuss the idea in more depth. Thank you!
Best regards,
Sebastian

Doug Block
Host

Sebastian, since you're a Professional member, better that you post in the Professional Classifieds topic.  You're likely to find a higher caliber producer there than in here, for sure.

Bryn Hadubiak
Fan

After some research, we found out we can't put up our doc publicly in order to submit it to film festivals. So, I won't be able to show it yet, except privately or as part of my portfolio. In the meantime, I'm looking for work and have a few questions.

Funding in my province has all but dried up. The loss of the film tax credit demolished most of the local film industry - there aren't many companies doing anything but commercial work. The obvious solution is to move, which I have no problem with, but figuring out where to go and what sort of work to look for is the question.

I'm good at developing ideas into fleshed out stories. Directing, videography, technical editing, story editing - I've done a bit of everything. I've done it well enough to earn high if not always top marks in my classes at the J-School, and be paid for it professionally freelancing and interning at news media outlets.

What I want to do is to work my way up doing documentaries again. Should I be looking for work project by project, i.e. freelancing, or should I be looking for a job with a production company. If the former: how would I go about finding such projects?

I'm also working on creating another documentary until I find work.

Right now, in my spare time, I'm working together with a couple of colleagues from my previous doc. All of us have worked as journalists, and we're in the process of putting together a creative treatment. We're also meeting with a videographer on Wednesday to see if they have any interest in working with us. But while we know how to put together the form and content of a good story, all of us are relatively inexperienced when it comes to the logistics behind putting together a feature-length documentary - by this I mean: budgets, legal, etc.

I figure the best course of action for this documentary would be to put our treatment together and pitch it to an independent producer, and learn more about the process as we go. We could do it on our own, but the subject matter requires great care and we want to treat the story right. Any advice would be welcome.

Jody Lauren Miller
Pro

Hi D-Word ... Can you please give your opinion on paying for "consultations" or mentorships?

I need guidance, but don't wanna be a "docu-rube" and pay for something that perhaps a wiser filmmaker would not. 

Thank you.

Christina Neferis
Pro

Hi, I am new here to this site.  I applied for Professional status, how long does it take to be accepted?  Thank you, Christina

John Burgan
Host

In reply to Christina Neferis's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

 Doesn't appear that you had actually applied, Christina - but no worries, I've just upgraded you to Pro - welcome to The D-Word. Also as Hosts we sometimes like an evening off!

The Mentoring Room is for beginner filmmakers, questions about The D-Word itself belong in Help with the D-Word Topic

Doug Block
Host

In reply to Christina Neferis's post on Sat 23 May 2015:

Welcome, Christina. A lot of people registering for "Pro" status seem to get stuck at the "Fan" level and the hosts are actually very curious why that happens, as we'd like to make it simpler and easier.  It seems it's mostly because they feel they did register as a Pro.  Any idea why you thought that?  

Jody Lauren Miller
Pro

In reply to Jesse Zook Mann's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

HI JZM ... Thanks for responding. I think i was misleading using "mentorship" ... but i was referring to this type of thing: http://www.howtomake-a-documentary.com/documentary-mentor  - Basically it says: "You've got QUESTIONS! We've got ANSWERS! Take advantage of our 40 years combined experience in the documentary industry! Let us guide you through an entire film, or just a tough spot in your process. Our award-winning background, attention to detail and supportive guidance will get you back on the fast-track."  

There was another "consultation" dealio ( http://docsinprogress.org/services/consultations/ ) ... just unsure if this is a useful step/tool/idea or plain dumb.

i am very familiar with doing narrative work and how to pull that stuff off on any budget ... but felt like a little direction with my docu concept may be wise ... again, i dont wanna be thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat idiot, but talking to those who have been there, done that (even if its for a reasonable fee) didnt seem like the most ridiculous idea. Yet anyway :)~  - 

Jesse Zook Mann
Pro

In reply to Jody Lauren Miller's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

 I think you have a more powerful support system on this site, but who knows. It looks like they have done ok. Getting ITVS three times is impressive. I don't think any of these things are bad but I said my piece about this topic over at: http://www.d-word.com/topics/175-Our-Daily-Bread-Redux?post=325039

Getting grants is hard. You might get ITVS, and Sundance... but you probably won't. even with professional mentor help. People with academy awards are having a hard time getting funding, you are comping against the best filmmakers in the world. Does that mean you can't do it? No way. People here get grants all the time. But even in the best case scenario it is years of work to get funded. Sometimes half a decade, and then if you don't get funded... well thats a lot of years wasted, and that is more of the rule than the exception. 

So these programs leave a bad taste in my mouth because in their pitch it is so easy - just do what they say and you'll be in festivals sooner than you can imagine! Unless you can find a camera, pick it up, and have the time to start shooting... that isn't reality. A camera, free time, a macbook, ramen, and d-word are a much better use of your money than professional mentors IMHO.

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Hey Jody, I am the Executive Director of Docs In Progress. While it might seem like my "pitch" would be very different from what Jesse is suggesting, it actually isn't. The best way to learn and improve is by doing - whether you just go out there and make a documentary and turn to free support networks like The D-Word or film communities and meet-ups in your own city OR gain mentorship by working with a more experienced filmmaker.

Paid advice works in very specific circumstances -- feedback on a cut or a proposal or, for some folks who treat it like a personal trainer -- to give them the regimen to keep them moving. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The consultation program of Docs In Progress is actually the smallest program we offer but most we do offer (filmmaker roundtables, work in progress screenings, classes, etc.) take place in the DC area. So I would probably recommend you seek out film communities where you are (Philadelphia? New York?) as well as the fine place you've happened upon called The D-Word.

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Oh and Jesse, only those with Pro status can see your post over in the Our Daily Bread topic. Thanks for re-posting part of it here so the Fans can see it as well.

Jody, you should apply for Pro status as well since your bio indicates you are hardly a newbie.

Jody Lauren Miller
Pro

In reply to Erica Ginsberg's post on Mon 25 May 2015:

Thank you EG ... i will def apply for "pro status"! I've written and shot tons, all in the ad space for the past 10 years ... so i thought your "pro" was for "pro DOCU" level exeprience ... i do have a decent base of experience since i started my career at NFL Films and that was a great training ground for docu style shooting, etc ... Thank you for your time and advice!!! Now back to picnics for you and JZM :)~ 

Doug Block
Host

Jody, thought I'd save you the bother and just promoted you to Pro status.  Clearly you qualify and now you'll have access to 45+ discussion topics.

Daniel Simmonds
Fan

Hey everyone.

I'm Dan, I'm an amatuer and working on an idea for a documentary. If anyone would like to offer some advice, right now I'm focusing on the story. I have the premise and outlined the selective parts and I want to develop it into a great story. Can any offer non-specific tips or maybe books to read on creating great stories.

Thanks


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