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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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Nick Brown
Wed 14 Jul 2010Link

In reply to Peter Brauer's post on Wed 14 Jul 2010 :

Thanks, Peter, that Stanford program does look extremely helpful. Both sites look to be good resources. Much appreciated.


Christopher Wong
Thu 15 Jul 2010Link

USC also has a great resource. less well known than Stanford, but equally free...

contact:
Jack Lerner
Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
University of Southern California Gould School of Law
699 Exposition Blvd. Room 425
Los Angeles, CA 90089
213/740-9013
213/740-5502 fax
jlerner@law.usc.edu
http://law.usc.edu/iptlc


Daniel McGuire
Tue 20 Jul 2010Link

Funny, there's no "Making Money" section to this Forum. What does that say about the documentary world?

Here's my question. Back in 1997 I had a VX-1000 and I worked on a never completed documentary on Balinese Healers. One of the healers I interviewed was Ketut Liyer, who is a major figure in the best-selling book "Eat Pray Love" (Movie with Julia Roberts to be release in August 2010.)
I have an hour long interview with Liyer as well as a lot of b-roll that has never aired. I wonder if folks here have any ideas on how to monetize the material given the huge interest in EPL. I could list it with a stock agency, I know. But I assume I could find an editor to cut it together and sell a finished piece. Any suggestions? To give you a sense of the quality, here is a bit of footage of a different healer I shot at the same time:<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0ppvIGs5H0>


Jill Woodward
Wed 21 Jul 2010Link

Perhaps a way to monetize it would be to get the material out there with your name on it. This might result in higher visibility for yourself and increased work, for which you receive money. Do you edit at all? Do you own the copyright to the material?


Daniel McGuire
Wed 21 Jul 2010Link

I shot it, I own all the tapes, have all the releases.


Christopher Wong
Thu 22 Jul 2010Link

have you thought of offering your interview with Liyer for the eventual DVD release of EPL? probably would make a good DVD extra for them.


Daniel McGuire
Thu 22 Jul 2010Link

This is what I am talking about – a Time magazine story on the healer Ketut Liyer... http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2005158,00.html


selina marques
Wed 4 Aug 2010Link

Hi,

I am fairly new to filmmaking, though I have shot a couple of student documentaries. I am looking for enough equipment to make a complete and reasonably good quality film. Most likely documentary. I currently have H2 Zoom (which I am not very familar with). I also have an old Sony camera, Hi8 and a first generation macbook. I am looking to spend under $1000 if possible. I have been thinking that the best solution is to invest the money in a new camera. I have a number of questions:

1. Is mini-dv a good investment? Currently, in Canada stores are not carrying mini-dv formats for cameras under $1000. However, I am inclined towards mini-dv because of their cheap storage format. Should I purchase a second hand mini-dv camera, what make and model would be best?

1.b. What sound equipment would I need to purchase?

2. Is the Canon T2ii a good alternative investment. What would I need for good sound? Could I use my existing H2 zoom? Would this be sufficient?

3. Are there any options for under $500?

4. What is a reasonable budget?

Thank you in advance,

selina


Daniel McGuire
Wed 4 Aug 2010Link

In reply to Christopher Wong's post on Thu 22 Jul 2010 :

Sorry to take so long to respond, Chris. Yeah, It would be perfect for a dvd extra, I spend several hours trying to reach a human at Sony's DVD authoring division but was unsuccessful. If I could find out who was in charge of making those decisions, I think I could sell it.
10% commission for the email address or phone of the person at Sony who makes those decisions!
Cheers,
DAN


Seth Shire
Fri 6 Aug 2010Link

Hi Everyone,

I have some technical questions for a small project I want to edit using iMovie, and I wonder if I may ask your advice.

I need to get the footage, from the person who shot the project, onto my computer. The person shot to cards using what looked like a flip camera. She claimed it was hi-def. I'm happy to edit it in standard def. She has the footage on her computer and she also has the cards.

I'm thinking that the simplest way for me to get the footage is for her to transfer the footage from her computer either directly onto my iMac or to an external hard drive that I have. I'm also thinking that another option would be to use a Firewire cable to connect her camera to my iMac and transfer the footage that way directly from the cards. In either event I think I should get the cards from her for back up. Does anyone have an opinion as to the best method for me to get the footage? Thanks.

Seth

Edited Fri 6 Aug 2010 by Seth Shire

Judy Lieff
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

Hello Everyone,

About a month ago I attended a seminar by a Publicist who said that in the current climate it is wise to try and get a publicist on board before entering the major festivals. He said that because there is such a huge deluge of submissions, it's helpful to either know one of the programmers or find a publicist who has programmer contacts.
Does anyone have any thoughts about this? I've been advised by ITVS folks to submit to festivals as early as possible – is it worth sending in a version that is not quite "tweaked" to it's best in order to make an early deadline? Or, is it better to wait till you have the best possible version and make it into the last possible deadline?

Thanks for your comments.

Best wishes,
Judy

Edited Wed 11 Aug 2010 by Judy Lieff

Christopher Wong
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

while it is usually best to submit the best possible version, you also don't want to wait too long to get everything just right. top-tier festivals like Sundance only have one or two open spots left by their late deadline. probably the best thing to do is to submit the best version you have by the regular deadline.

regarding the use of a publicist, that is the dirty secret of film festivals. programmers don't like to admit it, but publicists play a very large role in getting their films to the top of the consideration pile. this is because film festivals are constantly in search of buzz, and that is exactly what publicists are good at doing. and once a publicist gets your film into one A-list festival, then all the other festivals will soon come-a-knockin'.


Doug Block
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

Welcome aboard, Judy. If it's Sundance we're talking about, I'd submit your best version RIGHT NOW. You're at a huge advantage getting something to them earlier rather than later and I'm sure they'll see how great your film is even if it's not fully finished (full disclosure: I moderated a DocuClub work-in-progress screening of Judy's film, so I know firsthand).

By the way, the Mentoring Room is pretty much for non-members. As a full member, this kind of question should go in our Festivals topic.


Doug Block
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

In reply to Seth Shire's post on Fri 6 Aug 2010 :

Likewise, Seth, the reason you might not be getting any replies is the technical folks generally don't hang around the Mentoring Room. As a member, you're better off posting in the Editing topic.


Judy Lieff
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Wed 11 Aug 2010 :
Hi Doug,

I couldn't locate the Festivals topic last night – probably due to the fact that it was close to 2am!
Thanks for your note. We've locked picture but I wanted to get the sound in better shape before submitting. Festivals like Sundance are swamped with submissions – do you think it's helpful to know a programmer in instances like this?

Cheers,
Judy


John Burgan
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

(no need to "sign" your posts – they are already identified by your name and photo, if you have uploaded one.)


Christopher Wong
Wed 11 Aug 2010Link

judy,
when submitting to sundance, EVERYTHING is important... but great sound quality is probably the least crucial. i agree with doug – if your picture is locked, then get the submission into them now.

the best course is to proceed as such:
1) Get a good publicist (e.g. David Magdael, etc.)
2) Have your publicist send out a feeler to one of the programmers (e.g. David Courier)
3) Submit your cut
4) Have publicist follow up soon after

Early bird (with publicist) gets the worm!


Dean Hamer
Thu 12 Aug 2010Link

In reply to Judy Lieff's post on Wed 11 Aug 2010 05:50 UTC :
If you get into an "A" festival you'll be able to find a good publicist – plus the festival itself will probably have a really good person on board, and if the newspapers like you're film they will cover it. It's not surprising that a publicist told you to "buy early while supplies last"! What I would like to find is a publicist who works on a contingency fee; this much if you get a feature in the NYT, that much for a review in Variety, etc.


Robert Goodman
Fri 13 Aug 2010Link

That's never going to happen. If you find a publicist who'd agree to that arrangement, I'd run the other way. Variety reviews every film shown in competition at A-list festivals though the reviews may take months to appear. They also review films that appear likely to gain distribution.


Bill Jackson
Mon 23 Aug 2010Link

In reply to Judy Lieff's post on Wed 11 Aug 2010 :

I may be able to help you with the sound, quickly, if you haven't wrapped post production yet.


Sanford Lewis
Tue 7 Sep 2010Link

I am a new user of the site. Apologies if this question is already discussed somewhere on this site – I couldn't find it easily.

I am working on a feature length documentary related to dance and personal growth, for theatrical or broadcast release. My immediate question and quandary has to do with the degree to which I may undermine the ultimate product if I do incremental releases of related products (using some of the footage, for a different audience) prior to completion. It occurs to me that a lot of the footage that I am gathering will be of interest to the specialized audience of dancers who understand this form, and that this audience is different from the broader audience I hope to reach with the end product. So I am thinking about producing and releasing some products in the interim, either through digital download or DVD sales prior to completing the final film. One thing that will distinguished the final film is that there will be a core story arc completely different from the prior releases; also I envision a much broader audience rather than the specialized audience of the prior releases. This is partly an interim funding strategy, partly about creating buzz, and partly just a way of mitigating the artistic frustration of wanting to share footage with the smaller community that will most easily "get" it.

Questions:
- Is this a bad idea?
- How much (or in what circumstances) would this undermine entering the final film in film festivals?
- What are the things I need to avoid?
- Though it would complicate things, and not be 100%, would it be advisable to make a general practice of designating specific clips EITHER for the final film or the interim products but not both?
- Is there a discussion of this dilemma/strategy somewhere on the D-Word site already?


Dale Thompson
Fri 10 Sep 2010Link

I'm writing out some one page treatments this weekend and wanted to know if there's any specific font I should use for them. I know Courier is the traditional font for screenplays but does this also apply to treatments?

TIA,
Dale


Marj Safinia
Fri 10 Sep 2010Link

No. I would just try and avoid comic sans :)


Josh Rose
Mon 13 Sep 2010Link

Does a documentary live and die by its subject?


Doug Block
Tue 14 Sep 2010Link

No. Helps, though.


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