The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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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.

Diane Bernard
Thanks a mil for the advice. I checked out the La Cie info and it
looks good and I also found a good price on one at a nearby Apple
Store. So I'm about to go out and get one.
Erica Ginsberg
In answer to question posted here about music rights

Even if you have a signed agreement with the cabaret performers for
rights to their rendition of the song, in most cases, you will also
have clear rights for the song itself (usually with the publisher).
You can check with ASCAP to see if the songs you want are created by
one of their members. It doesn't really matter if your project is
not-for-profit. If you are planning to screen your film in any kind
of public space (including the Internet), you will need rights.

Can't recall if you said you were based in NYC, but, if so, AIFV is
holding a session on production legal issues soon, so you might want
to attend to get more specific answers to your questions.
Deleted User
*I am producing a documentary about a cabaret group in NYC. The main
feasibility questions that arise are about music use. Hopefully you can answer
these questions or can give insight as to who can help me with them.
*The project is not for profit. The songs used in the shows are popular ones,
but they are being played by a piano player with a singer. Must I secure rights
to use the music if it is being played by someone else in a stage show? What
other legalities must I look into to use it in a doc?
*Any information you can give would be greatly helpful and appreciated.

Thank You,
Erica Ginsberg
see my answer in the post prior to your question (makes me feel like
i have psychic powers)
Maureen Futtner
Hi filmmakers,

Just introduced myself & now I have QUESTIONS!

In the early stages of production of my first documentary on a
transgender pianist/singer who will be returning to her home country
(after having not been there for 25 years!) to perform in a series
of concerts. That's all I want to say about the project right now.
My question is regarding how much footage to shoot.
The return trip/concert is not for nearly another year and a half
yet, and I already have 16 hours of footage! Now, partially, I
realize my collaborator & I will have a ton of footage 'cause we're
novices, and need to work out a lot of kinks. But I'm also
concerned 'cause I keep wanting to shoot so much of her life. I do
plan to have the return trip be the final shoot, and we'll begin
post shortly after we get back. But, as I said, that trip is still
a year and a half away. Should I have a plan NOW for a maximum
amount of shooting to do? Any wisdom and advice would be greatly
Doug Block
Hard to answer that question, Maureen. It's largely going on
instinct. Wouldn't hurt to do a lot of interviews with your subject,
particularly when she's in the midst of doing something. Also seems
you have a possible built-in structure of beginning as she's taking
off for her trip, then continually flashing back as the concert tour
moves forward. Sort of like the past colliding with the present. In
the end, I recommend erring on the side of shooting, but also trying
not to overdo it. Tape is cheap but editors can be expensive.
Carolyn Projansky
Greetings to all: I haven't been here in months, and never
really "got to know" the folks in D-Word, but I need some advice.
I've recently moved back to the US from South Africa and I'm
struggling to catch up with changes in the production world in the US
since 2000. I'm pricing a job now, trying to figure out what kind of
camera equipment to budget for. In SA everybody was using DVCam or
miniDV (PD150) for almost everything. Here that doesn't seem to be
the case. I'm trying to choose between shooting in BETACAM-SP or
DVCAM for a project in which the video segments will ultimately end
up on the web (for use in a web-based training program). The
surprising thing is that DVCAM seems to be more expensive than BETA
here. In South Africa it was the reverse. Anyone understand my
confusion and can help enlighten me? Thanks. Carolyn
Doug Block
That's a surprise to me, too, Carolyn. Can you give us some examples
of the pricing you've run across? Because a PD150 shoots dv-cam and
goes for, what, $3500? Where can you get a beta-sp camera for near
that price?
Carolyn Projansky
Doug: I think the price comparison was not for a PD150 versus BETACAM-
SP, but for a bigger DV-CAM camera, compared to a BETA-SP. I'll have
to get the specifics from my production manager. But do you, or does
someone else know whether it matters what I shoot with if it's going
to end up in a tiny box on the web? Will a better camera give a
crisper image so its better to spend the money? Or will it all end up
looking tiny and grainy so who cares?