In reply to Jo-Anne Velin's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :
I do not have any audio recording equipement. but i want to buy whole things which can record voice in good quaility. i do not have any microphone i will buy so i need to know which is good, which equipement is good, i want only for audi recording which i will use in docoumentary.
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.
In reply to Jo-Anne Velin's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :
In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Sat 28 Feb 2009 :
Please tell me that right equipment Name which can use in laptop and i can record
Reply to James Longley...
Hi James, sorry yes i mean downlaoding from the internet. I want to use footage from here http://www.archive.org/details/CombatAm1945 not ideal in terms of quality i suppose but it's what i need nonetheless. Any ideas?
In reply to Wang Fu's post on Sat 28 Feb 2009 :
Wang, I don't want to sound antiquate, but you may want to consider a DAT, and a good microphone. There are some excellent portable DAT recorders on the used market, they are lightweight so that you can bring it along in future projects (excellent for interviews or field work etc.), the quality is very high and then you can feed it to your computer both via analog or digital inputs, and edit with any audio software if there's some background noise to clean etc. I have a small Tascam that works great.
As for the microphone I can't help you much, since I'd guess it's different to record a spoken voice than singing voice or instruments. For singing solo voice I use a rather bulky microphone, for vocal ensembles two more compact Shure, they have a good range from which you can choose. Whatever you choose, I'd suggest you to buy two of the same, so you can also use them for live/field recordings in stereo.
Hope this helps.
Wang Fu, rather than asking a series of basic questions about production, it may be more helpful for you to take advantage of some online training resources to learn some fundamentals of film/tv production. I'm sure there are a number of sites offering this type of thing, but you'll find the following link to online training from the BBC helpful to start. Once you've done some research, you'll be able to come back here to have more specific questions addressed.
In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Fri 27 Feb 2009 :
so in terms of recording audio, if i were to put a wireless mic on the person i am documenting, wouldn't the audio come out all muffled because of movement? that being said, what is the best way to get audio? Im thinking regular boom
Would seeing the mic bother you? In news, it's accepted. In doc filmmaking, it's not. You can pick. Tiny mics like the Countryman B6 can poke through a button hole and never be seen. There are too many techniques on hiding mics to list here, but it can be done. Plus, if you buy a mic like the B6 you can get a capsule that boosts the high frequencies to compensate for the muffling.
If you have an assistant that can hold a good boom mic, it would probably be fine. Just don't try to shoot and hold the boom, too.
Hi my name is Jack and I was wondering about licensing to television and what some rates might be for documentaries which run around 50 in length. a link to any information would be very helpful.
In reply to Mark Barroso's post on Sun 1 Mar 2009 :
haha ill try to get an assistant, thats good advice and a good point on hiding the mic, mabey ill get him to even wear a black shirt to hide it? what ever ill do im gonna take a day to test shoot and try both out and see what sounds best. In terms of composition of shots, now everything is live when im shooting this so i wont have the time to align the most compositional shots, so what do you think is the best way to get coverage. Im thinking to play it safe. Like getting everything in the story is more important so ill keep it mostly wide shots, but my B-role will be close and thought out, i think that makes sense?
Sure, makes sense. Just remember that you're in charge of the set. They can get some learnin' another day. Today, we make video. Do what you're told or else I show the whole world you're a screw-up.
This works for me all the time.
I am really excited about this portal and all the helpful information you people share. Now I am hoping that someone can help me with my question.
This summer I am planning on going to Germany and then Poland to work on a piece about my mother who is searching for her birth house in Poland. I am planning on brining my own equipment, (camera, mic, tripod & laptop) into Europe, but I am not sure if I have to declare my camera with German customs.
From what I have heard German customs is really cracking down on people coming from America who bought electronics there so I don't want to get into trouble. I'd appreciate any advice. Thank you.
In reply to dustan lewis mcbain's post on Mon 2 Mar 2009 :
I would not advise you to stay wide for most of the shots. You will regret it later in editing.
The people who hired you are looking to promote themselves to schools with this video. Your customer wants the schools to be engaged in their presentation, they need to draw them in to get hired, so that should be your motivation too. The closer you are to your subject the more your audience will identify with them and like them. So I would go with an array of medium to close shots if I was you.
This is about working with children, right? So get lot's of close ups of the children, their eyes, a smile, a raised hand, and of course lot's of interaction between the social worker and the children. Once children are engaged in some sort of activity they are so natural on camera, and that will make you look good.
If you are nervous about your shooting skills you should go out and practice. I like to practice at the Union Square Farmers Market here in New York. You have a lot of people that are busy shopping and most likely they won't mind to be videotaped. Also, they are not going to stay at a fruit stand until you have found your perfect shot, so it's a perfect way to train yourself to make rapid decisions and get a full array of shots withing a limited time.
And definitely use Mark's advice; you have the camera, so you are the boss!!!
It sounds like an exciting project, I wish you good luck with it.
Tina – there are no restrictions on bringing camera, mic, tripod & laptop for your personal use, so it's mainly a question whether this is clearly pro equipment or more prosumer. If it's new gear, it might help to have some proof of ownership with you.
In reply to John Burgan's post on Wed 4 Mar 2009 :
thank you for your advice. Well, it is a Panasonic HVX200 camera, so I would say it's more on the pro than on the prosumer end, right? And you are sure that I don't have to declare it even if I should decide to stay in Germany? Do I have to tell the customs people about it though?
To Give a name of my documentary do I need to register name and get copyright or something like this ? Or just I can name documentary as I want?
name the documentary whatever you want... but i would not worry about that right now. you can decide on the title when you are done (or nearly done) with the film – right now, just concentrate on making it good.
In reply to tina flemmerer's post on Wed 4 Mar 2009 :
Hmm, well you're right, the HVX200 is more on the pro end. Have you looked into getting a journalist visa? That's what we do when we work officially in the US. Then at least you'd have no worries.
Visas are about people and passport controls. This is about equipment and customs. If you travel with professional equipment, you'll need an A.T.A. Carnet issued by your chamber of commerce. Pretty much a standard procedure.
Start here: http://www.uscib.org/index.asp?DocumentID=1843
thank you for your responses, they were very helpful.
But I think I might end up staying in Germany for a while which makes things easier. I just read that you don't have to pay taxes for your personal and professional household goods if you intend to move to Germany. So we'll see. Thanks again.
Before 3 years I shoot some important video from camera SONY DCR-HC26 . Now I want to use this 5 minutes video which I shoot from this simple camera.
All other video which I shoot is in good quality from good camera and I am using for my documentary.
Can I mix this five minutes video which I shoot from SONY DCR-HC26? Is this will affect bad in whole documentary? Actually what footage from (SONY DCR-HC26 ) I want to use it can not shoot again…
Thanks if anyone advice I should use or not.
It depends very much on the film you are making. Some combine material from a wide variety of sources – archive, home movies, news, high-medium-low quality – whereas with others the visual continuity is of prime importance.
The question is – what do you want to achieve with your project?
In reply to Wang Fu's post on Thu 5 Mar 2009 :
the simple answer is YES. you can always combine footage from many different sources. the result may or may not be visually pleasing, but if you can't reshoot something, you have to just use what you have.
My name is Maria Esther Pimentel. I´m a high school student in Los Angeles, interested in documentary projects. Can you please help me with the following questions?
1. What is the average range Budget in Documentary Films? The estimated dollar budget amount for my first-possible/future documentary is $450,084. For a documentary, the mentioned budget amount would be law, normal, or high? Keeping in mind that it will be film in Latin America.
2. Can you guide me to a link/site where I can see a sample of a professional business proposal for a documentary package, before presenting it to a possible investor?
3. Can you guide me to a link/site where I can see a copy of a professional sample budget?
Esther, it's great that you are thinking about such things as a professional proposal and budget this early in your career. While the budget you mention is not unheard of, especially for a project involving travel, it might be a bit high if this is going to be your first feature film. It would be hard to offer more specific advice without knowing more about the project (i.e., one country or several, how long the finished film will be, what you plan to shoot on, will you have to hire interpreters and do subtitles after shooting, etc.). My recommendation would be to join a free documentary filmmakers' listserv called Doculink which is headquarted right there in L.A. Its co-founder Robert Bahar also authored a very useful article on budgeting and an Excel Template Budget which you may find useful.
Although I am sure you've already thought of this (and maybe have already done it), if you haven't made a documentary before, you may want to try doing something short and local first to test the waters. You may also want to see if there are some youth media programs in LA or any kind of training at a public access TV station or community college which would be open to high school students.
Hi all! My name is Nicholas Wiesnet and I'm an undergraduate cinematographer at Chapman University in Southern California from Seattle, WA. I'm looking for a fixer in Cameroon – Anyone have any contacts? A friend recommended I check out this site when she heard that I was shooting a doc there. Any suggestions or contacts would be MUCH appreciated!
In reply to tina flemmerer's post on Wed 4 Mar 2009 : I've heard the ATA Carnets can be expensive, and an easier route is to have a U.S. Customs Declaration of all your gear as you leave the U.S. Apparently for personal gear it's just as good as a Carnet in establishing proof of ownership and origin of goods.
That's good enough for an easy return to the U.S., but it doesn't guarantee you hassle-free entry into the country you're visiting.
I am working on a documentary in Canada, though I am US based. Are there any considerations for working with a fiscal sponsor in another country? Most of the donors for the film will likely be Canadian.
Related to that issue, if I don't use a fiscal sponsor, is there any benefit to a person donating to my film? Thanks! –c
A US fiscal sponsor will only be able to offer the tax incentive to US taxpayers, so you'd have to seek out a similar thing in Canada if you want to appeal primarily to Canadian taxpayers. However, if you're seeking US foundation $$, you won't be able to get them (usually) unless you have a US fiscal sponsor. Sounds like you might want to have both?
Generally speaking, a donor will give money to your film because they care about the subject matter, because they care about you or because they care about documentary. Ideally all three. It's very rare that someone will give you money just for the tax incentive. That's a sweetener, for sure, but the real reason anyone will give you money is because you're passionate, dedicated and trying to tell a story for important reasons.
Very helpful answer, Marj! I'm considering partnering with a local museum in Canada since it is relevant to the documentary and is a beloved attraction in the town. I will keep my antenna up in case there is interest on the US side to consider getting a sponsor here. Thanks for the advice. –c
Wondering if there are good or recommended choices for choosing mini-DV tape brands and quality for shooting an HDV doc? Thanks.
any opinions on the Canon XH-A1 HDV?
or JVC GY-HM100U?
In reply to tina flemmerer's post on Tue 3 Mar 2009 :
Btw thx tina for the advice i've been practicing in public places, works great
I have recently been asked to secure a distribution agreement by a client for a completed documentary. How/where can I submit content for consideration?
Is there a place to go where a person with no history in this industry will be taken seriously?
In reply to Michael Fagans's post on Mon 9 Mar 2009 :
Don't waste your money on "HDV quality" tapes. I use Sony DVC Premium tapes in a Z1U and an A1U. I rarely see dropouts...maybe one in every 20 tapes.
Ventura Film Festival
The Ventura Film Festival, which was started in 2004 by Jordan Older and his father, has recently concluded its
first event of 2009 at the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura, California with the Ventura Film Festival "Fun Day"
on February 16, 2009 at 2pm.
The Ventura Film Festival is a combination online and traditional film festival requiring all submissions to be
uploaded online and submitted via traditional means. The Ventura Film Festival has maintained that one of it's main
goals is to give a large part of any proceeds to forest and ocean preservation efforts. The Ventura Film Festival
features independent films from around the world and from local film makers focusing on environmental issues such as
forest and ocean preservation, humanitarian issues, surf, skate, extreme/action sports, sports, martial arts, and
The Ventura Film Festival opened it’s 2009 events on Monday February 16, 2009 at the Majestic Ventura Theater in
Ventura, California with a “fun day”. The event marked the 6th anniversary of the Ventura Film Festival which was
started by Jordan Older and his father in 2004. The Ventura Film Festival board of directors were present to show
their selection of currently received entries for the 2009 Ventura Film Festival. The festival board includes
Hollywood film makers Dustin Dean and U.S. Olympian John Godina who is the most decorated shot putter in U.S.
athletics history. Ventura Film Festival is a green organization and accepts entries and submissions online at the
festival’s official web site, http://venturafilmfestival.org. Part of the profits from the Ventura Film Festival
will go directly towards environmental issues such as forest and ocean preservation. The “fun day” served as a warm
up for the main event of the 2009 Ventura Film Festival which takes place on July 5th.
The Ventura Film Festival gives out no awards. We prefer not to have competition and to simply celibrate great
films as works of art and enjoy a fun event that provides support for environmental issues such as forest and ocean
preservation. From time to time we may give notice of special recognition to certain films.
The Ventura Film Festival has become a partner with the world's biggest film festival marketing organization
Withoutabox. The partnership was on request of Withoutabox executive Sara Nixon-Kershner on Feburary 18, 2008.
Withoutabox provides submission and marketing service to over 200,000 filmmakers in 200 countries as well as manage
submission receiving, judging, and notification, schedule publishing, and the ability to sell tickets using targeted
ads on well known film site IMDB.
Submitting to the Ventura Film Festival is a two step process. BOTH STEPS ARE REQUIRED!!!
1) upload your submission to http://venturafilmfestival.net (REQUIRED)
2) Submit via Withoutabox using this link: http://www.withoutabox.com/login/7761 (REQUIRED)
Submissions that are not uploaded to http://venturafilmfestival.net will not be considered.
In reply to Mike Flounlacker's post on Mon 16 Mar 2009 :
I'm guessing the military is asking for this so you can shoot on base. No?
Hi, this is Rick Minnich in Berlin, Germany. I'm a US-born doc filmmaker who's been based in Berlin since 1990. I've made a number of shorts and feature-length docs, most recently FORGETTING DAD about my father's bizarre and inexplicable case of amnesia, which has haunted my family for the past nineteen years. Some of you might have caught the film at its premiere at IDFA last November. This spring it will also be playing at It's All True, Belfast, Full Frame, HotDocs, and Planete Doc Review in Warsaw, and I would love to meet other D-Worders at one of these festivals, here in Berlin or elsewhere. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Hi Rick – welcome aboard (it's been a long while, but you're here at last).
Not sure you need any mentoring with your track record (hint – this post would have been more appropriate in Introduce Yourself but hey, what the heck). Your email and contact details are available to other members on your profile.
To everyone else: do yourself a favour and check out Forgetting Dad – you'll be glad you did.
Hey, give me a break! I'm still learning the ropes. Thanks for plugging FORGETTING DAD though.
Welcome, Rick, great to have you here. And best of luck with Forgetting Dad.
Hi Doug, Thanks for the welcome. Jan Rofekamp is repping Forgetting Dad. 51 Birch Street came up in one of our first conversations. FD has been drawing lots of comparisons to your film. I hope you can see FD at Full Frame or HotDocs. It would be nice to meet you in person as well!
No plans to attend either, alas, as I'm in the middle of editing the new film. Will you be passing through NYC? And send my regards to Jan next time you speak, he's the best.
Rick, show it in berlin please – we met for a nanosecond in IDFA, but I was there only about 36 hrs, and didn't see FD.
In reply to Jo-Anne Velin's post on Wed 18 Mar 2009 :
Hi Jo-Anne, We'll be showing FD at Babylon Mitte as part of the Achtung Berlin-New Berlin Film Award festival in mid-April. Please come and introduce yourself!
In reply to Doug Block's post on Wed 18 Mar 2009 :
I suppose we'll have a screening in NYC at some point, but no concrete plans yet. The good folks at Tribeca didn't want the film, breaking my heart forever ...
Yes, Jan is the best. I'm very happy he took on the film. He's been making a lot of TV sales around the world, much to my delight!
Rick, now that you're a member, and since you hardly need mentoring, let's continue these various conversations in their proper topics (Festivals, Shameless Self-Promotion, etc.).
Hi, I am a first time filmmaker who has been shooting a doc for the past 2 years all over the world but I didn't got clearance from any of the countries I was shooting in. The film is about a humanitarian building schools and bringing aid to children in impoverished regions. We shot in Kenya, Egypt, India, Nepal and Sudan. I didn't get any clearance because he has always taken people along to document the work he does and I was taking over that roll. Now however I want to use the footage in a feature length documentary about him, with ambitions of getting it broadcast and in festivals. Is this possible. Do all filmmakers get clearance from the countries they shoot in if they are hoping to get them broadcast or shown at festivals. Also the organization is a non-profit and all profits from the film are going back to the charity – if that makes any difference. Any help or even a point in the right direction of where to get advice would be great. Thank you.
I am looking for input on acquiring archival rights, specifically when do you need to do so. I have about twenty different clips of archival footage (from old science reels I found at the Nat'l Archives to clips from news reports to bytes from two popular films) in my film that I don't currently have rights to. I have been assuming that I need to track down and try to get rights for all of this before I can take my film to festivals or think about any other forms of distribution. A friend recently said that might not be the case since they are all under 30 seconds and I am using them all as part of my critique/argument that they might fall under the Fair Use parameters.
I would love any advice on this.
Also would love to hear how folks actually go about securing rights,i.e. do you need it in writing from wherever it came from? Is there a specific legal document that you need to have them sign?
What would you expect to pay for say 30 seconds from FOX news?
How do the Fair Use guidelines work in reality? Does POV allow for them, for instance?
Regan, your questions really belong in the Research and Archives topic. Graeme, yours go in the Legal Corner. We like to keep discussions in their proper topics so that we can find the info later more easily. This topic is really for Enthusiasts who don't have access to the other topics.
Sorry Doug. I was only an enthusiast at the time I posted. I was unsure if I would qualify as a member. I did re-post in Legal after becoming a Member. I won't do it again.
No worries, Graeme. That definitely happens. Regan, on the other hand, needed a good thrashing ;-)
hah! i got it, i got it...i've been "schooled" properly now, i do believe. no double (god forbid triple!) posts. be sure to read back in the threads. don't show excessive enthusiasm. don't praise Doug for fear of losing your mouth literally. if you feel the urge to curse, head to the PISS room or the Parking lot. Anything else I/we newbies should know? ;-)
how are you? I'm in the process of trying to find funding for my documentary. Since my company is an LLC I was told i needed a fiscal sponsor if i wanted to receive nonprofit grants. I live in NYC and was wondering which fiscal sponsor was best with the least hidden fees. And also if anyone knew how i could find grants.. there are so many shady companies out there... Thanks!!
In addition to Arts Engine, other reputable fiscal sponsors for film include:
International Documentary Association
San Francisco Film Foundation (formerly Film Arts)
Documentary Educational Resources
and probably two or three others whose names I have inadvertently omitted
All fiscal sponsors will charge you fees, but they are not hidden. For some, you may need to be a member of the organization. Some may also have an application fee (and possibly a maintenance fee for year to year). And most will charge between 5-10% as an administrative fee for funds which come in to the organization. You do not generally need to live in the same state as your fiscal sponsor, but, if you are planning on applying for state grants, you very well may need a fiscal sponsor based in that state.
Thank you Thank you thank you...I was looking at IFP and NYFA. NYFA charges a higher percentage but seems to provide more services ...and their in NYC where I am.
The IFP is close enough, Yixi. They're in Dumbo (right down the block from my office), and it's just a short subway ride from midtown Manhattan. It was a while back, but I wasn't impressed with NYFA when they sponsored my first film. Wheras I'm very impressed by the IFP as an organization. But you should speak to some producers who've worked with both firsthand.
I just found out about a programme being offered by Seneca College here in Toronto called the Documentary and Filmmaking Summer Institute. It's an intensive 14 week course in doc filmmaking and the faculty list looks impressive (guest lectures by Alan King, Sturla Gunarsson, Jennifer Baichwal, etc.)
But, does anyone feel that these kinds of short intensive courses can really teach you filmmaking? As someone with a day job, this would require at best an unpaid leave of absence (and at worst, my resignation), so I'm looking for some guidance as to whether the filmmakers here think this would be worthwhile.
Probably a better solution than a 4-year college program. My feeling in general is that no one can teach you to be a filmmmaker. You can learn techniques and a sense of the job but experience makes a huge difference. Filmmaking is an art form and as such requires process.
I think a lot depends on you, James. Some people learn best by hearing from experts and having the time and space of a classroom setting to experiment, work on teams with other students, and make mistakes without consequence. Others learn by going out and just start making films, either on their own with the help of a few mentors or by working on others' projects before tackling their own.
The faculty certainly looks impressive and 14 weeks seems more than feasible to work on a student documentary piece. But that said, I don't know if I would recommend quitting your day job to do this. Surely there are other educational programs which you could take at night or on weekends. And especially if your end goal is to become a writer or a publicist, you might be better off just working on somebody's film to get a sense of what's involved. I'm sure you can hear what a lot of these experts have to say on a panel at Hot Docs or elsewhere.
Thanks, Robert and Erica, for your wisdom. I think if I wanted to, I could make contact with some filmmakers here and get some work on a film doing something, so maybe it's not so important for someone like me.
I guess the thought of "running off to join the circus" for 14 weeks sounded pretty good.
I have just put up a documentary on funeral directing i made a couple of years ago.
I am looking for some feedback or ideas on where to go from here, possibly make an extended version.
Ideas and feedback all appreciated!
Apologies as i know this isn't the place for this post but i haven't applied for full membership yet! I'll do it, i promise i will!
And this is a loooong shot I expect but i am scouring LA for Office space, nothing huge just somewhere downtown that is secure and has a few desks, power points etc.
Oh and cheap as possible!
In reply to Claire Forgie's post on Sun 12 Apr 2009 :
Hi Claire – Just watched it, it's pretty good so far, i enjoyed it. In the opening scene with the guy taking the call in bed, that deep, donnie darko-esque ambient sound, did you create that? Or did i imagine it?
If you were thinking of making an extended version here are a few thoughts..
If you can do more filming It would be interesting to see some of the different funerals that people have whether religious or especially not so. What kind of unusual requests do people make? Items in coffins for example, the red wine bottle and the football scarf that are mentioned. If you could get permission it would be nice to see some of these things to get a visual. I guess access to actual funerals could be key, to see real people grieving death and celebrating life is usually powerful.
There is a mention of "the history of funerals" maybe that's an avenue to explore a little? Along with the change in law regards cremations? What about the guys that work there? What are they like when they're not at work? What kind of houses do they live in? Do they go for drinks after work? Christmas parties etc?
Oh also you show a framed portrait of an ancestor? Can you scan this and use in the film that way? If it's a family business are there photos of fathers or grandfathers that could be shown and talked about?
I found it pretty engrossing generally. I mean to see deceased human beings – i find it quite affecting, most of us have no experience of such things. I notice there's no music but maybe it doesn't need any...
Hi all, I am new here and have not yet gotten to introduce myself. I am an anthro/film student at Columbia University in NYC and currently tossing ideas, scribbling in my journal and generally obsessing in thought around ideas for my first film. I was wondering if any one would suggest a good small handheld and would also not mind telling me what their choices pro's are, why they like their suggestion.
I have a PD 150 and still love it, but I was thinking of something much smaller...
I am feeling tongue tied. Every distribution workshop I have taken thus far has suggested that you call the programmer of the film festival that you have submitted to and strike up a conversation/introduce yourself. I keep picking up the phone and drawing a blank on what will be important for me to say, what will not seem redundant and irritating to someone who might get these calls all day long. Any suggestions?
I think that advice may be overrated, Katinka. Personally, I've never done it without a specific question. You might, for instance, call to say you have an updated sample and is it too late to swap it for the one you submitted. Or even a new synopsis. And it is a way for to get your film on their radar. But I'd only do that if you actually have an updated sample or synopsis that's significantly better.
any one knows where are the pitching forum for CROSS MEDIA or 360 degree projects in Europe? any help appreciated!
Can someone link me to a good legal refresher on filming in the US and, if possible, Massachusetts? I'm about to embark on a large scale project here and I don't want to get unreasonably hassled by the man. Thanks!