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.

James River Martin
Fan
Who's your audience?

Well, the smaller initial project would have a lot of "the choir" as
an audience. That is, those who are hip with and grooving on the anti-
car culture movement worldwide (mostly English-speaking nations). The
audience would also be their friends and family, and people standing
on the edge looking in from out there: Curious folks.

"Has anything like this been done before?"

Not exactly, to my knowledge. Though other films are sort of similar.

>>> Back in a bit.
James River Martin
Fan
"If so, how will your project be different?"

The docs I am aware of, and which are similar are either differently
or more narrowly focussed. There are one or two docs on Critical
Mass, there are docs which are critical of automobile saturarated
suburbia, and so on. I'd tell a similar story from a much different
angle and approach, the story of "the resistance" in the form of many
and diverse demonstrations and protests world-wide. To my knowledge,
it hasn't been done.


more in a moment.
James River Martin
Fan
"Do you plan to include new interview footage?"

Probably. Almost certainly. But perhaps not.

"I expect you'd want that to provide a frame for the story."

I think you are most likely right about that. Nevertheless, I *might*
do something closer to a "Baraka" (Fricke) or "Koyaanisqatsi"
(Reggio) --- Not exactly, but closer(?).

One possible alternative way to handle it is to publish a booklet of
the same dimensions as the DVD, and that booklet could tell the story
in words while allowing the imagery and sound to stand independent.

I'm leaving a door like this open until I've lived intimately with
the footage and played with some editing and what not. I am both a
scholar and an artist, and if the artist takes the lead ... well, he
might want to go elsewhere than the direction the scholar might
prefer.

In any case, it is perhaps too soon to lock in a plan ... If I'm
going to be editing and all. I can work intimately with the material
and follow it where it wants to go, this way. The Big Idea requires a
pretty focussed script which is also flexible. But I think I'll do
something small before I try to do a half million dollar blockbuster.
Steve Holmes
Pro
I dunno, James. If I see a bunch of people jumping up and down being
passionate about something, I want to know more about *them.* Their
issue becomes secondary. What drives, er, buses people to get worked
up enough to be part of the "resistance"? Why not sit home and watch
videos, or better yet, take a drive in the country? Programs with no
narration or interviews work only when the subjects can't talk. When
they can, I want them to do so.

As to your Big Idea, half a million is a lot to spend on any doc.
Unless it's one of the well-publicized exceptions, you'll never come
close to making back a tenth of that. With DV and editing on home
computers, shows can be done for far less.
James River Martin
Fan
Your paragraph 1.

Well said, and good point.


Your paragraph 2.

I'm very much inspired by two wonderful docs called (a) Manufacturing
Consent, and (b) The Corporation. I've watched both many times,
making a study of them. And I've watched the Additional Features, or
whatever they are called, on the DVDs--The parts not shown in the
theatre. These were huge projects, with lots of people working on 'em
over a long span of time. I never did learn how much they cost to
produce, but I did learn that they were partly funded by grants from
the Canadian government! Those Canadians!

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that "The Corporation" had a half
mil or more budget, especially including promotion.

Of course, I can remain inspired by these films and shoot a little
lower. ;)
Steve Holmes
Pro
I lost a bet.

No, I went to journalism school at Missouri with emphasis on
broadcast journalism, worked in public television for a local
station in Kansas City and started my own company, which is always
on life support.
Kathryn Burg
Fan
Does anyone have information on what sort of guidelines one should
follow when drawing up consent forms? I'm going to be shooting a
choir that's going on tour to England and Italy this summer. I
want to shoot mostly outside and inside the churches where they'll
be singing, although I will also be shooting the choir as they
take hikes and tour around the cities as a group. I know where
they'll be singing and where they'll be staying, but the tourist
spots will be on the fly. My crew consists of me (the recording
crew has requested separate informal permission from the
churches).

I was planning to send forms to the known locations in advance and
bring extras for the tourist spots. I've been told by the
directors of the tour that the churches might shy away from
signing official consent forms prior to filming (they may even bar
me from shooting at all), but they may be more open to it after
seeing the final cut. I'm planning to enter the final product into
film festivals, so I don't want to prevent myself from doing that,
but I don't want to scare anyone off, either. Any thoughts? Any
advice you could give or resources you could point me to would be
much appreciated. I leave in just under a month.
Steve Holmes
Pro
Welcome, Kathryn! Not sure about sending the forms. It gives the
more paranoid recipients time to worry and stew. Forms can look
intimidating when people don't know what's going to happen during
the taping. Gut feeling is I'd send them in advance only if someone
requests them.

Why might the churches bar you from taping? Image concerns?
Preserving the sanctity of the concert? I saw a doc of a choral
concert tour which includes the concerts. Your best selling point is
you and your sensitivity to their concerns and the promise of a
credit and festival exposure.

As to the on-the-fly tourist spots, can you find out a few minutes
in advance where the group will be going, then go in and ask
permission first? Be sure to promise a "Thanks to" credit.

Will you have a release form in Italian?
Kathryn Burg
Fan
Thanks for your thoughts, Steve! I get your gut feeling to not
send them in advance. Do you then think it's more appropriate to
ask them to sign the forms once I'm there in place or after I have
a cut to show?

Apparently, the churches sometimes take issue with the presence of
"equipment" during a solemn service. They have a legacy of
tradition backing them up (one is the staunchly traditional chapel
at Windsor Castle). I'll suggest tucking me and my camera out of
the way, but not too out of the way, if that's necessary. The
rehearsals are often a bit more interesting anyway, so as long as
I can convince them to let me shoot during those times, and at
services for at least some locations, I will live with it. And is
it true that I can use footage from a location without permission
as long as it's not recognizable?

For most of the tourist spots, I will know a bit in advance, so
I'll be sure to speed myself ahead of the group with form in hand
-- and polished sweet talking skills.

Luckily I speak Italian, so I'll be able to create a form for
those spots. I have a few English examples to work with, but if
you have any suggestions, or any links that might be good
reference, please pass them on. Thanks, again!
Steve Holmes
Pro
Kathryn:

I would have them sign the releases at the taping site. If you wait
until you show them a rough cut of the show, some of them might balk
because of how they feel they're being portrayed. It might not have
anything to do with the content or tone, but perhaps as trivial a
concern as someone's Bad Hair Day.

<<And is it true that I can use footage from a location without
permission as long as it's not recognizable?>>

Under American law, you don't need a personal release if a person is
not recognizable. I have no clue about how Britain and Italy view
such things. It's a good idea to have a location release.
Maureen Futtner
Fan
Hi, Documentary Mentors:

As always, I am grateful you folks are out here.

I am nearly done with production on my project, and even nearly done
logging, and am embarking on making a sample tape, then it's onto my
first assembly.

I am wondering at what point do I begin inquiring about licensing
rights for photos, music, footage I MIGHT want to use? Does one
simply wait until fine cut, or is it best to start putting feelers
out there now?

I don't plan to use a TON of non-original material, but there are a
few things out there that I definitely would love - including an R&B
song from the 60s, pages from an article which appeared in GQ
magazine, a clip or two from a FoxNews Talk show ... any wisdom as to
where, how and when I might begin inquiring about using this stuff?
I realize I could be way outta my league financially, but I'd like to
know just how far out I am. More specifically -
1. Do I go straight to the artist regarding the pop song? (if I can
find her)
2. Do I go straight to GQ and FoxNews? if so, which dept. do I
contact?
Thanks, in advance, for your help.
Maureen
Steve Holmes
Pro
Maureen:

When you start asking about licencing rights depends on how much
material you have and how vital it is. The more important it is, the
earlier I'd ask. For the more marginal stuff, I'd wait until I had a
good idea that I'd be using it. No use spending a lot of time
inquiring about material that won't make the final cut.

Some of the material might be covered under "fair use," but it can
be a grey area. Not sure whom to contact at GQ or Fox. You might
check their websites. I suppose I'd go to the artist about the pop
song, but I'd look into fair use, too.
Christina Frederick
Pro
Hi! I'm going to be travelling with a group of about 15 students from
a Caribbean island to NYC. We're shooting video of them (and they'll
be shooting video of each other) for a community-based documentary.
They are talented teen performers who have raised the money to travel
to NY to perform a show on Broadway that they have written and created
with Broadway professionals who are volunteering their time to the
project. We've been shooting their rehearsals and local performances
for months, and the kids will be filming each other's home lives and
families. Eventually we'll assist the kids in editing their own
full-length documentary of the experience and plan to market it to CPB
etc.

My question is about permits. The kids and I will be running around
the city for one week next month, doing touristy things, meeting
showbiz professionals, rehearsing and then performing. I'll be taping
on a Canon GL1 or a palmcorder, and the kids will also be taping each
other using small palmcorder units. I might have a light tripod with
me but that's the extent of the equipment we have. Do we need to apply
for insurance and NYC filming permits? I know we'll need releases from
recognizable people and interviewees, but -- will we need special
permission to film at city landmarks and in the theater where they're
performing?

Thanks so much. I did search the forum and the web but didn't find out
much about this topic as it relates to doc filming. Maybe no news is
good news?
Doug Block
Host
my feeling is... for the city streets, just go ahead and shoot. if
you're stopped, just say you're a film teacher and this is a class
exercise. worst that will happen is they tell you to move on.

landmarks and the theater are a different matter. if you want your
film broadcast, you'll need a release.
Christina Frederick
Pro
Doug,

Thanks. The research I've done indicates that any recognizable
storefront or business would need a release. As for being a film
teacher, I guess I could stop in Chinatown and get a fake ID! ;-)

I'll check with the mayor's office about landmarks. Maybe they'll have
some leads on who to contact for things like the Empire State Building
, Rockefeller or Lincoln Center... or department stores etc...

Another related question - I wonder in general if it is advisable - or
more disarming - to have the teens ask business owners for releases,
or if it's a better idea to have an adult (me) make the request. And
when asking a business owner, is it a good idea to describe where the
film will be shown? In general, are people more apt to sign releases
when they get the impression the film is going to be shown once at 3am
on cable access in a foreign country, or when they think they might
appear in the next Farenheit 911?

Doug, enjoyed your weddings website by the way. I liked those clips of
the photo session in central park, where you're following the couple
from a distance but hear family members chatting in the foreground.
Did you mix that audio in or was that ambient sound from the shot?
Really nice, really feels like being there, adds a lot of depth and
character to the scene. Inspiring, as I have raw footage of my own
wedding that I'll someday look at and edit...
Mandeep Sandhu
Pro
Hi,
I am an aspiring documentary maker. I have the idea and a rough plan
about the structure of the documentary itself. This documentary will
involve interviewing subjects as well as footage of locations
relevant to the subject. I have a sony trv33 digital camcorder.
1. Should I go start shooting footage and interviewing people with it
or do I need a professional quality digital video camera.

2 For sound I have a wireless mike that I can attach to camcorder
and a lapel mike clipped on the subject. I think the make is
lavalier. Will this suffice.

3. DO I need to register a non profit company for this project.
I plan to use footage to apply for funding later on. Also are there
any advantages froma tax point of view.

4. I could use some help with this. Ideally I would like a film
student, or someone in similar capacity, to work with me on this
project. Where can I scout for people like that.

I did try to read previous posts for answers to my questions but
could not find any. If answers to these questions have been posted
elsewhere please post a link and my apologies to repeat the question.

Mandeep
Doug Block
Host
Christina, I think it depends on the owner, you try to feel it out
when you talk to them, but I generally low key it. Try to make it
seem like it's no big deal, and the release is just for in case it
happens to ever get on tv. And I'd ask myself, not have the teens do
it.

Thanks for your compliments about my wedding clips (for those who
don't know, I shoot about a dozen weddings a year to support my doc
work). The audio in my wedding shoots is all done via a Sennheiser ME
63 mike mounted on top of my camera. I actually edit in the camera as
I shoot, and do it all as a one-man crew. For examples:
<www.dougblockweddings.com/video_clips.htm

Mandeep, in brief:

1. Don't know that camera well but you might want to start on it and
use your initial interviews to make a work sample to help you raise
money (to afford a better camera). In general, if it's not considered
broadcast quality, I'd wait, unless circumstances require you to shoot
an interview sooner than later.

2. lavaliers are ok for interviews but not for the audio for verite
footage. Look into a better directional mike.

3. No.

4. Put up an ad on Craig's List or Shooting People or some other list
serve.

Good luck!
Christina Frederick
Pro
Thanks Doug.

That's impressive that you edit your wedding shoots on the spot. (22
years of experience can't hurt!) Maybe the structured nature of a
wedding day helps, but I find that with most things I've worked on, I
really have to shoot and shoot and shoot to get the few moments that I
need and then really have to review everything at least once or twice
to make edit decisions. I should probably try to shoot a few short
stories in cam like that, what a great way to train yourself to see
the key points plus scene details of the story happening. Do you have
some kind of mental checklist of elements to capture, or discuss it
with your client beforehand? I imagine it's your talent plus
experience that gives you the confidence to make decisions so quickly,
and feel confident that you're capturing the moment even when you're
getting a "b-roll" shot away from the key players...

Also, how do you avoid having people react to the camera on a scene? I
often get people "jokingly" putting their palm up to the lens, or
mugging, or making an "oops" face and running to get out of the way...
do you ask people to ignore the camera?

I'm going to be helping my mother move out of her house where she's
lived for 35 years - was thinking of making that a personal project
this summer, to get her to look at her personal artifacts before she
packs them up, and describe their meaning to her, her history, her
life. Maybe that will be a good opportunity to try this in-cam editing
out!

How exactly do you edit in the camera? Do you take a few moments to
review tape after you shoot a sequence, and cue up to your next cut?
Or do you just edit your trigger finger, collecting all video
snapshots of the action as you go? What kind of cam do you shoot these
with?

I'm really awestruck that you can edit such a long piece on the fly.
Humbly prostrating at your feet! ;-) Thanks for sharing your time and
knowledge with us less experienced folks. This forum is really a godsend.
Doug Block
Host
hey christina, just got back from yet another wedding, so i'm kind of
tired, but if i don't answer now, probably won't get to it once
editing resumes tomorrow on my film (about my father moving from the
house i grew up in after my mother's death a few years ago, so a bit
similar to your idea, but i'm a little further along).

it's hard to advise people how to edit in camera. mainly, you have
to listen real hard, have a sense of editing, and a LOT of camera
experience. but it's also a lot of fun. don't think i could shoot
weddings as a side gig if it weren't for the challenge involved.

i do use my trigger finger as the chopping block. the on/off button
makes the edits as i go. i move around a lot, change angles a lot, do
a lot of combination pans and zooms. it's very zen-like, very
instinctive.

as to how to get people not to wave to the camera, i don't use a
light on my camera if i can possibly avoid it. my camera is a canon
gl-1, so it looks like a camcorder and lots of people bring camcorders
to weddings, so people usually think i'm just a guest. i try to act
really low key, never try to call attention to myself. and if they do
start to notice the camera and wave, i turn and walk away.

hope that helps. practice helps, too ;-)
John Philp
Fan
Hi All,
Quick question. I'm making a yoga doc. One of my main characters is a
controversial yogi. I've shot stuff of him hosting a yoga
'championship', giving a lecture, and doing a five-minute interview
with us, all at public events where we were a credited film crew.

Problem; He has not signed a release. And while trying to get a sit-
down interview with him, his people suddenly said he's 'under
contract' to another doc and can't be in mine. Where does this leave
the earlier footage I shot, in your estimation?

John Philp
Doug Block
Host
probably leaves it sitting on your shelf, john. certainly don't know
any broadcasters that would air it without the signed release.
Robert Goodman
Pro
you could call them and ask for a copy. Though I would suggest you
really only need the details when you have a deal and a show to deliver.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I have a question about filming on the street. I've seen
announcements by an MTV crew at a Staten Island Gay Pride Fair in a
public park notifying people that they might be filmed.

I put up such notices while filming at a similar event in Brooklyn.

Somehow, (probably because of my small camera) I managed to shoot some
film (getting verbal and signed releases) at an S&M street fair in
Manhattan.

However, the most fascinating thing I captured was a "public" humorous
"live" mummification. One fellow wrapped a 25-year-old "twinkie" in
saran wrap and shaving cream, then invited onlookers to hug him, cane
him, whatever--for which they would have to make a donation to a group
defending sexual freedom.

Various men and women caned him, hugged him, whipped him--and one even
spit a stream of water into his open mouth. Some of the males were
dressed in leather.

I learned later that MTV and some other video units had "pleaded" to
be allowed to come and film but were refused. The street fair was
technically "public". However, they had an entrance where a
"suggested donation of $5" was collected.

What risk would I take in editing this footage into a freely
distributed vlog?
Doug Block
Host
I'm no lawyer and you should really run that by an entertainment
lawyer specializing in new media. My guess is it's fine, especially
if you're not getting a lot of hits on your vlog. But the more
popular it gets, the more it could become a potential issue.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Then becoming involved in this new venue of vlogging just might put
you on the "ground floor" mapping out the new legal and social issues
involved.

I can only wonder what those who "work" at making documentaries and
struggle to ear a living doing it think of people who essentially give
their work away through vlogging?

Actually, I see vlogging as a truly democratic playing field when it
comes to video competition. You don't need a lot of financing or
intermediaries to vet your work.

You don't have to package your work to fit certain standard formats.
All you have to do is produce something that attracts an audience
and/or provokes controversy.

For that matter, once you have succeeded in attracting a following and
establishing a name, you should be able to grow from there into
commercial venues if you so wish.

Doug,thanks for the comment. The key words were "entertainment lawyer
specializing in new media".
Doug Block
Host
i think vlogging is pretty exciting, actually. if i had the time and
energy, i definitely do it - don't see the downside at all. but i
think for one to be successful you not only need talent as a filmmaker
but a really keen marketing sense. or agressive linkmaking, at least.

good luck, randolfe.
Jasmine Adams
Fan
Legal Issues.

I'm considering a documentary on teenagers who are acting out and
engaging in behaviour that is generally deemed socially unacceptable.
Where so I stand on this leagally? As they children are minors I
assume that the parents will have to sign the release forms...however
I am caught on how, exactly, to represent myself to their parents.
The whole point of the doco is the actions and behaviour of these
children that the parents don't know about.

I know doco makers have been caught on this in the past, so hopefully
someone here may be able to give me a heads up on exactly how to
approach this.
Erica Ginsberg
Host
Would recommend you take Doug's advice given to the vlogging question
above and consult an entertainment lawyer. You might also contact
the filmmakers of several films which have dealt with "minors
behaving badly" to see how they dealt with this slippery slope.
Doug Block
Host
ditto what erica said. you do NOT want to proceed too far without
good legal advice. be very careful with minors (and their possibly
outraged parents)!
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Doug, you suggest "aggressive linking". Are there some good resources
for learning about that.

I have heard that one should link to "anything" or "anyone" who links
back to you. In the past, I was very judicious about whom I linked
to. I felt a link on my site was almost an endorsement.

Is there a particular book or series of articles which lays all of
this out? I have two websites but am unable to do anything with them
since the fellow who used to work with me on the computer left.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I've done that some time ago. I've found helpful tutorials at
freeblog. There seem to be groups of vlogger who link to each other
to build traffic.

I was wondering if there are any specific resources as to "linking
stragedy"--whether selective links are better than unselective ones, etc.

There was a "counter" on a very excellent vlog, "vlog of a faux
journalist", and I was surprised at how little traffic her site received.

You can get a sampling of hilarious comedy with "the message" at
http://www.jonnygoldstein.com/2005/08/06/yanni_goldthtein_holithtic_healer_holithtic_videoblogging.php
Steve Holmes
Pro
Randolfe:

Are the people in the footage identifiable? Some folks might not
want the world to know they went to an S&M fair. I'd be very leery
of using footage that features identifiable people unless releases
were signed or faces are obscured just enough to cover you legally.

As to running this by an entertainment lawyer, do a Google search
for "Lawyers for the Creative Arts" to see if it has someone working
in your area.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I was aware of this while filming. I shot footage of a long line of
people (from the neck down) waiting in line to be admitted to a
"drinking area". They had to show I.D. to get in.

However, in the public mummification tape, many people were
identifiable. It is impossible to get releases from people when
shooting a street scene.

If someone is filmed dressed in shorts and a leather vest, smacking
his hand with a small whip and then paying (tipping) to swat the
volunteer mummifee on a public street in front of hundreds of people,
what could he claim?

The crowd was very mixed so far as orientation went--straight and
gay--but nearly all were into S&M. If you are into that scene, attend
a public event and are filmed walking around, what could your
objections be?

I'll certainly keep these concerns in mind during editing. I'm not
sure how difficult or expensive "blurring" faces would be.
Steve Holmes
Pro
Some people lead dual lives. They might be comfortable at the fair
among people who believe as they do -- and nobody's going to condemn
them -- but might be horrified at the notion that their visit to the
fair, complete with vests and whips, was now on the World Wide Web,
where it could be seen by parents, bosses, co-workers or even wives
who have no idea what their husbands are into.

Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you be leery about your
participation being uploaded for all to see?
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Well, I understand your point. However, as the first homosexual to go
on television and radio (1964 and 1962 respectively) and as the first
gay journalist to cover the emergence of an S&M community (1971), I
think you have to balance such concerns against the many people there
who willingly allowed themselves to be interviewed and videotaped.

I find it hard to square a mentality that is afraid of exposure with
someone who dressed "obviously" in a leather-daddy mode and publicly
induldged his desires in broad daylight, on a public street, before
dozens (possibly as many as a few hundred) onlookers.

Indeed, many of those participating seemed to enjoy being part of the
show. This public mummification was a humorous parody of the real
thing which would have been done privately, involved more restriction
and no shaving cream. The Saran Wrap and shaving cream buffered the
blows and made them painless. The whole thing was really a public
celebration of S&M sex.

I'd argue one shouldn't "dance in the streets" if one doesn't want to
be seen (and video-taped). I was obviously filming for a full 57
minutes. Everyone could see me. True, they might have thought I was
making home movies. That's all vlogs are--home movies uploaded to the
Internet.
Doug Block
Host
my guess is vlogs are pretty new ground concerning privacy issues.
you could always push the limits and possibly become a test case. test
cases get lots of publicity ;-)
Melissa Dopp
Fan
Randolfe, I thought BDSM scenes involved "safe, sane, and consensual"
negotiations (public or private). By not seeking permission from your
subjects, are you not transgressing a basic tenet of BDSM? There is a
site for queer podcasting that will probably branch out to include
queer vlogging; I think it's called qPodder. Maybe you can push them
toward the inclusion of vlogging? I guess I'm curious about your
target audience - would folks within the BDSM scene really be
interested in your footage for archival purposes or are you hoping to
exploit sexual identities for a larger, more generalized cyber
audience?
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Well, I am not personally involved in BDSM so I don't feel I've
entered into any public or private "safe, sane and consensual"
contracts of an especially restrictive nature.

I donated to the cause of sexual freedom, showed my appreciation to
the performers by kissing the mummifee's hand and sending the two
performers copies of their performance.

I've asked them to sign releases, even offered to share any commercial
gains. However, I'm not sure either is necessary. I guess I'd have
to check case law about street performers or consult an entertainment
lawyer.

Lawyers cost a lot of money. If I'm simply sharing videotapes I've
made (for free) with others via vlogging, why is that so different
from showing it to a large party filled with friends? In both cases,
people have come to your apartment (or vlog)to see your videos.

There is a blog at http://www.tonyhayden.com where this fellow posts
weekly coverage of his most personal life. Last week, he included
footage of professional shows at a private gay resort in Orlando.

Thanks for the suggestions regarding qPodder. There is a "make your
own vlogroll" at http://videoblogging-universe.com/ which includes
about sixty vloggers including at least one transexual.

My target audience is AMAP--that is, As Many As Possible! I want to
explore the world with the whole world watching. A small ambition?
Melissa Dopp
Fan
Well, the erosion of the supposed public/private split that folks
used to hang ethical considerations upon is interesting. One could
argue that your apartment space represents a "private space" while the
Internet vlogging space represents a "public space" so, there is a
difference. One could also argue that re-representing a sexual
community, in your case (as an outsider), will do absolutely nothing
to promote "sexual freedom" (if indeed such an ideal can be defined,
let alone achieved from a hetero-legal p.o.v.). Why not push the
envelope and see what legal walls you bump up against using newer
technologies to promote "sexual freedom"?
Steve Holmes
Pro
Randolfe:

It's possible that the people who attended see the "contract" in a
different way. Heard the phrase, "What happens in Vegas stays in
Vegas"? My guess is that it's the same way here. Sure, people saw
you taping, but probably assumed you were doing it for your own
amusement rather than to share wtih as many as possible all over the
world.

I have a friend who is a swinger and goes to swinger parties.
Everyone there is comfortable because everyone there participates in
the hobby. Nobody's judging anyone else. Yet these same folks would
be horrified to see themselves in a video of the party that popped
up on a swingers' website.

In each case, we're talking about a subculture that is frequently
ridiculed and condemned. Those who are part of it are happy to let
it all hang out among their friends in the lifestyle, but don't want
to be "outed" on the Internet. This kind of thing ruins careers and
lives. I don't know how to obscure faces. Some more techie types may
have an answer. But it seems that would get your point across
without outing people who weren't expecting it. Otherwise, it would
be wrong to use the unaltered footage.

What everyone is saying is tread very carefully -- both to keep
yourself out of potential legal trouble and to protect the rights of
those who were videotaped.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I think the authentic spirit of the event, the genuine laughter and
the way people were "playing" in a public fethistic way is the best
defense and explanation for their lifestyle.

The thing that has made vlogging so attractive to me is how it
demolishes all the B.S. about "releases", "permissions", "licenses",
"backers", "distributors", etc. etc. etc.

I gave up professional writing years ago and cancelled a book contract
I'd been given by Random House. I didn't write for four years. When
I took pen-in-hand on a dare by Al Goldstein and wrote an article for
Screw, my article got Screw busted. It was the apex of my writing career.

Now, vlogging opens the gate of visual freedom to all those who dare
to pass through it. Vloggers are like libertarians who have finally
found a really "free" environment.

An artist or entertainer or expose artist only needs to produce
material that attracts a following on the level world-wide playing
field of the Internet.

You might note that the http://www.tonyhayden.com site has an "adult
material" disclaimer on it. Little precautions like that should be
all the parameters we need.

No red lights! No stop signs! Lights, camera, action--full speed ahead!
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
This isn't supposed to be a discussion board and I don't want to be
too distracting. However, I made a list of resources to share with
vloggers who respond to my postings. I've found nearly every vlogger
I left a comment for responded warmly and in a very welcoming way.
Here is the list for your exploration:
The best discussion I’ve found about digital video has been at:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/

The best overall source I have found for finding late vlogs is through
this site. Click on the “make your own vlogroll” link above the
displayed video frames on the opening page. By checking those vlogs
that look interesting and then continuing to the bottom of the page,
you can have them open in a vertical row and you can check them out
quickly.
http://videoblogging-universe.com/

Two programs at the Soho Apple store this month include these two
“special events”.
IndieWIRE Presents
Join indieWIRE (www.indiewire.com) for a special presentation by one
of today’s leading independent filmmakers and learn how Apple
technology is used in the filmmaking process. For more information
visit, www.apple.com/retail/soho.
August 26, 7:30 p.m.
Videoblogging
Join videobloggers as they show their favorite videos and viewing
tools, discuss video blog creation, and share tips and techniques.
Learn how you can create your own video blog for free!
August 27, 7:00 p.m.
A vlog that does a pretty good job when stacked up against
professional commentators/newscasters
is:http://www.rocketboom.com/vlog/archives/2005/08/rb_05_aug_01.html
The funniest and most talented humorous vlog I’ve found to date is:
http://www.jonnygoldstein.com/2005/08/06/yanni_goldthtein_holithtic_healer_holithtic_videoblogging.php

A vlog that is polished and professional, one that loads and plays in
a way that proves real quality is possible can be found at:
http://fauxpress.blogspot.com/2005/08/kites-meditation-on-romantic-love.html

A vlog which is so open about personal matters, it is absolutely
chilling, can be found at: (updated every Monday)
http://www.tonyhayden.com/
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I applied a couple weeks ago. The email was blocked and I had to do a
second something to make sure it went through to you.

I never received an answer. Should I try again? Could you send a
link to my email rhwicker@optonline.net and I'll put it in as my reply?

Thanx.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
When I click the link, this is the form I get. I'm at a loss as to
how to proceed.


<html>
<head>
*<title>The D-Word Community: Access Request 1</title>
</head>


<body bgcolor="#000033" text="#FFFFFF" link="#FFFF99" vlink="#FFFF99"
alink="#99FF99" onLoad="document.form1.userid.focus()">
*<form action="http://www.d-word.com/cgi-bin/dbman/db.cgi"
method="post" name="form1">
**<input type=hidden name="db" value="default">
**<input type=hidden name="uid" value="">
<table width="715" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
<tr>
*<td width="125" valign="top"><a
href="http://www.d-word.com/index.html"><img
src="http://www.d-word.com/graphics/vertDword.gif" width="125"
height="635" align="top" border="0"></a></td>
*<td width="7"></td>
*<td width="1" bgcolor="white"></td>
*<td width="7"></td>
*<td width="575" valign="top">
***<div align="left">
***<img src="http://www.d-word.com/graphics/dWordLogo4.gif"
width="150" height="76"></div><br>
********<br>
********<br>
***<table border=0 bgcolor="#000033" cellpadding=5 cellspacing=0
width=575 align=center valign=top>
***<tr><td bgcolor="#003366">

*****<center><font face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular"
size="4"><b>
******Joining The D-Word Community - Step 1 of 3</font>
*****</b></font></center></td></tr><tr><td><br>
*****<font face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular"
size="2">Please enter <b>exactly the same</b> user name and password
that you chose when you registered for <nobr>The D-Word Forum</nobr>
(our public area) at Café Utne.<br><br>
If you don't have a Café Utne user name and password yet, you need to
<a
href="http://www.d-word.com/register/dwordsignup.html"><nobr>register
for The D-Word Forum</nobr></a> <b>before</b> joining The D-Word
Community.
*****<br><br>
<b>User name and password must be entered in lowercase.</b><br><br>
*****<table border=0>
*****<tr><td><Font face="Arial, Helvetica" Size=2
Color=#336699><b>User Name:</b></FONT></td>
******<td><input type="TEXT" name="userid" value=""></td></tr>
*****<tr><td><Font face="Arial, Helvetica" Size=2
Color=#336699><b>Password:</b></FONT></td>
******<td><input type="PASSWORD" name="pw" value=""></td></tr>
*****</table>
<br>
Café Utne is our conferencing platform. As part of their privacy
policies, Café Utne and The D-Word don't exchange any user data. To
make our database work, <b>The D-Word Community relies on you to
supply us with the correct user name and password to match your Café
Utne account.</b> During the next steps, we will ask you for
information once again that you might have supplied already when you
registered for Café Utne. Thank you for understanding this.
*****<p align=center><center><input type="SUBMIT" name="signup"
value="Continue"></center></p>
***</td></tr>
**</table>
*</center></td></tr></table>
*</form>***<BR>
***<BR>
**<center><font
face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular"><font
size="-1">Copyright &copy; 2003, <a href="mailto:doug@d-word.com">Doug
Block</a> and <a href="mailto:ben@d-word.com">Ben Kempas</a>. All
rights reserved.<br>Database powered by <A
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Inc.</A><br>The information in this database is intended for the
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prohibited.<br></font></font></center>

</body>
</html>
Doug Block
Host
Don't know why you go to that page, Randolfe. It's not the one I'm
linking to.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I clicked on the link in your posting. It comes to a page which
reads:(I'll edit to make shorter)

"After registering with Café Utne, you'll need to fill in an access
request for The D-Word Community that has three steps:

* In step 1, we ask you for your Café Utne user name and password.
* In step 2, we would like to hear why you wish to join and what
you feel you could add to the discussions.
* In step 3, we want to get an idea of your professional
documentary experience. You can also enter other details for our
database at this stage, but only city, country, and email address will
be required. "

The "access request" is underscorded. I click on that and get the
scrambled HTML posted previously. If I'm missing something, please
advise me as to what I am doing wrong.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Some of those visiting here might be interested in the following
information.

This site has great free tutorials:

http://freevlog.org/

Also, Friday night, August 12th, there is going to be an interesting
program at Apple’s store in SoHo which is located at 103 Prince Street.

One Hour Film School
In one hour, learn to create your own film or documentary with
low-budget digital filmmaking techniques. All equipment necessary is
available at The Apple Store.
August 12, 7:30 p.m.
Doug Block
Host
by following step one, you get to a small window that asks for your
cafe utne user name and password. are you getting that?
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
Yes, I sign in every time using it (it's saved for me). I tried
registering again, thinking it might be necessary, and got this
accurate message:



PLEASE SUPPORT AN INDEPENDENT CAFE UTNE:
Make a one-time contribution or become a monthly sustainer today!
*DonateNow
Visit our Independent Partner Forums
Error
rhwicker@optonline.net already has an account: randolfe


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CAFE UTNE > *Home | Your Hotlist and Directory | Independent Forums |
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Ben Kempas
Pro
I just tested the access request pages, and sadly I have the same
problem on Opera. It looks fine on Internet Explorer, though.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I used Mozilla. I'll try again using Internet Explorer. I thought
the problem was with the link on theD-Word site or in my computer.
I never thought it could be the web browser.

I had trouble accessing Ameritrade through Mozilla because they said
Mozilla connected me "through a link". When I used Internet
Explorer, I had no problem.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
I just tried using Internet Explorer and everything worked. I think
you should mention the necessity of using Internet Explorer.

I tried before, was unsuccessful, and sent an email. Actually, I
missed the public forum section the first time around. I ended up
getting involved elsewhere.

I started using Mozilla because the About Technology daily
newsletter and/or Wired Internet News suggested it. I was getting
too many pop-ups on IE. Mozilla has been much better in that regard.

However, someone who might be a real asset might encounter the same
problem I and the Opera user encountered and simply give up and
leave.

The problem with having two browsers is that you have two sets
of "favorites" or "bookmarks". You sometimes have to search both
lists to find the link you want.
Ben Kempas
Pro
I'm still trying to figure out why this happens... hope to have it
fixed soon.
Ben Kempas
Pro
OK it should be fixed now. An HTML line was missing, IE just
tolerated the error.

Very sorry for any inconvenience the mistake has caused.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
No problem. Just as long as things are fixed now, everything is
fine.
Tim Pearce
Pro
Hi,

I'm a newbie Canadian filmmaker living for a while in Osaka, Japan. I
am shooting a no-budget documentary about my time in Japan (and then
India as well for an additional 8 months). My project in self-financed
(so far) and I hope to join with the National Film Board beginner
filmmaker programme for them to act as producers and possible
distributors after I return to Canada. This is my first production and
I don't know what to expect in terms of final use but I'm hoping for
at least some small festivals and maybe some very small canadian
release of some sort. I am the only crew member and I am in the midst
of contacting the Osaka city government for permission to shoot in the
streets, and also a train company about trains/subways. I send a DVD
copy of my footage that I want to use off the the city Film Council
and was told today that most companies or buildings would want a usage
fee for me to use my footage in my doc. I was told that at least 2
places would want 60000 Yen (about 550$ U.S.) each! This is way out of
my non-existant budget which for the most part has been used to buy a
camera and editing setup. My budget so far (mostly on equipment) has
been about 9000$US. Seeing as I have 6-7 locations like that, I'm not
sure what to do. Are usage fees standard for location shoots? Any
suggestions from people who have dealt with this issue? Thanks!!
Doug Block
Host
ahem, i'm no lawyer and, ahem, OF COURSE you should consult a
lawyer... but no, they're not standard. i've never paid a location
fee. just be as unobtrusive as you can and shoot it.
Randolfe Wicker
Pro
It sounds like a rip off to me. I'm no expert. However, I've read
a lot of discussions and have had experiences with several
documentary makers.

From what they say, you run into all these "release" problems when
you try to get your final product broadcast on television. I gather
that "release" problems are not nearly such a problem when it comes
to getting film festivals to show your work.

I gather you are not in a position to "give" your work away. I
personally am going to try vlogging segments (five minute sections)
of a documentary I am working on to create interest and gather a
following. You can check out vlogging by looking at tutorials on
www.freevlog.org There is a great Yahoo Videobloggers Group.
However, you'll be buried in a hundred emails daily if you get them
delivered individually.
Maureen Futtner
Fan
I imagine if I want to use stills of stories from a newspaper or
magazine, I certainly have to get permission to license rights to
that, right? Whom, or what department, would I contact at a
newspaper or periodical?

Thanks, as always, for being here.

Maureen
Doug Block
Host
In short... yes, you do. They may have a legal dept. or you could
try the editor in chief. Doesn't really matter. Just explain what
you're doing and ask for whoever it is you'd need to talk to.
Steve Holmes
Pro
Michael posted: <<I am currently working on a documentary about an
Iraq war veteran, who shot his own video footage in Iraq, and has
since been speaking out against the war, including in the local
Binghamton, NY area, Crawford, TX for Camp Casey, etc.

Are there any grants or film financers interested in the current
political climate?>>

Probably so, but the potential for controversy might scare off a lot
of groups. I wonder if I heard right, that Michael Moore provides
funding for "leftie" kinds of shows.

One group that controversy won't scare off is ITVS
(http://www.itvs.org/), a funding arm of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting. You can apply for a production contract (they don't
like the term "grant") on your own or join forces with a PBS
affiliate and go through the LInCS program.

You might try the Foundation Center's database search
(http://fdncenter.org/funders/grantmaker/index.html). Enter a
relevant keyword. The Center has donated copies of its core
collection of grantwriting books to libraries around the country.
Check the website (http://fdncenter.org/collections/) for the
collection nearest you.


<<I have a good fifty hours shot.>>

Have you put a trailer together, a three- to five-minute piece that
features your best bang-up, rockum-sockum material? That's your best
bet for funding: show 'em the story you have so far.
Michael Lieberman
Fan
Thanks for those tips.

I'm kind of struggling with this political mess. I am indeed to the
left, but I'm doing my best to understand this individual from a
non-political standpoint.

In my opinion, the problem with the recent leftist films is that they
are not terribly cinematic. Perhaps not even films, but essays or tv
programs in a different medium.

They also don't look at the subjects and/or subject matter from a
"foreign" point of view, and by that I mean from the point of view an
outsider, not in the loop. Of course anyone in the left (or right) can
identify with some filmic gestures on the part of whomever is behind a
camera, as their political cinema eye and ear makes these notations.

I'm seriously trying to shed as much slant as I can, but not my identity.

And I will put a five minute piece together. I think a visual
explanation is far better than my huffy-puffy way of doing so verbally.

Again, thanks again for those tips. I will look into all of them.
Laura Harvey
Pro
Hi I have been in video production/media services long time. Now I
want to start my own business and want to produce several
documentary videos and selling to schools and individuals. I am
not sure how to produce documentary, legal issues. Is there a book
or a place that I can read and understand the process? In my
hopefully documentary that actress in movies and TVs and i would
like to use some clips. How can I get them? fee? who right person
to contact about it? Thanks
Maria Vougioukalaki
Pro
i think this is the right post to ask you guys(sorry if its a stupid
question...)
ok so i have to do my dissertation and i was thinking music
documentary..I looked up a lot and pa pennebaker seems to be the guy
for the job:p
what do u think ???Im not really fond of bob dylan or rolling stones
(sorry dont yell:p)but i do love the beatles and also monterey pop
looks interesting..Apart from that im a HUGE fan of electro pop any
suggestions for documentaries on that?Pennebaker's film on (my fave
group of ALL time)depeche mode though i havent watched seems more
like "greatest hits moments on a tour" than real documentary, what do
u think?
thx anyway:)
Doug Block
Host
it's actually d.a. pennebaker, maria (although i saw him the other
day and found out he's got 8 kids, so i guess he is a pa). anyway,
he'd be fantastic for your dissertation, imho.
Maria Vougioukalaki
Pro
hey there doug!!
jesus im so ashamed of that(which makes really not informed on the
subject:(...)..thanx a lot!!!!
ps1:u actually know the guy???Could it be possible(maybe im too
optimistic) to contact him somehow??(wow 8 kids!!!)
ps2)what did u think about the depeche mode film???
Doug Block
Host
yes, you could contact him - do a google search, but i think there's
hegedus/pennabaker film company. he's a sweet guy, very approachable.
haven't seen the depeche mode film, alas.
Maria Vougioukalaki
Pro
thanks again!!he must be sweet hes into music docs plus a father of
8!!!!
i have to rent it ha??maybe ill just buy it when/if i get paid...:(
Wilson Santos
Fan
hi

i just joined this forum and found a lot of good info from reading
through the site. i have a couple of questions i'm hoping some one
here can help me with. i've never shot a doc before but have ideas
for several. i'd like to start asap but have no funds. no experience
with video as my background is film school.

questions
1. would it be best to buy a camera or rent for a first time outing?
if i buy, is the panasonic dvx-100a a good choice? is there anything
a little cheaper that can get the job done?

2. since i have no funds, but might be able to scrape up enough for
the camera, should i begin shooting in the hopes that more funds will
come my way? i have ideas for fund raising but i need to start
shooting my subjects asap.

3. is it difficult to acquire archived news footage from some of the
top networks? if not, is it expensive?

4. i'll have a very small crew of myself, a camera guy and a sound
guy. i don't have to pay either of them and i won't have to pay any
of the subject i'm interviewing. i don't think i'll be paying for
locations either. where will my expenses come from? what is it that
will cost me the most? is there an easy way to estimate the cost? i
will probably have to pay an editor unless i try and learn the
software on my own. i can provide my own original music no problem.

5. is there a standard release form for interviewees? if so, where
can i get a copy of it? if not, what should i include when i draft a
release form?

i know this is a big load. any tips would be greatly appreciated.
great forum btw
Robert Goodman
Pro
1. Find a camera operator who owns equipment and convince her/him that
your project is worth doing.

2. If you are in the US, start shooting. Put together a trailer and
use that to raise money.

3. News footage from the networks is easy to acquire. It is also very
expensive.

4. If you don't pay people you'll need to cover their meals, travel,
hotel, etc. There is no easy way to estimate your costs. Don't learn
software - hire an editor who knows how to tell stories. If that isn't
in your budget - buy a book about how to tell stories - "Editing
Digital Video" (the one I wrote) or Walter Murch's book. Then get one
of the free software programs that does simple cuts and dissolves for
whichever computer platform you like.

5. There are standard release forms available on the web. Search.
Erica Ginsberg
Host
Assuming you don't need to travel for your shoots and you don't have
to pay your crew, your biggest expenses will likely be post-
production (editing, sound mix, color correction, getting rights to
archival, etc.) and outreach (website, postcards, attending
festivals, markets, etc.)
Wilson Santos
Fan
thank you robert and erica for your insights. i figured the biggest
expense would be in post production. i am a music producer and work
with logic on the mac, so i can handle that aspect. robert you are
right, i probably wouldn't want to learn the software since i'm
already involved in so much else at the moment. do you know the going
rate for a video editor?

my project would rely mainly on interviews, shooting real time action
and some news archives, so i guess the bulk of the budget will be in
the archives. i'll look into it.

thanks for the advice.
Robert Goodman
Pro
again - enlist someone to help you. Doc editors charge from $1500 a
week on up. Figure for every hour of footage, you'll need 2.5 days. A
rough guess.
Jamila Gaskins
Fan
I'm sure someone has spoken of this, but I'm wondering about writing
query letter to a production company, the format, etc. I introduced
myself in July. I'm developing a movie about living with HIV/AIDS in
America. I just finished training for and running the Dublin marathon
to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles. This is my first movie.
I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction.
Thanks in advance.
Doug Block
Host
what is it exactly that you're looking for from this production
company, jamila? and why don't you try to arrange for a meeting in
person? i would think that would be much more effective.
Jamila Gaskins
Fan
Doug,

I've never produced a film before so it's all new to me, budgeting,
crew, etc. I've begun my research and have contacts across the
country willing to help with the story, but I am in need of help
putting it all together. The person I spoke with at the company said
I should proceed with a query letter. But I'd love a meeting
instead. I agree it would be much more effective.
Ross Williams
Pro
I'm editing a personal documentary right now... when I began shooting
it, I didn't have much plans of trying to get it released or
anything, but as it's coming together I think I'll at least try to
show it at festivals... and if it all works out, I'd love to sell it.

Since I wasn't planning ahead for that I didn't get release forms
from any of the places that I was shooting. (I did get some release
forms from people that I knew I wouldn't be able to track down again.
And plan on getting release forms from my friends and family that
appear in the film.)

My question is, what sort of legalities are behind the places that I
shot. The majority of it takes place in our old apartment?... will I
need to get a release from the owners. My biggest concern is the
hospital where we shot some footage?... If I don't tell the viewer
where we are exactly and never have any identifying features, do I
still need a release form?

Can anybody answer these questions or point me towards a website or
book that'll answer them for me?

I'm a newbie at the legal side of it, been shooting guerilla style
for years.

Thanks!
Doug Block
Host
i'm not a lawyer but... i don't get location releases for my docs,
personal or otherwise, unless it's a really obvious place (say, yankee
stadium, disneyland) that would sue my ass in the blink of an eye. do
get releases from your friends and family. like, right away.

www.marklitwack.com is a good site for legal stuff.
Marc Maurino
Pro
hi there, i'm afraid this may have been asked before but after some
fairly extensive searching i can't find if it has or not. i'll be
shooting a short doc that will be some talking heads, some action, not
too much big landscape, some handheld stuff. my ultimate goal is film
festivals and public television, and i'm shooting on one chip mini DV.
do folks have any opinions on shooting 16:9 vs. 4:3? I think
widescreen (16:9) looks so much better, and I imagine it would be more
appropriate for television also. (PS I'll be editing in FCP.) Any
opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Doug Block
Host
as far as i know, hbo and pbs still want 4:3, while many foreign
broadcasters, like the bbc, for instance, want 16:9 (though zdf/arte,
which i pre-sold my current doc to, was fine with 4:3). it's easy
enough to make a 16:9 master from 4:3 footage - might be harder the
other way around.

that said, by the time you're done, u.s. tv may be going more towards
16:9. it's a hard issue.

personally, i'd opt for a 3-chip dv camera rather than one chip.
that's a huge quality difference, without a huge difference in
expense.
Georg Schmitt
Pro
Yes do get a 3 chip, and shoot in 4:3 since most consumer cameras fake
16:9 mode is worse than just cropping the picture later in post.


Hey, I have a different format question, that is 52 or 58 min.?
Here in Europe we have a 43:30 slot, but since I own the international
rights on the project I´m working on right now I opt for a int.
distribution. I have heared about both lenght´s reffered as one TV
hour, now I´m not sure what would be best?

In addition I´d like to ask a similar question about festival formats.
Is there a min. lenght for major sections or festivals.

Thanx so much for your help, I hope that hasn´t been discussed 100
before.
G.
Doug Block
Host
i believe sundance lumps any film over 45 min. into the doc feature
category. others, like berlin, wants an hour or more (don't know if
they consider 52min an hour, but i think they would 58). i'd look at
the websites of the various festivals you're considering and read
their eligibility requirements.

an int'l sales agent i've used, films transit, has told me he doesn't
have a problem with anything between 52 and 60 min. for sales to
broadcasters with one hour slots. in the u.s., pbs generally likes 57
min.
John Philp
Fan
Hi. Great forum.
I'm working on a doc about yoga that is 90 percent shot, 25 percent
edited. I have a few private investors interested, each good for a
small fraction of the budget, i.e. $10,000 of $400,000. What can I
tell these investors to ‘expect’? I’ve heard “first monies will repay
the capital contribution of the investors” is a good thing to say,
but I have no idea what it means. I’ve also heard a 50-50 split of
the profits between investors and producers is typical. But that only
seems to make sense if one investor funds the whole thing. Very
confusing.
Also, I’ve been told I need to provide a “limited offering
memorandum” and maybe a “Limited Partnership Agreement”. Does anyone
know a good, NYC-based lawyer who could cheaply draft such an
agreement?
Thanks,
JP
Marc Maurino
Pro
thanks for the advice about 4:3 and 3ccd. I'm taking both bits of
advice, i'll shoot in 4:3 and do my best to borrow a 3ccd from the
local cable access channel when I can.

onward for more advice: first of all, is there a reliable "search"
function to go through the discussions so that if a question was asked
before we can find the answer? i've been trying to figure it out to
no avail.

secondly: has anyone ever made a documentary about good friends, and
if so, how did it work out, did you explicitly lay out any ground
rules (ie, tonight is pizza and beer, no filming or talk of filming),
were there any lessons you learned the hard way, what worked and
didn't work; as a corollary question, has anyone ever directed a doc
in which you had a significant interest in the outcome of the
subject's journey? how did that work, what did you learn/caveats,
etc. any real experience advice or opinions are welcomed.

here's the quick background: i'm embarking on a film about the nine
month run-up to the opening of a montessori school, as a married
couple will (hopefully) find the funding, get the space, and get
children signed up. there will be informational meetings with
interested parents, meetings with real estate agents, signing a lease,
renovating a space, planning the curriculum, signing up children, etc.
the married couple also happen to be our neighbors, our very good
friends, and we intend to send our child to the school.

i'm interested in doing a doc not as a promo piece but to document the
nine month journey starting now (they've already been working at this
a long time) to the start of the school in september. the subjects
are game as it appeals to their desire for transparency as they build
this school, and because they trust me. i intend to do several
interviews but also to document a lot of their journey such as the
real estate stuff, etc., etc. i support what they're doing
wholeheartedly and have been on an informal steering committee of
parents for the past year; plus, of course, i've been to dinner at
their house or them at mine countless times and shared thanksgiving
and christmas at my house, our children are friends, etc.

am i looking for trouble, or will some good ground rules keep us all
friends a year from now?
Georg Schmitt
Pro
Thanks Doug,

that was a great help!
Since I finally found my password again,
I eventually may give up my longtime lurker existence;-)

Greetings from India
g.
Doug Block
Host
john, there are some good books out there that would deal with
limited partnerships. too complicated to give a quick answer (not
that i fully understand it). just curious why a doc on yoga costs
400K (i imagine investors would be, too). are you shooting on
location all over the world?

marc, my most recent film, 51 birch street, is all about my parents
marriage and our family history. i dealt with your issue basically by
saying trust me, and by honoring their honesty with me by making as
honest and truthful a film as i'm capable of making. i did NOT bring
them into my shooting or editing process, but did allow each family
member a chance to see an early rough cut (my father first) and let me
know if there was anything in there they thought was unfair or untrue.
fortunately, they were all fine with it. and now that it's out doing
festivals (and especially because the response has been so
overwhelmingly positive), they're very proud of the film.
Marc Maurino
Pro
doug, i just read through the entire "51 birch street" web site, and
i was moved and touched by your honesty and the depth it appears you
went to in a family way on that project. i can't wait to see it.

i'm intending to have another (and perhaps more after that) in depth
conversations with my subjects to talk about what may happen if and
when we hit some rough patches. what if i capture them fighting?
will they say "camera off, please?" and if so, will i feel that my
efforts to make an honest film are getting so hamstrung that i can't
be honest, and then feel compelled to trash the project and then be
regretful and annoyed with them . . . these are worst case scenarios,
but i feel compelled to visit them now rather than later.

i think your trust and honesty approach is key, and i intend to
practice it myself, to the best of my ability. thanks for weighing
in.
Ben Kempas
Pro
Georg, are you the guy from Stuttgart who originally signed up with
the user name "georg"? If yes, you should also use the more specific
topics inside our professional area, {LINK NOT IMPORTED}.
John Philp
Fan
Hi Doug, I'll look for some books. Yes, the $400,000 budget
includes i/nat. travel/production and frequent trips in the US, as
well as lots of music and archival pix issues. (The doc also
serves as a social history, in a way.) Most of the investors don't
balk at the figure but other filmmnakers do, including me
sometimes. I've always worked much lower budget, and may end up
doing this film for less as well.
Doug Block
Host
marc, i suggest you tell them if there's a time when they really want
you to stop shooting, then let you know and you'll honor their
request. otherwise, i don't think i'd set up elaborate ground rules.
just be sensitive to any emotional situations as they unfold and use
your common sense.
Georg Schmitt
Pro
Yes Ben, it´s me but i have problems to log in there!
Coul´d you help me with that?
And by the way, i always was looking forward to meet you one day,
hopefully some time soon.
g.
Marc Maurino
Pro
Hi folks. I'm shooting a documentary as a "one man band"--mostly with
my own 1 chip, but when i can get it from the local cable access
channel, i'll be using their JVC GY DV500 (3 ccd.) in no particular
order, a few questions:

1. has anyone ever used this JVC camera, and if so, any caveats,
complaints, or compliments? (i'm assuming it's better than my 5 year
old Sony DCR-TRV11, though truth be said, i've been blessed with that
camera.) also, since i'll be buying mini DV tapes in bulk, should i
go with JVC, or Sony, or some other brand, and how high quality do i
need to go? in bulk at BH Photo video i'm looking Sony premium DVM
60s running about 3$ a pop, which fits my (non-existent) budget.

2. The cable access channel said i'll need to buy a new battery for
the JVC, they lost theirs or something. i've done some internet
searching and found some online battery places that have compatible
batteries for about $55. am i doing the right thing here or do i need
to find a JVC-manufactured battery?

3. Naturally i want great sound and don't have a boom operator, so
i'm investing in a shotgun mic. in the BH PHoto Video catalog i'm
looking at an Azden SGM-X shotgun mic for about $130, a Sennheiser
MKE300 for $170, and a Sony stereo condenser mic for $80. Any
recommendations about these or any others you swear by? I really
don't want to go over $200, and am only willing to go that far because
I obviously know the importance of really good sound.

4. I have a something which was given to me which I realize now is a
Beach Tek Dual XLR audio adapter DXA 4 for Sony cameras. Is this
going to be compatible and/or necessary for a shotgun mic?

5. My doc is not, thus far, proving to be something where I can set
up lights and all that; I'm documenting a couple who are starting a
small private (Montessori) school and most of what I'm catching is
them having business meetings with the bank, the business plan guy,
interviews with them about their partnership and philosophy, scouting
out the (potential) school space, giving informational meetings for
parents, meeting with realtor, etc. Since I'm shooting on DV, and
mostly 1 chip for that matter, what would you, experienced D-worder,
recommend as the things I absolutely should (or should not, as the
case may be) be doing when I'm shooting? As you can see, good sound
is something I'm paying attention to, but should I absolutely have a
single light i'm setting up behind my camera, or invest in an
expensive tripod (i have a lightweight one that i set up and then
don't touch), etc? Professional experience and words of wisdom are
greatly appreciated by us first timers.

As always, thanks in advance!
Doug Block
Host
no time to answer now, marc, but i highly recommend you not post so
many questions at one time. it's a bit overwhelming for us time-
challenged folks. one quick thought, though: go with sennheiser.
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