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.

Kai Hagen
I hope so...I have a pretty basic question, but it is only loosely
documentary-related (don't ask!)...

I think I am soon going to have to produce a basic three minute video,
for a highly specific purpose. I have an old and adequate camcorder,
but I am thinking it would be far easier to edit with a new digital
video camera than by simply recording bits in order off the camera to
video tape (told you this was basic).

Is it relatively easy to edit - and learn to edit? Would it look
better? Can I get a just-decent-enough video camera for a few hundred
Doug Block
Basic editing isn't really that difficult, Kai, though you certainly
need practice to get good at it. It's also getting easier and easier
to find good, inexpensive desktop editing systems. But you need an
edit system of some kind to do what you're looking for.

The new I-Macs have an edit program that comes with it and would be
perfect for your needs. Or you can buy iMovie 2 for any Mac with
firewire capabilities:

More and more streaming video websites are offering downloadable
editing software, as well. Some are free.

The cheapest digital camcorders will probably run you close to
$1,000, but you can try ebay for a used one.
Deleted User
It would be far easier to edit with a digital source. There are
programs for Mac and PC that will do a very good job for little more
than $100. Doug is right you will have to spend close to $1000 for a
new digital camera and I personally would not buy one second-hand
unless I knew who I was buying from. Perhaps you might rent or borrow
one for a specific project.
Doug Block
Thanks for the followup, Billy. Why doncha tell us all about the
glory of you in the Introduce Yourself thread: LINK NOT IMPORTED
Kai Hagen
Thanks for the insight, guys.

I wish the camera was cheaper, but that is about what I expected. I
think I might at least look at a used one or two - but renting or
borrowing seems like the best option for a one-time, three minute

I've got a G4, Doug, purchased last year. I wonder if I have the
software I need. Probably I suppose I would have known it
(even though I didn't need it).
John D. Williams
I was wondering if a topic could be created here to alert us to
places/times/dates where we can see documentary films. A topic named
something like:

Festivals & Screenings: Where you can see documentary films

This topic is where film festival dates and individual screening
dates for films on television or colleges, etc., etc., etc.

Does that sound like a good idea? I know about some of the bigger
festivals (Sundance, Hot Springs, etc.), but if I knew someone's film
had a screening date at UT-Arlington just 45 minutes away, that would
be nice to know about. And if I should happen to learn that TCU is
showing a Robert Flaherty film which is open to the public, it would
be nice to have a topic where I could share that info.

Sure, we're spread out all over the country and if someone posts that
their new film is playing in Boston I'm not going to hop on the next
plane, but if, for example, I knew Doug Block or Robert Goodman or
some other D-Worder was going to be at Chico State University while I
was visiting my parents -- hey, I'd go see them -- Doug or Robert,
that is ... and my folks, too. :-)

A place to know about television and/or cable network screenings
would be especially helpful.

Just an idea.
Jen Williams
I think it's a good idea. Maybe the Shameless Self-Promotion topic
could be expanded to include the promotion of others as well. For
example, I wanted to alert anyone who might be interested that Ken
Burns' documentary on jazz will begin airing on 1/08/01 on PBS, but I
wasn't sure where to post it. Also, if people go to a big festival
that maybe not everyone could get to, they could give reveiws of the
films or talk about the techniques they saw. I know *i'd* be
interested in something like that.

Robert Goodman
Sounds like an excellent idea. Just open a new topic and start
posting notices. I'm sure any of us with films playing will post a
Doug Block
John, Jen, Robert, your wish is our command: LINK NOT IMPORTED