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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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Randolfe Wicker
Thu 11 Aug 2005Link
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
Thu 11 Aug 2005Link
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
Thu 11 Aug 2005Link
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
Thu 11 Aug 2005Link
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
Fri 12 Aug 2005Link
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
Fri 12 Aug 2005Link
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
Fri 12 Aug 2005Link
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
Sun 14 Aug 2005Link
I'm still trying to figure out why this happens... hope to have it
fixed soon.

Ben Kempas
Sun 14 Aug 2005Link
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
Mon 15 Aug 2005Link
No problem. Just as long as things are fixed now, everything is
fine.

Tim Pearce
Thu 1 Sep 2005Link
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
Thu 1 Sep 2005Link
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
Thu 1 Sep 2005Link
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
Fri 9 Sep 2005Link
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
Sat 10 Sep 2005Link
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
Sat 1 Oct 2005Link
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
Tue 18 Oct 2005Link
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
Wed 26 Oct 2005Link
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
Wed 26 Oct 2005Link
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
Wed 26 Oct 2005Link
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
Thu 27 Oct 2005Link
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
Thu 27 Oct 2005Link
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
Fri 28 Oct 2005Link
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
Wed 9 Nov 2005Link
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
Wed 9 Nov 2005Link
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.

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