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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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Monica Williams
Wed 27 Aug 2008Link

Thanks Jason! I'm glad that you liked it – it needs a lot of work still but I'm hoping it works to get me to the next phase. I really appreciate the feedback and your thoughts. What I hope for the film is that it might provide clarity as this is such a murky topic and so tricky to think about.

Edited Wed 27 Aug 2008 by Monica Williams

Doug Block
Wed 27 Aug 2008Link

Now that Monica's a member, discussion of her trailer can migrate to the Works In Progress topic. Congrats on making the big leap, Monica.

Monica Williams
Wed 27 Aug 2008Link

Thanks Doug! Peace out enthusiasts! :-)

Edited Wed 27 Aug 2008 by Monica Williams

Chris Reed
Tue 2 Sep 2008Link

In reply to Skyler B's post on Mon 25 Aug 2008 : As one who has used PCs for almost 20 years and who never cared anything about Macs, I have to tell you that editing on a PC is more aggravation than it is worth. I used Premiere, Premiere Pro, blah blah blah. You will have program crashes, system crashes, conflicts, on and on. Buy a Mac and get Final Cut Studio. Yes, it is a lot more of an initial investment but I cannot tell you how many hours – days – weeks I WASTED with PCs and editing.

Do I like the Mac better than the PC? No, not really. I have trouble navigating the interface and overall, to me it is just a machine. But I will admit that I have now owned it for one year, never opened the case, have had a few crashes and a few program lockups but I have never had any data destroyed, lost or corrupted. I have never booted the computer and ended up in Limbo. Equally important is the Final Cut (and everything that comes bundled with it) is FAR superior to Premiere. In this case, I do believe you get what you pay for.

I'll be curious if others agree with this. In any event, good luck.

Robert Goodman
Tue 2 Sep 2008Link

There are plenty of working systems on the Windows platform. Avid, Vegas Video, Edius, etc. I've used them all. Never had the issues you've had. This is likely due to making sure that there are no word processing applications or other non-essential editing tools on the same computer. People expecting to use one computer for everything will have nothing but trouble.

The other issue is cooling. Computers fail because they don't have adequate cooling especially ones with lots of drives. It's best to run an edit system so the ambient temperature is 62 degrees in the room where the system resides or that cold air is supplied to the computer. I often see people running systems that are operating in the 90 degree range. Expect failures as soon as the temperature rises.

Jill Kelly
Tue 2 Sep 2008Link

hi, thanks to Eli for mentioning that the hvx p2 does not tape in hd, only sd, it finalized my buying or rather waiting to buy the new panasonic that comes out in october, 2 pounds lighter with no tape only p2 cards.My question, i read that it is very unlikely to get funding for a first doc, i'm wondering should i choose a different subject to my "dream doc" for my first?One that would be closer to home, aka, cheaper etc to get my feet wet?would an instructional film work?I made a 10 minute doc at school,hardly enough but how much experience is needed to seriously consider finding successful funding?Is it also having a executive director?I'm in for the long haul and i have already begun work on my "dream film" but i would like to be smart about getting some work and credit under my belt, so i can be taken seriously, cheers

Chris Reed
Tue 2 Sep 2008Link

Does anyone have a recommendation for the best and most reliable recordable DVDs? I do not want CHEAP. I want EXCELLENT! I need DVD-R inkjet printable.

Thanks, all!

Eli Brown
Tue 2 Sep 2008Link

Watershield discs by Taiyo-Yuden. Nice quality, pretty reliable, and inkjet prints that don't smear or wipe away...

Brad Studstrup
Thu 4 Sep 2008Link


I want to travel from the U.S. to Europe for a shoot (first port of entry is actually Morocco) with two checked bags of video equipment – a light and a lens. Do I need a carnet, or is a rental agreement sufficient for customs?


Robert Goodman
Thu 4 Sep 2008Link

checking video equipment with the airlines is a bad idea. Theft rampant. Best to ship it or rent it there. If you do bring it, then you will need a carnet if it's pro gear. If it looks like a tourist camera you can sneak past. However, you should be aware that if you get stopped by customs you will be required to post the full retail value of the equipment in cash to enter the country with it. Negotiating can bring it down somewhat but there's never any guarantee. A carnet is cheap insurance.

Skyler Buffmeyer
Sat 13 Sep 2008Link

i know i already asked this question but....i am totally lost on the whole archive business. I am looking for archives that represent women negatively in the meadia, ie...rap videos, make up ads, models ect. ect. I really need help plus, I don't know any of the rules/laws of archives.
Can someone please help?
Thanks a bunch!

Mark Charles Berlin
Sun 14 Sep 2008Link

Can anyone in the Michigan area direct me to get funding for my film?


Mark Charles Berlin
Sun 14 Sep 2008Link

Is the Michigan film office giving out grants?

Joe Scherrman
Wed 17 Sep 2008Link

Mark, you might start here:

Be sure to learn about the incentives Michigan is offering.

Le Sheng Liu
Sun 21 Sep 2008Link

I'm not new to D-Word. I joined earlier this yr but I am a relatively new transplant to LA (been here since early 07). Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself: My name is Le Liu. My long-term objective is to write, direct, and produce my own feature docs, although as of late I've been thinking about TV and internet distribution a lot more.

My website reel is here if you wanna see my feature doc, my short films, or my speaking engagements :)

And this is the blog I keep for a long-term project I'd like to eventually launch....

I work M-F til about 7pm in Sherman Oaks (for the Emmy-nominated A&E show Intervention). But other than that, I've been wanting to make myself available to doc filmmakers who need help with whatever. I've done PA work, scheduling/coordinating, editing on FCP 3, public relations, film fest submissions, film fest boothing, and lots of other random stuff. At this point, I am mostly interested in development/funding so I can learn how to get my project off the ground (i.e. my blog) and into the real world of production.

In any case, if you're in the LA area and want an assistant (preferably paid, but I'll take whatever), feel free to CONTACT ME OFF-LIST.

Stefan Immler
Mon 22 Sep 2008Link

Sorry if this has been asked a thousand times already, but is there a comprehensive web site that lists all organizations that have development grants for docs? I am starting to shoot my first doc and could use a grant or two ;-)


Christopher Wong
Mon 22 Sep 2008Link

stefan, the grants section of the IDA site is not a bad place to start. it's not absolutely comprehensive but it has a lot of region-specific grants listed...

Emily Meyers
Mon 6 Oct 2008Link

Hello everyone,

I was hoping to learn a little bit more about distribution companies. We currently have a film related to methamphetamine addiction and recovery that has gotten wonderful reviews and won numerous awards, and were looking into signing on with a distributor. What companies jump out at you as either being a good fit or have been a positive experience for you? Thanks for your help!

Laurie Little
Mon 6 Oct 2008Link

Hi, I hope my doubled intro will be deleted by you, the mentors, as I couldn't figure out how to delete my extra post.


Doug Block
Mon 6 Oct 2008Link

done, laurie. you only have about 5 minutes to delete or correct a post yourself. whereas we almighty powerful hosts can delete anything at any time. wheeeeee!!!!!

Arturo Glass
Wed 8 Oct 2008Link

We have a 90 minute doc shot and recently accepted into a couple "A" list film festivals. What we'd like to know is what sort of distribution deal we should be seeking at the festivals in the event the film wins or doesn't win awards. What kind of numbers should we be seeking for theatrical distribution? For television – HBO, Showtime, something like that? I know the best bet with theatrical is always trying to get more upfront rather than hoping for royalties down the line, but what ballpark figures should we be seeking?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Arturo Glass
Fri 10 Oct 2008Link

If it makes any difference, the doc is a direct cinema (verité) w/out narration, that is, plays out like a normal fiction film.

Jessamy Meyer
Sun 12 Oct 2008Link

I just joined, and at the moment am trying to figure out some translator issues for the documentary I'm editing- lots of footage in Hmong! Would anyone know of any good Hmong translators what would be the best way to give HD footage to a translator? Disks? Hard drives??

Also, for traveling and documentary filmmaking abroad, I have some team members going to Laos. Would anyone know of a good 'fixer' in Laos?

Mark Barroso
Mon 13 Oct 2008Link

What's a team member?

Andre Dahlman
Wed 15 Oct 2008Link

Hoping to glean some knowledge regarding forming an LLC for a documentary.

Here's the back story:

Been working on a doc for almost a year now and I just got my fiscal sponsorship from the IDA. No doubt the dollars will be rolling in in no time (kidding kidding). But I AM hoping to do some serious fund raising and I want to make sure I protect myself financially.

The IDA fiscal sponsor form requires I submit a W-9 tax form with either my social security # or a Tax ID. Thus far I have merely opened a separate bank account and just keep track of finances with basic accounting software. Things seem to be getting more serious now and I'm considering starting an LLC.

Two questions:
1 – Has anyone with fiscal sponsorship from the IDA used their personal social security number? Did you encounter any problems submitting your taxes?

2- If I do decide to form an LLC, what are the advantages of forming an LLC for a general production company VS forming an LLC for a specific project. I hear a lot of people form the later.

Many thanks for any advise/ online resources you could point me towards.

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