link too! Craig
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.
link too! Craig
production world for a long time and am making my first
documentary. I am just beginning the film festival application
process. Does anyone know anything about how to write a good
synopsis of your documentary for these applications? Is there a
book I can buy? Any advice, tips, information would be greatly
There are lots of examples of the materials prepared for PR including synopsis, fact sheets, etc.
Good luck! Craig
Market's No Borders section. Go to: www.ifp.org. You could also go
to IFP's office in NYC and look at back copies of their market
catalogues. AIVF's office in NY has an extensive library which could
There's also the Sundance website, where they have the past few
year's catalogues archived. For your purposes, that might be best of
all. I think it's www.sundance.org.
Good luck, Olympia!
of a large format dv tape going to a mini-dv. I don't want a composite
transfer bc I don't want to lose a generation. Does anyone know where
to get this done? Thank
you, but maybe you can woo me with your expertise?
I'm interested in any info on setting up a Final Cut Pro system that
I'm not likely to get from the Apple people, or any opinions from
people who've used the system in different forms. Specifically, what
types of decks, drives, other accessories are best or preferable? It
might be helpful to know that the project for which I'm inquiring is
being shot on PAL/16x9/DVCAM.
Thank you all!
for everything auhoritative you NEED to know about fcp
posted elsewhere. (it contains a new question)
I'm a filmmaker (12 years in the industry) and I'm about to embark
on my first documentary feature.
My topic is rather unique, so I can't reveal it online. Due to the
timely nature of my piece and my relative inexperience in the field,
I'd like to ask some seasoned pros a few key questions regarding:
1. co-productions, ie. finding the right partner(s) to help finance
and/or distribute my feature doc.
2. acquiring film clips and still photos, fair usage laws and public
3. the discovery of copyrights for films already made, plus
discovery of underlying literary rights of such films.
Any help would be appreciated! I can be reached at
maybe one at a time?
find comprehensive doc film libraries so I can check out what other
films have been made on this topic. I don't feel like I'm hitting
gold yet. Any sites you would recommend? Thanks.
+ "documentary film". Then under "documentary film, distributor".
Then you might contact the more prolific doc distributors (ie.
Filmmakers Library, California Newsreel, First Run Features) and
collectives for self-distributed docs like New Day Films.
notice by your bio that you are a thriving working doc
filmmaker...afraid of the competition, perhaps!? ;> ) and for the
quick reply to my querry.
My approach was exactly as you described, using Google. I'll check
out the distributors. Aside from the Canadian National Film Board
that approach hadn't occurred to me. Gotta dust off my research
skills I guess. And maybe there just haven't been many films made on
the topic I'm working on.
them out there. Those damn cheapie dv camcorders are to blame!
But clearly there's no scaring you off, so God bless.... And, yep,
ya gotta do your homework.
By the way, I wouldn't be scared off even if there have been other
films done on the subject. There's always room for diff. approaches
And yours will be better, of course.
list. How much do you charge to provide witty words of encouragement
to newbies in need?
I have a 43 minute English language doc for which I am looking to create a
Spanish language version. I have a good translation, which will be read by
the subject of the doc, who is a native speaker. My question is this: can
anyone recommend some good NYC firms that would be good to work with
on creating the new soundtrack, from recording the Spanish dialogue,
matching to picture, etc. I am looking for people with lots of experience in
this specialty area.
problem as well as asking myself is this realy as interesting as I
would like to think it is (answer:well, that depends...)Anyway, I
looked at past program descriptions of festivals I was interested in
to dtermine what kind of work they show, but more importantly how do
the programming people describe the material. That was really helpful.
I have visited these forums sporadically over the last year, but rarely posted.
I'm posting now because I'm having a major melt down and I want other
opinions or some perspective.
i'm in the painful final stages of completing a documentary I've worked on for 3
years about people in the haunted attraction industry. The film profiles
various men and women who have been building and directing "haunted
houses" for years. It's a portrait of a strange, unusual industry, but more
importantly a portrait of the creators, and what makes them do what they do,
and what makes patrons pay money to be scared.
In researching haunted houses, I of course read about "hell houses" and even
went to one in Denver for a week, where I shot some of the best footage I
have. (For those not familiar, hell houses are church ran haunted houses that
intend to scare morality into patrons through skits involving abortion, drugs,
homosexuality). However, the hell houses always stuck out as not belonging
in my movie, which is very much a valentine to Halloween and people who
draw some creative energy from this time of year.
Then, George Radcliff's HELL HOUSE emerged and begain getting raves at
My issue is that i fear people are going to compare my film to HELL HOUSE in
some way. HELL HOUSE is a wonderful movie (I've seen it), but very different
from my film. however, they are both about haunted houses, just opposite
ends of the spectrum.
I know this happens every day, that people get "scooped" before their film is
done. But, I am looking for advice on how to position my movie so that it
doesnt' get compared to HELL HOUSE and doesn't get perceived as a small
subject which another movie has already covered.
boxers came out. All were very good and quite successful.
Moral is, I think you position your film as if Hell House never
existed. There's always room for different p.o.v.'s about the same
(or similar) subjects.
I'm in the trenches of finishing the film, and sometimes it's hard to put
everything in perspective.
Back to the trenches, Sundance deadline on the horizon.
I know the chances are slim. You gotta keep hoping.
I'm done rendering. See ya later.
This issue is driving me crazy because everyone I ask has a diferent
answer. So here goes nothing...... Do I, or Do I not need a signed
release from all living persons that is in a shot segment. For
I shoot footage of an event. The footage shows groups of people doing
various things. Some shots show individuals taking part in
activities. Some shots are wide shots showing multiple activities
going on. In all but the widest shots people are recognizable. The
footage will be used as part of a doc.
Question: Do I need a signed release from every recognizable person
in every shot used? Some say I do, but can't tell me why. Some tell
me no unless the person has a speaking role.
In films or docs where street sceans are shot from a moving vehicle
showing hundreds of people walking, talking, working, and playing. Do
they go back and get signed releases from all those people !!!???? I
don't see how that is possible. Thanks for any help at all in this
but... personal releases are less about fear of lawsuits and more
about the need to get Errors and Omissions insurance, which any
broadcaster or distributor would want before taking on your film.
If someone sues, it's more likely they'll come after the one with the
bucks, not the poor indie docu filmmaker.
Sure, it's safer to get as many releases as you can, particularly if
they say something on camera. Or, if it's a sensitive or
controversial situation. But, generally speaking, the main concern of
the lawyers scrutinizing your film is do you have the releases of the
featured people in your various scenes.
In crowd scenes, I don't worry too much. Am I 100% guaranteed to
pass the E&O test? No. But, I calculate the slight gamble against
the knowledge that it's impossible for me to get everyone's release.
As a fallback, in post-production, you can always fuzz out the face
of those people in crowds you didn't get releases for.