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The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

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.

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Stephen Cooper
Thu 8 Dec 2011Link

Hi, everybody—

I’m new to the D-Word, new to the world of documentary filmmaking, and I have a ton of questions. I’ll confine this post to question number 1 but first a few words of introduction.

I’m a writer in Los Angeles, working in collaboration with a veteran European filmmaker on the development of a doc film project that’s been accepted into IDA’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. On page one of the FSP Agreement it says that as Project Manager I’m required “to obtain appropriate liability insurance for all aspects of the project in an amount of not less than $1,000,000, which shall name IDA as an additional insured.”

I’d like to ask folks with experience in this area where I should (and maybe also should not) go to inquire about such insurance, how much I should expect to pay, if there are some plans better than others, etc. Any and all information will be appreciated.

Many thanks, and it's great to be part of this group--

Steve Cooper

P.S. Thanks to Lisa Hasko of IDA for telling me about the D-Word!


Stephen Cooper
Fri 16 Dec 2011Link

Here's my second question for the Mentoring Room and it's also about insurance. At what point in the long process of development should Errors & Omissions coverage be purchased? Compared to liability insurance, the quotes for E&O are way more expensive. Early on, we're trying to figure out the best way to spend what money we have. Any thoughts or anecdotes will be appreciated--

Steve


Doug Block
Fri 16 Dec 2011Link

Stephen, wait until you're finished (or close to finished) and have a sense of what your distribution will be. You'd need it mainly for theatrical and broadcast, so why pay for it when you may not ultimately need it?


James Longley
Fri 16 Dec 2011Link

Basically, if a broadcaster (like HBO or the BBC or Discovery or whoever, for example) wants to buy your film, they will tell you if they have an E&O requirement and what company they prefer you to get the insurance from – because the insurance is really to protect the broadcaster, not the filmmaker (but you should still make sure that the insurance policy also covers you.)

This is because broadcasters have a lot of money, and filmmakers generally have none. So any potential lawsuit resulting from your film will likely target the broadcaster, not you, the filmmaker.

However, in most cases such lawsuits are few and far between – this E&O business is mostly just a formality required by the legal departments of large media companies.

What you can do to prepare for this process is to get signed waivers from the principal participants in your film, if possible.

Edited Fri 16 Dec 2011 by James Longley

leonard schillaci
Fri 30 Dec 2011Link

Is there anyone in Atlanta/LA – Cartoon Network/ MTV experienced out there I can bounce a few ideas around with?
I have a cartoon series in development and need help!

Thanks

Len 704 491 2821
EnergyNC@hotmail.com or ClaimsNC@Gmail.com


Stephen Cooper
Sun 1 Jan 2012Link

Thanks, Doug and James, for your 12/16 and 12/17 responses to my question above about E&O insurance. You're both helpful and encouraging.


Doug Block
Sun 1 Jan 2012Link

Glad we could help, Stephen.


Maureen Ridley
Wed 4 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Ray Metoyer's post on Fri 13 May 2011 :

Can anyone tell me what are the typical rates for selling a documentary to a US TV channel or where I might find such information? I have a client here in the UK who has made a documentary which should be of interest to the US audience.


Doug Block
Wed 4 Jan 2012Link

The rates are all over the place, Maureen. Could be as little as next to nothing (small cable channel) or as high as a million or more (HBO, if they really really want it). Would help to know what kind of doc it is and the length.


Maureen Ridley
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Wed 4 Jan 2012 :

Thanks, Doug. Pretty much as I suspected. It's an hour-long documentary about Buffalo Bill's visit to Scotland.


Doug Block
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

Sounds like The History Channel is your likely target. Don't know their license fees (does anyone here have any experience with them?) but my guess is it's not high for an hour-long "one-off" acquisition. 10 to 20K, perhaps? Don't hold me to it, though.


Robert Goodman
Thu 5 Jan 2012Link

these days likely less than half that figure.


Maureen Ridley
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Thu 5 Jan 2012 :

Thanks again. I'' pursue the History Channel lead. Doesn't sound as if the chap is going to make much of a return on this.


Maureen Ridley
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Robert Goodman's post on Thu 5 Jan 2012 :

Good grief. His prospects of success are being radically pruned.


Doug Block
Fri 6 Jan 2012Link

Welcome to the glamorous world of documentaries, Maureen :-)


Ajay Brar
Tue 10 Jan 2012Link

Hi, I'm working on a documentary feature for which I'm finding it really difficult to raise any funding at all.
The documentary is on the Maoist rebel movement in India and looks at the rebels, the conflict and its human cost, and the underlying issues of mining and indigenous tribal rights.
I have filmed one round and will be going back to film more (me being the director, cinematographer, producer, editor and all).

Based in Australia, I have had no luck getting a broadcaster. The commercial ones don't care and the public broadcasters require Australian content / connection so a suggestion was for me to film myself which I think detracts from the story – its not about me but about the people there.

So I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions / ideas on how to go about raising funding for documentaries on issues that aren't exactly mainstream? How do I finance this (so far its been self financed but that won't cover a lot of the post work)? And what are the possibilities for distribution, theatrical release etc?

thanks


Oggi Tomic
Tue 10 Jan 2012Link

Hi Ajay,

Your film sounds like a good idea. I have been to India doing a short promo/doc for a charity on Yanadi tribe and luckily they supported financially filming of it all.

Anyway, in regards to your financing, have you tried http://www.indiegogo.com/

Hope it all goes OK for you and if I can do anything to help or advise you please let me know.

Oggi


Reid B. Kimball
Wed 11 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Ajay Brar's post on Tue 10 Jan 2012 :

I am not sure if Kickstarter.com is open to those outside the United States yet, but I raised $11,000+ for my documentary.


J. Christian Jensen
Thu 12 Jan 2012Link

SUBJECT: BEST STUDENT FILM, DOC SHORT, and DISABILITY FILM FESTS/COMPETITIONS

Hello Mentors,

I've just completed my first of several short film as part of Stanford University's MFA in Documentary Film program. The film is solid, about 5 min, and focuses on disability but in an unexpected way.

I had a bad (and expensive) experience applying to festivals with a short I directed as an undergrad. Can someone suggest (or direct me to some posts about) some of the better film festivals or competitions for student films and films about disability? I have a fear of blowing a lot of money applying to festivals out of my league or that don't really have much value as a networking event.


Ajay Brar
Sun 15 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Oggi Tomic's post on Tue 10 Jan 2012 :

Thanks Oggi. I've been trying to avoid crowdfunding but looks like that will be the way to go.


Ajay Brar
Sun 15 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Thu 12 Jan 2012 :

Kickstarter is only for US residents. There is a crowdfunding thing here in Oz too, I've just been avoiding it and trying for production houses and broadcasters.


Jacob Brady
Wed 18 Jan 2012Link

Hi all, I'm currently trying to raise funding for a documentary about a network of controversial adolescent drug abuse programs that I was a member of for five years. We just released a pitch trailer and launched an IndieGoGo campaign.

I would love to get some feedback from professionals on what we are doing right and what we could be doing better. This is my first time trying to do something like this and I could use all the help you can offer.

The trailer and IndieGoGo page are here. http://www.indiegogo.com/thegroup

Not asking for donations here, just looking for feedback. Thanks in advance.


Jill Morley
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Hi Jacob,

This looks like a really interesting story, especially since you have the inside scoop.

I am wondering if you have any other footage besides the talking heads and pictures. Are there scenes you can shoot? Or can you come up with some creative B-Roll that relates to the feelings that everyone is talking about? I know you are just beginning with telling your story, but I think it is always good to think in these terms. Best of luck!


Jacob Brady
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Hi Jill,

Thanks for checking it out.

Right now, we have about 13 hours worth of video footage that was shot by members of The Group and more coming. We didn't use any in the trailer because we are still working out the legalities of using it, but we intend to use some of it in the film.

As for B-roll, we plan to get footage of our interview subjects in their daily lives, plus just shooting anything interesting that comes up when we are on location.


Jill Woodward
Thu 19 Jan 2012Link

Subject looks compelling so far. I have heard of extreme drug programs (like the right wing christian ones that periodically get shut down by a state gov and then pop up elsewhere under a different name) but this is the first I heard about one totally run by kids. Lots of parallels though in terms of the brainwashing, peer pressure and torture lite techniques. Was there money involved? Anyone profiting?


Jacob Brady
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Jill Woodward's post on Fri 20 Jan 2012 :

Hi Jill. There is definitely a profit being made. My family, for example, which is a working-class family, spent around $70,000 in the five years that I was involved. The money is from treatment programs (in-patient and out-patient). They convince parents that without the treatment their child will literally die.

We were very limited in what we could go into with the teaser trailer, but we plan to explore the whole history of the organization in the final film.

The entire operation was founded by one man who is a convicted-felony, former heroin addict and self-professed murderer. There has been a lot written about the organization going back to the 1970s. Here's a link to a little background information, if you're curious.

Thanks for checking it out. If you have any advice, I sure could use it.


Jill Woodward
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

sounds very similar to Kids of Bergen County, where my friend was incarcerated, it changed names and moved around a lot to avoid regulation. From your trailer I almost thought it was the kids organizing themselves, but it sounds very much like there is an adult orchestrating and profiting. Good luck!


Jacob Brady
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Jill Woodward's post on Fri 20 Jan 2012 :

It's very similar to the Kids of Bergen County and the Straight program.


Reid B. Kimball
Fri 20 Jan 2012Link

Jacob, nice job on your first film so far, but I do see a couple areas to work on.

Sound quality is inconsistent, some sounded echo-y while others sounded high quality but too soft and quiet, I'm hard of hearing. I like to make sure the sound is loud but not too loud. People can always turn their sound down, but I had maxed the sound on my sys and headphone and still had a hard time hearing a lot of what was said.

Also, be more conscious of where your key lights are falling on the interview subject's face and which direction they are looking in. In one scene, in the bedroom, the key light was behind the person, not in front. So, we see most of their face being dark with the back side of the face lit. Other scenes the subject is to one side of the frame (rule of thirds) but is looking towards the short side, not the long side.

I've made all these mistakes myself. It's a challenge to keep all this conscious when you are trying to setup equipment and think about the interview questions, etc.


Jacob Brady
Sun 22 Jan 2012Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Sat 21 Jan 2012 :

Reid, thanks for the feedback. We had a lot of difficulties with light in one of the interviews. We were using natural light and had issues with the sun moving behind clouds and also getting dark early. We tried out best to fix it with some color correction, but there was only so much we could do.

Hopefully, if we are able to raise the money, we will be able to budget for lights and have much more control over the finished product.

As for the sound, I confess I don't know much about it, but I did notice that it jumps around from interview to interview.

Thanks for all the feedback. I really appreciate it.


Kevin Spahr
Thu 26 Jan 2012Link

I'm purchasing E&O for my first doc deal. I have no idea of what this should cost. I have a quote for a 10K deduct on a 1M/3M policy for 3 years for $5500. Is this in the range of what you guys have paid?

This doc is pretty safe – no digging up dirt, no famous people, not based on other works, etc, – it has a happy and positive message. I know that doesn't really mean much in today's world.

thanks


Doug Block
Thu 26 Jan 2012Link

It means right around $5500 for 3 years. A pretty accurate quote.


Mike Lynch
Sun 29 Jan 2012Link

I recently paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail and took video along the way. I conducted interviews, got action footage, scenic shots, etc. The one thing I didn't do was get location releases. My footage was filmed on public waterways, public streets and a few private campgrounds. Will this be a problem if I try to distribute the film or show it publicly. Which locations would require release? It's my understanding that the footage on public lakes, rivers and streams, I'd be allowed to use. What's the consequence of not having a location release and then showing the film?


Arv Acharya
Sat 4 Feb 2012Link

Hello, I just joined D-Word. I have a question. Does anyone know of footage of Nice, France in the mid- to late-1920s? Also, footage of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1920s? I am looking for these to incorporate into a planned documentary on the life of the Ottoman Royalty when they went into exile. I can be reached at arvindach[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks in advance. This looks like a very supportive community, judging from the answers to various questions asked by others.


Lillian Baulding
Sun 19 Feb 2012Link

Hello All: Can anyone recommend a good, inexpensive video stabilizer for my Canon t3i? I've been looking at the Dot Line DL-0370 Hands-free Video Stabilizer but don't know anyone who has one. Thanks!


Yacine Helali
Mon 20 Feb 2012Link

Lillian, you'll find this and a lot more in this article from Chris Jones, 'The Perfect Guerilla Film Makers Camera Kit For Under £1k':

http://www.chrisjonesblog.com/2012/02/the-perfect-guerilla-film-makers-camera-kit-for-under-1k.html

Hope this helps,

Yacine Helali
www.vetofilms.com


Lillian Baulding
Mon 20 Feb 2012Link

Thank you very much Yacine!

Best,
Lillian Baulding


Jesse Zook Mann
Tue 21 Feb 2012Link

In reply to Arv Acharya's post on Sun 5 Feb 2012 :

i was just watching the bbc doc the first world war. lots of stuff from the ottoman empire – might want to see their sources and see what else you can dig up.

http://www.amazon.com/First-World-War-Complete/dp/B0009S2K9C/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

the episode is jihad – its also on youtube


Damien Pollard
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

Hi Everyone,

I'm in a very similar situation to Mike above. I recently filmed a short doc about a small-time rock band in the UK, the first half of which was filmed in a rehearsal studio that they frequently use. I phoned the managers of the studio prior to filming and they said that they were happy for me to film there and take shots of their building.

However, during the first day of shooting there, they refused to sign a location release. They said that they were still very happy for me to film there and that I could film what I wanted and do what I liked with the final film. They didn't want to sign anything however, as they felt this would, potentially, leave them exposed to me later using the footage in a way that was damaging to them. I've spoken to them a couple of times since filming, as have the band, but they're sticking to this line. Apparently bands film at their studio quite frequently and this is the stance they take in all cases. I'm a stickler for crossing t's and dotting i's legally, so am not comfortable accepting verbal consent alone.

I'm planning on putting the film up on Youtube and Vimeo. I have no current plans to send it to festivals or secure broadcast distribution. Is this lack of a written location release something I should be worried about? My specific questions are:

Could the studio hypothetically take legal action simply because I have filmed on their premises, or would they need to show that I have damaged their reputation in doing so etc?

Would it be possible for me to put the video online and ask them to sign a release form just for that edit of that film (ie so that I'm covered, but they are also reassured that I can't then go and re-edit the rushes into something damaging to them).

I am in the UK and the doc was filmed here. I have signed releases for the other locations, all identifiable contributors and all the band's music.

Any thoughts would be hugely appreciated – this issue's held the film up for too long! Thanks a lot!

Damien


Jill Woodward
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

Personally I'd put it on the web and forget about it. Secondly, I think it's only broadcasters that require such extensive paperwork, not even festivals, generally. However, hypothetically any studio or any person could take legal action at any time for any reason whatsoever.


Doug Block
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

If it were me, I wouldn't worry about it a bit, Damien. But if it's keeping you up at night, you might want to get something informal with them via an email, even if it's just to explain their rationale as to why they don't want to sign a formal release. At least it's something where they state it's ok for you to film. But it's very unlikely they'll now turn around and sue.

Edited Tue 28 Feb 2012 by Doug Block

Damien Pollard
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

Thanks a lot Jill and Doug, I really appreciate your thoughts.

I doubt this makes a difference, but I forgot to mention that I did not include the studio's name anywhere (eg interviews, on-screen text or shots of signage). It would be recognisable only to those who are already familiar with it.

That's very useful info (and good to know) about festivals Jill, thank you.

Thanks a lot for that suggestion Doug. I'm planning to email each contributor/location individually as soon as the film is uploaded with a link and message of thanks for their help. With the studio I thought I'd add a note saying that I appreciate their desire to look after their reputation and invite them to watch the film and let me know immediately if they have any objections. If they do not have any then at least I can move forward with evidence that I've taken reasonable steps to consider and account for their interests even without a signed release.

Thanks again both!


Doug Block
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

With the studio, I wouldn't rush to send them a link. But if you do, I'd absolutely never invite them to raise any objections.


Jill Morley
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

Damien, you also may want to consider an on camera release where they just tell you on camera that it is cool for you to shoot there. Not sure how that will hold up, but it's something and might make you feel better. Also, if you are worried about legal action, which seems unlikely, you could just take the video down if that happens or put it on a private site with a password. Best of luck!


Damien Pollard
Tue 28 Feb 2012Link

Thanks Doug, I certainly take your point. The studio were friendly and helpful throughout filming, and polite in their refusal to sign, but no need to open the door to problems! Maybe just a general email if any then.

Thanks as well Jill M. Filming is complete (and they're miles away from London!) so I think the window for an on-camera release is unfortunately closed. Thanks for the suggestion – I was actually curious as to whether taking the film down if trouble ever arose would be enough to solve the problem?

Thanks very much again everyone, I appreciate this is a lot of attention to be paying to what is essentially a long Youtube vid, but I can see this being a recurring issue in the future and for others!


Matt Dubuque
Thu 1 Mar 2012Link

Good evening,

I would like to submit my first very short film that I finally completed to my satisfaction yesterday for the comments and hopefully withering criticism of various mentors here.

I have generally found that the harsher the criticism, the more I can learn from it and because I am able to take such criticism with a minimum of disappointment, I have been able to substantially improve this film from the miserable state it was in last year.

This short is entitled "Twitter Time" and it explores possible responses to the exponential acceleration of our experience as discussed in Raymond Kurzweil's book "The Singularity is Near".

Here is a link to the film, best viewed in HD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H2xjhOnZIc&feature=plcp&context=C368cc22UDOEgsToPDskLyB6JLNpVhnISV2eeWuqZv

What follows in the next post is my discussion I intend to include in the "Director's Cut" DVD of the film for submittal to film festivals.

I look forward to your comments and criticism and, again, your discussion of the worst aspects of this project are most welcome.


Matt Dubuque
Thu 1 Mar 2012Link

Below is the discussion I intend to provide for the "Director's Cut" portion of my short film Twitter Time, as discussed in my immediately previous post:

Way back in the 20th century, a sound bite was used to refer to an abbreviated form of communication that became a widespread shorthand used to communicate more quickly and efficiently in an accelerating world.

Since that ancient day, nobody really has time for lengthy sound bites anymore, instead preferring to communicate in short, 256 character Twitter feeds.

As we connect the dots from the now archaic sound bite to the much shorter Twitter feeds of today, what may we look forward to in the future when nobody has time for Twitter feeds anymore?

I describe this trend as the exponential acceleration of human experience and it closely mirrors Raymond Kurzweil's discussions of the "coming singularity" when future information flows collapse into a black hole of ever accelerating processing machines that he claims is our destiny.

How can we respond to these cultural trends? Is it our lot to simply embrace, welcome and accelerate them, or are there alternatives that may provide more comfort, humanity and, ultimately, sustainability to our lives?

Mahatma Gandhi once said that there is more to life than simply accelerating its speed.

That's what this film is about.

The theme of this film is that the medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan told us before Facebook went public.

The first part of the film deals with the inherent limitations of text-based communication systems such as email, Twitter and Facebook. Communicating in such media is inherently myopic and limited, as nuances of relationship, irony and subtlety are inevitably lost in the mad rush to discuss our world through the narrow prism of no more than 256 characters for a Twitter feed.

We are bombarded with so many fragments of messages and heavily commercialized memes that this tends to shorten our attention spans and harms our capacity to remember. It has been said that the United States is the complete opposite of the Balkans because nobody remembers anything. I'm persuaded that aphorism has the ring of truth due, at least in part, to the acceleration of our existence intensified by expending ever-increasing amounts of our time immersed in a strictly alphanumeric-intensive domain. It's a zero sum game.

The various data streams in the first portion of the film are exemplars of the phenomenon of information overload that we all face in this medium.

How can we respond to this spiraling, meaningless complexity that saturates this domain?

It is the function of the second part of the film to discuss this.

The second part of the film explores other media distinct from alphanumeric, textual formats, in increasing order of richness and resonance.

The medium of still photographs is presented in the second part of the film as an initial contrast to alphanumeric text-based communication software systems discussed previously.

The photographs are generally "letterboxed" in this film, which means they are surrounded by black horizontal and vertical borders to denote that the subject of the film not only contains references to the actual contents of the photographs, but also to the medium of photography generally, which is richer in its content than a life devoted to alphanumeric text processing only. One photograph is worth a thousand words and can convey nuances of emotion, humour and relationship typically lacking in Twitter feeds from cultural icons such as Justin Bieber.

Another medium covered in the film is that of film itself. I introduced the film with numeric countdown leaders and make liberal use of pure black visual spaces to indicate that I ask the viewer to not only immerse themselves in the various moving images presented in the film but also to explore the relative merits of the medium of film and video itself. The medium is once again the message here and the communicative domain of film can show subtle emotive and perspectival shifts over time not easily obtained from solitary photographs alone.

Finally, although constrained by the diegetic space of the film, I ask the viewer to contemplate what I call direct experience, be it the love of a woman, a walk in the woods, an exercise in tree planting, gentle conversation or whatever.

I find these final examples of more direct knowing to be a wonderful antidote to the exponential acceleration of human experience most clearly amplified by a life saturated with the endless task of processing alphanumeric text messages that are often, ultimately, trivial. A response to a life lived in "Twitter Time" if you will.

I posit that tree planting is just one of a myriad of options we have to stretch out, enjoy, celebrate and learn from our beautiful lives. Planting over 100 trees has clearly made me a better person and this will be covered in my next film "100 Trees", which describes the current benefits we enjoy around the world from various tree planting programmes instituted from the 12th century England, 16th century Tokugawa, Japan, to the 19th century projects of Johnny Appleseed and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on to more recent tree planting exercises that I have been fortunate enough to participate in.

That film is described here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dPUp1m1pLA

Thanks for viewing the film and I look forward to any thoughts you may have.

I can be reached through the incredible, untapped potential of email at onehundredtrees@gmail.com.

Edited Thu 1 Mar 2012 by Matt Dubuque

Andrea Swift
Wed 7 Mar 2012Link

Looking for a Native American Documentary-maker

Hi all,

A NYFA thesis student from Bulgaria will soon begin shooting a doc about an Omaha Sioux family who are trying to maintain and nourish their traditional ways against rather daunting societal, economic, and now medical odds. She and I would both like to get her connected to a Native American documentarian for mentoring as she goes. It could be as significant or minimal as anyone is willing to do. She has great craft mentors through the school. And she will have the guidance and advice of several Omaha people. Still, while some of her faculty have made docs with and about Native Americans, none of the Omaha advisers knows anything about filmmaking and none of us has the prospective that an actual Native American might lend her. She'd love to find someone Omaha but will thrilled with anyone who could combine some knowledge of film making with a Native American personal perspective.

Anyone?

Please email me at aswift@nyfa.edu if you, or someone you know, might be willing to help.

Thanks!
Andrea

Edited Wed 7 Mar 2012 by Andrea Swift

asdfadgasd dafggfda
Mon 26 Mar 2012Link

Hi All,

I have a few questions to ask. I'm working as a producer on my first Doc Feature "Two Blind to Ride" and I need to create a budget for grant writing.

We're thinking the length of the doc would be 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

1) Is 60 minutes better or 90 minutes? We're hoping for Cable, VOD or a content provider like Hulu as distribution.

2) What camera system would be good for this. Our DP wants a Red. We have DSLRs, but we don't think that's a good system for a project like this.

What would you recommend? I'm thinking of a Canon C300 since the output format is Mpeg-2. Would this be a good format for deliverables? What format/codec requirements is most common? Quicktime ProRes?
HDV? This would help us in choosing a camera.

3) What would be a good ballpark figure in budgeting for Post Production?

Thanks


Doug Block
Mon 26 Mar 2012Link

Can only address your first question, Ferdinand (which, of course, impacts the 3rd). If you're not looking for theatrical, you're far better off with 60 minutes in terms of being able to sell it to cable (and for international broadcast, as well). It will also cost you considerably less to make.


Riley Morton
Mon 26 Mar 2012Link

In reply to Ferdinand Casido's post on Mon 26 Mar 2012 :

re: your second question – i'd really hesitate to use RED for ANY doc project, and especially one where you'll be in remote/difficult locations for any length of time. you certainly don't need 4k for cable/hulu, and the cost of all the extra cards, hard drives, and costs in post production just aren't worth it, imo.
c300 makes a lot of sense for a project like this, as the image can be just as beautiful as the RED (but at a much more reasonable 50 mbps) making it possible to shoot on cheap CF cards, and less hard drive/power concerns while in the field)

but there is also something to be said about having a solid 1 piece camera that is compact, and doesn't need to change lenses. something like a Panasonic hvx 200, or hmc150, or ... will stand up to abuse in remote spots, and won't break if there is excessive dust, snow, etc... C300 is great, but it remains to be seen how well it will stand up to abuse in the field.

don't worry about delivery format until you are getting into post production. just acquire the best images you can now with the budget you have.
good luck!


Angela Alford
Tue 27 Mar 2012Link

I'm in the middle of my first crowdfunding campaign on my first film entitled "Granny's Got Game". It is a sports doc with a twist – the athletes are seventy year old women who have been playing basketball together for almost 20 years. It is an inspiring story.

I've learned a lot in the archived "Crowdfunding" topic here on D-word. I did a month of prep before launch and reached my first goal in just 10 days. That was awesome. But contributions have dropped off dramatically the last couple of weeks despite have a surge of publicity and views on the campaign page. I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong. I'd really appreciate any feedback and suggestions people are willing to give. You can view the campaign here:
http://www.indiegogo.com/GrannysGotGame


Doug Block
Tue 27 Mar 2012Link

Angela, as a Professional member you don't want to be posting in the Mentoring Room, which is dedicated to Enthusiasts without access to all the other topics. Besides, Professional members rarely check out this topic – some do but most don't. We never encourage people to double post, but in this case you should re-post this in the Fundraising topic.


Angela Alford
Tue 27 Mar 2012Link

Thanks, Doug!


asdfadgasd dafggfda
Tue 27 Mar 2012Link

Thanks Doug and Riley,

I think we're moving away from the RED. Anyone with experience on the Sony FS100? That's a camera system we're looking at. Seems to have everything we need. Any pros cons and using that camera?


Robert Goodman
Thu 29 Mar 2012Link

Too many buttons. Otherwise a nice camera.


Riley Morton
Thu 29 Mar 2012Link

i haven't used it – my big concern would be ergonomics. i'd make sure i tried it before committing.


Laura Moire Paglin
Sun 8 Apr 2012Link

Yes – you certainly can't hand hold it without some sort of stabilization (which I'm still working on). I think you can get used to the buttons – although in cold weather, I'd probably find it impossible to use. Just like with the DSLRs you'll need to transcode the footage, which is a pain. You'll need ND filters since there isn't one built in. I'd also probably (and am planning to buy) the Atimos recorder – so you can record in Prores and or have a back up to those flimsy cards.


Kevin Hallagan
Wed 2 May 2012Link

Compared to the cameras you guys have been talking about, I feel foolish asking about the ones I'm looking at.... but I'm going to do it anyway.
I am going to start my first Feature Doc this fall if not sooner, but I honestly only have about $5000 in my bank account and have no car, need to pay for food, rent, etc. so I'm looking at most in the range of the Canon 5D Mark II or the Pentax k-5... Snapsort helped me narrow it down to those two, but something about it makes me feel uncomfortable. I know it's my first doc but I feel like these cameras are just unprofessional. I don't want to be seen as a student making a movie, but I also don't have a car so getting my gear from place t place needs to be a compact operation and I can't afford anything nicer... any suggestions?

thanks
-Kevin

Ps. here's the Snapsort comparison: http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_EOS_5D_Mark_II-vs-Pentax_K-5


Kevin Wells
Wed 2 May 2012Link

In reply to Kevin Hallagan's post on Wed 2 May 2012 :
If price is a constraint and you want to use a dslr, I would suggest one of the cheaper dslr's. I love my 5D Mark II, but something like a 60D or t3i would work just fine (and have an adjustable lcd screen). Also, the Panasonic GH2 can produce a wonderful image – you have to take the crop factor into account, but it's a nice doc camera as well. For all of these you'll need an external audio recorder – Zoom H4n is great.

I would recommend a shift in thinking over whether a camera is professional or unprofessional. They are tools – if you can get something cheaper that helps you do what you need to, get it. People take cues from how you conduct yourself. And often times, using a dslr helps on a doc shoot because you are hassled less from police, guards, etc because it's unassuming...


Peter Brauer
Wed 2 May 2012Link

What Kevin says is right on. I shoot a 7D and love it most of the time. But the 60D and t3i is nearly as good as the 7d. Spend your money on audio. Get a good mic. Good sound is probably more important to seeming professional. Ultimately its not the camera that will make things look and sound good. Its you. Good luck.


Kevin Hallagan
Wed 2 May 2012Link

thank you, Kevin and Peter. time for me to redirect my camera research.


alyce ornella
Thu 3 May 2012Link

I shoot with the 60D and vintage Soviet lenses w/adapter (which are not the most versatile, and not image stabilized, but all I could afford). The camera is great. Like you, I have no funding at the time and largely shoot/edit/produce alone. You will have to put the most thought into stabilization and audio recording.

For sound, I wear a small 4-channel field mixer around my waist where I can run a shotgun mic (mounted to the camera hotshoe) and wireless lav, then output via stereo cable to the camera input. It'd be better if I had a separate sound person but I usually don't, and after a lot of trial and error this seems to be working best for me.

As soon as I have a spare $600 or so I will get an image stabilized lens, but I have no idea when that will actually happen. Get one of those if you can. I rely on a combination of tripod, monopod w/feet, gorillapod, and rail system shoulder mount (which causes so much pain after using for a couple of hours that I rarely use it).

Also I found with the 60D it's much better to work with one of those magnification mounts you clip on to the LCD screen, this helps you see much easier if you are in focus. I guess you could also use one of those small LCD field monitors if you have somewhere to mount it.

Get a 60D instead of 5D and invest the savings into the other things you'll need.

Edited Thu 3 May 2012 by alyce ornella

Jesse Zook Mann
Fri 4 May 2012Link

Get some credit cards. Buy the camera you want used. Make your movie. Sell camera. Pay off card. Thats what I've done for 10 years. Will be worth having a camera with XLR inputs – I synced 100 hours of 7d footage. It sucked. Bad.


Kevin Hallagan
Mon 7 May 2012Link

so what are everyone's thoughts on a Pentax K-5 with a BeachTek adapter for XLR inputs?


alyce ornella
Mon 7 May 2012Link

I had a Beachtek for a while. I never found the monitoring level to be very good, nor the level indicators to really work. The right channel blew out not too long after I got it. I get much better results using a 4 channel field mixer in a shoulder bag.

Edited Mon 7 May 2012 by alyce ornella

Joey Savoie
Sun 13 May 2012Link

Hey guys,

On the topic of price constraint equipment I was wondering if you guys would have a mic suggestion. I am currently using a 60D and need to buy a mic to accompany it. I do not want to have to sync audio :( and do not have a huge budget (but a semi flexible one). I will be doing almost entirely interviews both indoor and street interviews.

A friend suggested the MKE400 but I thought you guys might have some thoughts as well.


Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to Matt Dubuque's post on Fri 2 Mar 2012 :

Hey Matt,

Your mindset is on the right track. There is nothing harder than patiently soaking criticism from your peers. Tears flow inside my helpless smiles when somebody bashes my works. However, what you're doing is the best way to deal with the harshness. All the confidence you need comes from you and your loved ones.

I'll watch the short film later on and give my comments soon. Keep that philosophy in check bro!


Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Sun 18 Sep 2011 :

Aside from the informative "THE CUTTING EDGE" documentary, there is also a film made my Gabriele Voss titled "Cuts in Space and Time". It's in German with English Subtitles.

The DVD is the link

It's great for both narrative and documentary editing! The director Gabriele Voss (along with her husband, Christoph Hubner) have been doing amazing cinema verite works. And they are also exceptional mentors!


Margot Roth
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to Raymund Gerard C. Cruz's post on Mon 21 May 2012 :

Raymund, I confess I don't always read this topic but was v. glad I did today when I saw your glorious turn of phrase, "tears flow inside my helpless smiles." It inspired me to write a poem.

Apology Not Accepted
by Mrs. Wm. Carlos Wms.

When I opened
the icebox
to see
my plums
were gone

tears flowed
inside
my helpless
smile

Just thought
you should
know.

Show hidden content

Laura Moire Paglin
Mon 21 May 2012Link

Your words
So sweet and so cold.


Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to Margot Roth's post on Mon 21 May 2012 :

Margot!

I didn't know my anxiety could produce such deep poetry. haha! Thanks for sharing. That energized up my day.


Doug Block
Mon 21 May 2012Link

What Margot said, Raymund.


Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Tue 22 May 2012 :

She turned a simple phrase from my reply to Matt, and turned it into a poignant poem. Brilliant!


Margot Roth
Mon 21 May 2012Link

lol. Doug was refering to the hidden section of my post, Raymund. We're happy to have you. :) (Altho your selfless read of his comment further seals your reputation as the kindest, most sympathetic D-Worder of the incoming class of 2012. Congratulations!)

Show hidden content
Edited Mon 21 May 2012 by Margot Roth

Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Mon 21 May 2012Link

In reply to Margot Roth's post on Tue 22 May 2012 :

Haha! thank you for selecting me in the All-Rookie team. :) I will avoid these hyperlink turnovers soon.

Great poem by the way.


Kat Jarvis
Fri 25 May 2012Link

Hi, I'm a documentary filmmaker working on a business plan for the first time. I'm trying to find some good sources for finding out the marketing research data on the documentary film industry (and ideally broken down further to the LGBTQ documentary film industry). I'm trying to answer questions such as size of the market, demands in the market, trends in the target market etc. Does anyone know of any good resources?


Robert T Speziale
Tue 12 Jun 2012Link

In reply to Matt Dubuque's post on Fri 2 Mar 2012 :

Matt,

I'm confused. I watched your short, "Twitter Time" on Youtube (about 7 min 45 sec). It has excellent production values: camera technique, sound, color, sountrack, editing, mixing, credits, etc. I saw close to three minutes of text crawls around and across a black screen, with an engaging drum sound track. This was followed by a series of colorful and well shot stills mixed with video of people planting small evergreen trees in a forest, and a large oriental (Buddha?) mask, without any dialogue and with the same engaging drum track. This was followedby about a minute of very nice credits rolling. I didn't see anything remotely connected to singularity or Ray Kurzweil or Twitter.

Bob


Rebecca Rolnick
Tue 10 Jul 2012Link

Hi Friends,

I am new to D-Word and not sure the mentoring forum is the right place to send my query into the d-byss, but it seems like a good place to start ...

I am producing a documentary about a young Iraqi girl who has been in the US for 5 years (thebeautythatremains.com). I am eager to get footage of her village (in Diyala Province) as well as interview some of her family members, etc. I will not be able to travel to Iraq but am looking for a trustworhty, streamlined team (perhaps Iraqi filmmakers or reporters who speak English, or independent journalists, writers, etc who are still over there?)

I have traveled down many paths already – connections through American news stations, reporters, etc. – but have so far come up empty-handed. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice, or know anyone I could reach out to directly?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks!
Becky


Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Wed 11 Jul 2012Link

In reply to Kevin Hallagan's post on Wed 2 May 2012 :

I agree. The 60D is actually pretty good. Most filmmakers here in Asia use it for independent film that have widescreen releases. What you should invest on are the lenses.

Edited Wed 11 Jul 2012 by Raymund Gerard C. Cruz

Laura Hoover
Sat 28 Jul 2012Link

Hello, all! I am a newbie documentarian..My film, The Strength of Strings: Appalachian Music at Rocky Branch, needs funding. I just made a Kickstarter pitch video..but I will need more than that> I am thinking of having a Bluegrass concert, the proceeds of which will go towards continued shooting. Anyone out there good with Fuindraising suggestions>? I'd love to get a pro onboard..like Steve Martin..Jackson Browne.. or other local musicians! Am I just dreaming..again? Thanks for input,, much-appreciated!


Daniel McGuire
Sat 28 Jul 2012Link

In reply to alyce ornella's post on Thu 3 May 2012 :

I'm very curious to hear more about "vintage soviet lenses" and see what the results look like.
cheers,
dmcg


Jill Morley
Sun 29 Jul 2012Link

Hi Laura, getting a "name" onboard is always a good idea. Definitely pursue them after composing a compelling letter. Best of luck!


Larry Vaughn
Mon 30 Jul 2012Link

In reply to Errol Webber's post on Tue 8 Feb 2011 : The Canon XHA1, and the XHA1s are cheap now used on ebay, just get one that doesn't have a problem with the firewire port so you can ingest the video into your editor, or get an HV 10/20/30 or 40 to use as a tape deck and maybe a stationary camera. I've also seen the flash memory card replacements to the XH series going for 1/2 of the new price on ebay.

I haven't heard about the color issues, no one has complained about the 70+ interview type business owner commercials I've made with mine. I try to white balance on a grey card which is closer to skin reflectivity that a white card or other white object like a shirt.


Darren Coyle
Sat 4 Aug 2012Link

My podcast is called "The Real Stuff" and it's a series of interviews with the makers of unscripted tv and film. And it's FREE!

A new episode is posting today – I hope you will check it out and tell all your friends to do so too!

This episode, my guest is Tyler Mathers. Tyler is an Associate Producer living and working in Washington, D.C.

Please check it out at my site:
http://darrencoyle.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=79&Itemid=465&lang=en

OR subscribe to it on iTunes. You have to search a little for my page, but it's there!


ilona zonnenfeld
Sun 5 Aug 2012Link

Hi all,

Im a producer/editor and working on directing/editing my first feature doc. I edit my own film as well as client projects using FCP 7 on my old mac book pro and i need to replace computer. Question is whether to get a new Mac Book Pro or an imac. The Retina doesnt seem to be a good option for me bc it doesnt have firewire ports and all my footage is on LaCie drives w/Firewire ports (no thunderbolt port). Retina also lacking a dvd drive – so not gonna work for me. I love the portability of my macbookpro which is why im tempted to get a new one – w faster processor, more RAM, etc.... But the imac is tempting bc processor is SO much faster, more RAM, higher graphics card, than the MacBookPro. specs on macbookpro are as follows:

2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
8GB 1600MHz memory
750GB 5400-rpm hard drive1
Intel HD Graphics 4000
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory

Whereas specs on imac are:

3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
2560 x 1440 resolution
4GB (two 2GB) memory
1TB hard drive1
AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 1GB

BC Im not a full time editor – i do a lot of producing – can I go w MacBookPro or would it be a mistake? Also, is FCP7 going to be extinct soon? I need to finish cutting my film on FCP7. How will this effect me? For new projects, should I be cutting on FCP10 instead? Are bugs worked out?

Thanks!


Chuck Fadely
Sun 5 Aug 2012Link

In reply to ilona zonnenfeld's post on Sun 5 Aug 2012 :

Ilona, you might look at the Apple refurb 17" MacBook Pros. The express card slot, which was only on the 17", lets you add additional firewire or ESATA connectors. I don't understand why they discontinued the 17" – it's a great editing platform. I think the October 2011 model was the last one before being discontinued.

In general, an i7 processor is faster than an i5 processor so don't go by the Ghz rating of the processor – you have to find independent speed tests. And even then take them with a grain of salt. Disk access speed is as important for video than raw processor speed (as long as it's a reasonably fast computer.)

I don't think you can buy Final Cut 7 any more, but it still works fine if you've already got it. FCPX can be useful for short web work but is not what you want for a feature film. I don't think you can get by anymore with just one editing program....


ilona zonnenfeld
Mon 6 Aug 2012Link

In reply to Chuck Fadely's post on Sun 5 Aug 2012 :

Thank you Chuck! Very helpful feedback!

When you say, " I don't think you can get by anymore with just one editing program...." what programs are most editors working on these days? And would you say most editors are working on a desktop or laptop?

Thanks!


Miranda Yousef
Mon 6 Aug 2012Link

In reply to ilona zonnenfeld's post on Mon 6 Aug 2012 :

Hi Ilona,

In terms of the programs editors are working on--I'd say that in my experience, up until the introduction of FCPX, the vast majority were on FCP7. But now that Apple has stopped supporting FCP7, we are in a weird in-between stage where there are still a lot of projects cutting on FCP7, but there is a sense that as the OS continues to get updated, at some point you just won't be able to run FCP7 anymore. So I think a lot of people are transitioning to Avid or Adobe Premiere (in my experience, mostly Avid).

Also, I am not sure that 5400rpm will be fast enough--I've always done 7200.

Right now I am cutting an HD project (FCP7) on a 2010 15" MacBook Pro, and it is working fine (although I should note it is a short, and I'm able to do it using one FW800 drive). If I were you, since you have to finish on FCP7, I might look into getting (or borrowing) a used system, possibly a desktop. My top concerns would be connectivity and drive speed. Because desktops have more connectivity options, and they are just more powerful than laptops, I'd say that usually a desktop model is preferable for cutting features.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.


Tom Dziedzic
Mon 6 Aug 2012Link

In reply to ilona zonnenfeld's post on Mon 6 Aug 2012 :
I'm currently on a 27 inch iMac running Avid Media Composer 6. I'm a big AVID booster as it has been and remains a robust and reliable editing platform for over 20 years. You can download a trial version of Avid off their web site. Having the i7 top iMac 2011 model makes editing easy with all the different versions of HD out thee today.


Olivier Uwayezu
Mon 13 Aug 2012Link

Hello to everyone,
I see Apple stopped to support final cut studio, Most professional editors use Final cut studio since many years ago, why don't we bring our voice up to tell apple our wishes (and now we are suffering into other software) ? I suggest the host of D-word can help us to gather our wishes and voice. May be Apple thought we don't need it any more.

Waiting to hear from you


John Burgan
Mon 13 Aug 2012Link

Much as we'd like to think that The D-Word has that kind of power, Olivier, it seems that Apple has made its decision about the direction it intends to take come what may.

Check out industry veteran Walter Much's reaction and also Walter Biscardi's thoughts on the subject


Marcus Torrez
Mon 20 Aug 2012Link

In reply to Rebecca Rolnick's post on Tue 10 Jul 2012 :
Have you considered reaching out to Kuwait film makers? There's a lot there and they have visa permission to go into Iraq.

Other than that, one might contact and Iraqi Student whose home for Ramadan?


Marcus Torrez
Thu 23 Aug 2012Link

I'm sure this question's been answered several times: What's the best way to secure permission to film a documentary? On screen Ok's. Since mine includes a lot Veteran Support groups, I'm running into an issue.

I'm documenting my experience getting help/lack of help. But the moment I call mention I'm making a documentary, they roll out the red carpet. The Military has always been like that. If it's going to go public, you're the star Soldier.

Can I just shoot first ask later? No pun intended.


Andy Schocken
Fri 24 Aug 2012Link

You don't need permission to film a documentary, unless you're on someone else's private property. You'll need permission from the people on screen if you want to distribute it. To get distribution and the E&O insurance that's required for it, you'll need to have written release forms from your subjects. Google "appearance release" or "talent release" and I'm sure you'll find some boilerplate versions. On-camera releases may be better than nothing, and they're probably fine if you don't have big distribution plans, but I doubt they'll be sufficient to get E&O for a broad distribution.


Mark Barroso
Fri 24 Aug 2012Link

Andy's right if you intend to ask a festival , theater, or broadcaster to show your film. However if the extent of your ambition is to show it on the web or private screenings, written releases are not required. In the US, you have the First Amendment right to shoot anyone you want in public. It's the insurance companies that demand releases (which can also be gotten after the fact). If you are in the beginning of your filmmaking don't get too hung up on getting written permissions for every little thing or person.

Others may disagree, but I advocate for exercising our rights to the fullest extent, particularly if the film isn't going to be on a big screen or broadcast.


Marcus Torrez
Fri 24 Aug 2012Link

In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Fri 24 Aug 2012 :

In reply to Andy Schocken's post on Fri 24 Aug 2012 :
Thank you... Yes, I'll publish/distro to the public. You definitely answered the question. Thank you!


Summers Henderson
Fri 24 Aug 2012Link

Marcus, be careful about recording phone conversations. Depending on the state you're in (including California) it can be against the law to record someone else without their knowledge. I don't know about Arizona. However, while it may be illegal in such situations to record someone else, that doesn't necessarily mean it's un-ethical. If you're phoning a health care provider, and you need to document the poor level of care they're providing to you BEFORE you tell them you're making a documentary, then I can see an ethical argument for doing so. You have to weigh that against the likelihood of criminal prosecution, which I would guess is small, but I'm not a lawyer.

In almost every other situation where you're filming someone (short of some crazy hidden camera scenario) they're going to know that they're being filmed, and will behave accordingly. They may or may not be willing to sign an appearance release, but that doesn't impact your right to film. Of course, if you're trespassing on private property, they can try to bust you for that, but the camera doesn't change that one way or the other. And of course, US military property is public, not private.

I agree with Mark that if your primary goal is to get the film made, then you should try to get a release, but don't be stopped if you can't get one. For professional documentary filmmakers, who are motivated by trying to earn money to pay the lease on their Volvo station wagon, it doesn't make sense to film someone without a release. Because they need that release to get E&O insurance, which they need to sell their film to PBS or HBO. But if you're motivated by a passion to document your own experience, then you can still make a film that people will see someday, even if not on HBO.

Good luck!


Todd Johnson
Sun 14 Oct 2012Link

Hi---I am working on a short documentary that has 4-5 talking head interviews. After putting up graphics to identify who is being interviewed for the first time---how often (if ever) would you "re-identify" who is speaking? Is the viewer supposed to remember the name if they haven't seen them on camera for a while? Should you identify them say the first two times they are on camera and then none after that?

What is the rule of thumb so to speak on putting up titles on interview subjects? I keep going around and circles between identifying my interview subjects too much and not enough. Thanks so much in advance for any feedback or advice you can give me. I appreciate anyone taking the time to respond with advice!


Tom Dziedzic
Sun 14 Oct 2012Link

In reply to Todd Johnson's post on Sun 14 Oct 2012 :

Todd, if I ID with a lower third I do it on the speakers first or second on-screen appearance. Sometimes a film may have a montage of opening comments and then the IDs come in after the opening as the narrative opens up.

The old rule of thumb was the ID should be on long enough to read twice but that has gone out the window with lots of other thumb rules. I prefer 4 seconds at least. I've seen many only 2 seconds.

If the piece is long enough, say over 25 or 30 minutes, you can ID again if necessary especially if the person hasn't been on lot in the first section. Sometimes you can get away from on screen IDs by having people introduce themselves or have a narrator introduce them (if there is a narrator).

Ideally the film should give you a sense of who they are because most viewers won't really remember the name but need to know what they do or how they fit into the narrative. Hope that helps.


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