darla, go ahead and keep posting in here whenever you need help. if someone feels like they've already answered your question, they don't need to respond again. or, if you prefer, you are always welcome to send an email to any of us who have offered helpful advice before. it's not easy starting out on your first project – especially one with an international bent – so we definitely want to encourage you on your way.
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.
Hey guys, I really didn't think I was committing a capital sin by pointing out to Darla that we'd already answered her question.
Please notice that I made this observation at the end of my answer to her question.
I happen to work in communications so I try to pick my words carefully.
Since others – as well as myself – had given Darla good advice the first time around, it seemed logical to suggest that she ought to check out the old posts.
Regardless of what you may think Rob, this hardly constitutes making "a big deal" about anything, much less "churlish" behavior.
Wolfie, you're a blowhard and a bully who can't remember what you've said from one day to the next, let alone showing any evidence of being able to pick your word carefully. Rather than Darla re-reading your old posts, how about you go back and read your own bloviating post about your supperlative interview technique and tactics.
I have no difficulty admitting that some of my posts were long-winded. But does that make me a "bully?"
And you didn't even take off your shirt for me...
Guys, allow me to say my intentions were – are – good and I feel that I've been misinterpreted. Anyway, for me 'nuff said.
If you all don't mind, I'd prefer to drop this matter and get back to ... answering questions and reading interesting answers.
Guys, guys. I'm not sure if you are all going back and forth in good fun or not, but we should remember that the mentoring room is part of the D-Word public forum, so whatever is posted here may show up anywhere. Not everyone in here knows our backstories, backposts, or personality quirks and it may not make some folks feel welcome to have fighting in here nor any discouragement of questions or discussion.
I'm no topic cop, but might make a citizen arrest to suggest any further discussion of who is in the right or wrong be taken to the private forum parking lot, so we can focus here on providing constructive advice.
Erica's right. You're certainly welcome to meet in the Parking Lot and go 15 rounds (you could even take your shirts off first). One of the pleasures of professional membership.
Totally not sure what's up here. Wolfgang, you answered a question I never asked.
Doug, is there a limit on posts?
I asked a question that I never asked before – how best to get my footage into a format with time codes to give to the translator. Sometimes, since I'm very new at this, I don't always know how to ask the question most eloquently.
By the way, thanks Rob, and Erica, and Christopher – and of course, all of you.
My footage is on PAL (yes, I know you all know this), so I've gotta get someone with a PAL camera deck to run my tapes through FCP and then do time codes (assuming I will also edit in PAL) and put all that back out on either DVDs or Quicktime files to give to my translator. I think I'm understanding this correctly.
I'm close to NYC, so I guess I can just pay someone to do this for me. I really don't have too many other resources (no camera, no FCP).
If your tapes are DVCAM, a DSR 11 deck will do and these are easy to find (rent). You would also need a laptop with FCP.
If you know someone or have a friend who has a Mac with FCP, they could capture for you. Then it would be simple for them to burn DVDs with timecode. And then you could mail or ship the DVDs to your dp in Italy. For safety, keep copies for yourself.
Allow me to suggest that, while you're at it, you might want to buy a small external disc (200 GB would do and is relatively cheap, US$299.00).
This way, you'll have a backup and – more importantly – you'd already have your video ready to be logged, whenever you decide to do the edit. Furthermore, a 200 GB hard disc will provide more than enough space to edit your doc.
To everyone who replied, thank you for your time. I know I have to be diligent and creative. It's that now I have to walk the walk of documentary making. For me personally feeling all those things is different than understanding them, or studying them first. i.e. storylines wavering. Thanks for the inspirational kick in the rear from Erica, Jennifers and everyone else.
Erica, I contemplated including myself in the story but I don't want it to be about me, or run through me. I'm actually scared of bringing the attention, or focus on myself. I want it to be about Egyptians. I guess want and get may be two different things but I hope not in this case.
p.s. transcribing english takes a heck of alot of time. I'm awesome at english, and humble ;-). I think I need to start transcribing even though I don't have alot of hours. Not to mention there is audio.....
Did I mention d-word rocks?
Ma' Assalam from Sharm El Sheik
I'm going to be directing short interviews with people at a union convention. This might lead to short videos about a theme or union campaign. We are trying to figure out what kind of backdrop and lighting to use for the interviews. One idea is to use a white backdrop, lit fairly flat, and change up frame lengths – inspired by the look of Errol Morris's Move On ads: http://www.errolmorris.com/content/election04/main.html
Another option would be to use a purple backdrop – the union's color. The lighting kit that's been reserved by the conference organizers includes one 350 fresnel, one 150 fresnel, a 650 fresnel, plus chimeras and gels. I don't know a lot about lighting, so I'm looking for advice about whether these lights are appropriate for achieving this kind of a "natural" look. Whether a white backdrop will be more challenging to light than purple... also, what to use as the backdrop – cloth draped somehow or a firm backdrop of some kind? Thanks for any suggestions!
What's the best way to organize footage to prepare for editing? Do you rely on creating paper cuts, or do you have a better system?
(Since you were previously on the subject of transcripts, I also do transcriptions with time code and if anyone has questions about it, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lucia – if you were to shoot a greenscreen, you could make up your mind afterwards, or even use other footage/photos as a backdrop if the project really took off.
Lucia: You didn't ask, but make sure you have a quiet room and good mics – I've been hosed on audio in this kind of situation before. As for lighting, you won't be shining a light on the background if you're trying to achieve the look of the erol morris link. You only light a backdrop if you're trying to create texture or a pattern. You need to read up on the three point lighting technique, or better yet, practice in your living room with a real person.
Jamie: I found this training video from Creative Cow usefull.
I am in the business of filming people's lifestories but no one takes their lifestory that seriously it seems--and certainly not seriously enough to pay me to make their films (again it would appear from a bit of market research). What great ways do you think I could use to kick start the idea that everyone should consider putting their lifestory on video?
I imagine a bunch of talking heads telling them that it is a good idea and putting that on the web won't work too well. Any creative thoughts?
I know a couple of people who tried to do this and never found the right formula to make it cost effective. The clients want a lot and pay very little.
My suggestion to make it worth your while is to be the guy who shows up at family reunions and tapes people talking to each other. Good audio is the key, because it will be a noisy situation – camera mics won't work. But the oft-told stories will be great and everyone will feel comfortable doing it. Plus, you get everything in a day.
Memorial videos are another idea if you can work fast. Still photos to music. I was hired once to set up in a room away from the memorial service and folks came in and talked about their memories.
The common denominator is to be where families naturally gather.
I did some memorial videos. What a great feeling when you get it right!
Thanks Mark for that suggestion. I agree with Tony--it can be satisfying when you get it right! That is what keeps me going.
Laurence-have you checked out the Association of Personal Historians ? If you search their membership directory, you'll find companies that also create video biographies. The APH also holds an annual conference that members rave about on their listserv.
Hi Everyone :)
I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me some advice please? I have just graduated from University with a BA Hons English. Very keen to get involved in doc filmmaking and am currently writing on mental health. Any ideas as next step into the industry?
Thank you very much,
Don't listen to the elderly patients in this institution, Claire. Have you any practical experience in making docs? It's pretty easy these days to get hold of a DV camera. What's the mental health idea? Do you have a concrete subject or is it more a general idea at this stage?
John's right. Any idiot can make a doc. I am exhibit "A". I had no practical experience when I started (probably obvious if you watch one of my movies.) I still don't have any.
Some practical advise. Get a DV camera. You can get one for about $250.
Get a Macintosh computer. It will cost you about $1000. It will come with iMovie. I use FinalCut Pro, but any of the films I've made I could have made on iMovie.
Two best pieces of advise I ever got about making movies:
1) Watch old movies and study how they get people in and out of rooms.
2) Anything that's worth doing is worth doing poorly.