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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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James Longley
Sat 13 Nov 2010Link

Sorry to be flip. Doug is correct, as usual. That's why he runs the joint.

Edited Sat 13 Nov 2010 by James Longley

Timoty Gibbs
Sat 13 Nov 2010Link

Thanks, Doug, I'll investigate. Have you heard anything about this "club"? I'd think if someone like Oprah was looking for documentaries, it would be another great broadcast opportunity but no one seems to be talking about it. Do filmmakers not know about it or is it a bad thing?


James Longley
Sat 13 Nov 2010Link

It is a good thing. Any invitation to watch documentary films is a good thing. Shun the Frumious Bandersnatch! But watch docs. We live in the real world.

Edited Sat 13 Nov 2010 by James Longley

Jason Osder
Sat 13 Nov 2010Link

Here is info on the OWN documentary project – you need to click into the Flash site from this link.

http://www.rocofilms.com/

The "club" is based on the book club: one doc per month on cable TV and DVD mail order – an invitation to "get off the couch" have a discussion, do something.

I agree with James says: a good thing.

To me, it's sort of like a new model: traditional, digital, hybrid, Oprah.


Laura Moire Paglin
Mon 15 Nov 2010Link

My hunch is – to be broadcast by "the club' that your a doc already has to be successful – a hit on the festival scene, awards, nominations, etc. – I could be wrong of course....


Timoty Gibbs
Tue 16 Nov 2010Link

Funny that an announcement was just made about acquitions to the OWN club.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/2010/11/15/own_picks_up_three_docs_for_spring_debut#

Three of the acquisitions are One Lucky Elephant, 65_RedRoses and Most Valuable Players.


S.Tavaris Belle
Sat 20 Nov 2010Link

I cant remember where I got the information from on the website but a post was made about documentary researchers with there name and contact information. Could somebody help me find it again? I tried using the research tool but couldnt find it


Nadia Hennrich
Tue 30 Nov 2010Link Tag

In reply to Bill Jackson's post on Mon 23 Aug 2010 :

Hi there Bill, I haven't figured out how to post a new thread here, so i am replying to you hoping someone will see this post: fact is I know there are some sound studios specialising on inexpensive sound mix for docs in LA, would you know any places? sorry to bug & thx

Edited Tue 30 Nov 2010 by Nadia Hennrich

Christopher Wong
Tue 30 Nov 2010Link Tag

for my sound mix, i used a really great guy who has a nice little studio in downtown LA. his name is Nathan Smith and he runs a company called NL3 Audio. very inexpensive rates, and he is absolutely obsessive-compulsive about good, clean sound. we had some troublesome air conditioning and street noises in various scenes, and Nathan did a great job with it. tell him i referred you! you can check out his work at www.nl3audio.com


Derek A. Reuter
Thu 2 Dec 2010Link

Hello, my name is Derek and althought I have commissioned documentaries and non-fiction film work before. I am now taking a step to be D.I.Y. and do one myself for a bit of a change of pace and discovery.

I would deeply appreciate any help and advice experienced people like yourselves can offer someone as crazy and adventurous as me. I do enjoy diving head first into a new medium that I have no previous formal training. If anything this allows me to innovate, but none-the-less there are plenty of mistakes I could make that could greatly hinder the products production/budget/success etc and nothing is more important than the product itself and its purpose.

My first question has to do with affordable resources and crew suppliments.
I am mapping out the film schedule, travel arrangements, and appointments with talent and talking heads. Already there is multiple conflicts with traveling with my current DP. So understanding that I can't always drag him with me to every opportunity to film or meet with an individual.

So is there a network out there where I can cherry pick videographers, sound engineers, etc that are affordable or willing to do in-kind work from various parts of the country?

My next question has to do with fiscal agents. I am currently investigating and informing my associates about CID (Center for Independent Documentaries) and am in love with what I have found. Especially as someone who is normally playing the role of being the Fiscal Agent/nonprofit resouce. But these relationships can be competative and there is no guarentee that the board and staff will feel inspired to work with us on our topic/film. Are their other non-fiction film organizations that have a good track record and are experienced at being a fiscal agent? Certainly a documentary based FA would have much greater advice and resources to guide or film to reach the market and viewers.

Last but not least. Considering we still have a few months before filming starts. I have yet to invest budget monies towards the bulk of video and sound equipment needed. Our documentary will be taping multiple live performances/jam out sessions, talking head interviews, stills, and moving shots.

Rigs and all aside. We are currently looking at a Canon EOS Mark ii for filming and stills, can anyone recommend a sound setup that can pair with this camera that will caption quality sound? Or better yet, recommend a video/audio pair that you have found most effective in capturing the essense of asceticism in video and sensation of good sound at a comparable price.

I would appreciate any and all advice on these questions and am always willing to be of service should you have any questions for areas I am experienced in. Agreed these are more questions for the member area but I have no creditals thus far in the genre so membership is doubtful.

Maybe in trade of consulting I can help in your films with an environmental, activist, natural resource management, policy, elections, music festivals, community organizing, nonprofit themes.

Always open and always willing,

Derek A. Reuter


John Burgan
Thu 2 Dec 2010Link

Derek – when your schedule has firmed up, feel free to post your crew requests here in Public Classifieds .

Additionally you can search by location/job at http://www.mandy.com/1/filmtvservices.cfm

Hopefully in this manner you'll find some competent and affordable collaborators. Not quite sure what "in-kind work" you're offering, though.

Edited Thu 2 Dec 2010 by John Burgan

Derek A. Reuter
Thu 2 Dec 2010Link

Thank's john, logging the links now.

I often do things for an altruistic purpose and try to cut costs everywhere I can so that the objective and community benefits are achieved or not compremised. Volunteering professional services on a chartiable or education project is in-kind time. If possible maybe some of these videographers would be willing to help for a day for recognition on the credit rolls, webiste, etc instead of wanting a chunk of the funding. By having a nonprofit umbrella the project and leverage their designation it allows for any person to get a tax write-off (in some cases monies paid later by foundation/invoices not project budget) for the hours, materials, supplies, services supplied towards the project.


Derek A. Reuter
Thu 2 Dec 2010Link

As for "in-kind" work I am offering. Simply ask, each situation I have encountered in regards for help has always been different. If I am unable to help myself I may have a list of resources to direct you to.


Linda Wasson
Fri 3 Dec 2010Link

I'm confused about the various "no student films" or "no student funding" or "film must not have been made while a student" etc. ad nauseum....

what's this about exactly? and does the fact that I'm a student and making a film, even outside of class, automatically target me as someone not eligible for funding??

it's sooo frustrating and just a bit unnerving... the current film I'm seeking finishing funds for and other guidance – it's grown outside of my original class project and truly taken on a life of its own. I'm happy of course and no longer see it as a student film (again, am not sure what that is even supposed to mean!).

can someone help explain this to me please??


Jo-Anne Velin
Fri 3 Dec 2010Link

As far as I know, student films are classified as this because they are made with film school resources. If this disqualifies you for certain finishing funds, maybe the school can point you to an alternative. Take this up in the NAmerica funding topic?


Linda Wasson
Fri 3 Dec 2010Link

Jo-Anne, thanks but I'm still not clear what exactly constitutes a "student film."

also it raises a new question – what you said about school resources – why would that make any difference?

and no, my school knows no more resources than anyone else.


Linda Wasson
Fri 3 Dec 2010Link

*this is posted here because the term "student film" is used in a number of designations not just for funding, i.e., film festivals, etc. sometimes there's even a separate category.

maybe every instance "student film" has its own definition??? it's so exasperating....!


Ramona Diaz
Fri 3 Dec 2010Link

Hi Linda, it's really not that complicated. A student film is a film for which you received credit toward a degree using the school's resources – be it their equipment or their editing facilities, etc.


Linda Wasson
Sat 4 Dec 2010Link

so why the discrimination? who cares whose facilities are used? what's the dif?

and what about a film (such as the one I'm in the midst of now) where it started as a class project but outgrew it and now I'm finishing it separate from class?

some situations have also used the designation "no students" rather than "student film" which makes me feel like my work is somehow automatically disqualified just because I'm a film student.


Derek A. Reuter
Mon 6 Dec 2010Link

Hello members, anyone have any suggestions as Gaffers, DPs, or Directors what lighting/camera combination has worked best for you?


Sahand Sahebdivani
Mon 6 Dec 2010Link

Hi Derek,

It somewhat depends on what type of shots you're making. Talking heads inside will obviously need a different appreach than outside shots. You're also constrained by your budget. Care to tell a bit more what kind of project you're embarking on?


Derek A. Reuter
Mon 6 Dec 2010Link

Filming subject is upon American Folk Music from the region and its events. From Old Time to modern emerging genres.

Most interview shots would be scheduled in home, office visits, classooms, archive areas, and outdoors. The other shots will mostly be from outdoor summer events, darkly lit venues, front porches, barns, and in home band jams. At times we will take shots of nature, buildings, homes, and scenes of natural discourse and activities of the human talent and scholars. Of course always expect random opportunities.

Budget most likely won't allow for multiple cameras and light setups but has yet to be invested on equipment so currently very flexible for any recommendations.


Derek A. Reuter
Tue 7 Dec 2010Link

At the very least I want to be able to do a light triangle w/background light that gives a good rim on the subject and would be a bit too much during the night. Any suggestions on a package or combination that would work well and is travel friendly?


James Longley
Tue 7 Dec 2010Link

Derek – here's a pro bono promotional video I made for a school in Pakistan using a Canon 7D and a monopod. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a laptop – it was almost free to make it, apart from a few days of my time. I'm not sure that's exactly the style you're going for, but it's cheap and fast and fairly easy.

http://www.vimeo.com/12450414


Jessamy Meyer
Thu 16 Dec 2010Link

Hi,
I am starting to edit a trailer together for a doc project in the beginning stages of editing. I need to get the trailer to show and help with some financing. The doc is very archival heavy and has a main character with a lot of published philosophies on various topics of interest to the film. So, the director and I are playing with the idea of including text in the trailer so I'm looking for some advice on maybe good examples of films that use text in a way that is informative and also stylistic interesting and significant. Beyond examples, any experiences with using text/quotes in films? Thanks in advance for any feedback!


Daniel McGuire
Thu 16 Dec 2010Link

In reply to James Longley's post on Tue 7 Dec 2010 :

Wow, what a beautiful piece, James.


Kristen Kellogg
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

Hi everyone. I am just breaking into the world of film making, and I have a great idea on a unique story in Bali and how a couple that moved there is changing the way we eat throughout the world. There is much more here, but that is the gist. They have responded to my interest and want to know my proposed plan. I have never made a film before, and want to find someone to work with me on this project who is a cinematographer. Also I need to get back to them and let them know my ideas this week. Any suggestions how to approach this? Thanks, Kristen


Bill Jackson
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Nadia Hennrich's post on Mon 29 Nov 2010 :
Hi, Nadia. Sorry I didn't get right back to you. I have been on a couple of projects that have consumed all of my time, and I haven't been on D-Word for several weeks.

If you still haven't mixed yet, get in touch with me. My schedule opens up after tomorrow.


Daniel McGuire
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :

Well, I just got back from shooting in Bali 2 weeks ago, and currently live about an hour from you, so perhaps we should talk. dan at gmail dot com


Kristen Kellogg
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Daniel McGuire's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :

Hi Dan. I am currently in Australia, but do you have skype? Maybe we could have a chat on there? Or shoot me an email kellogg.kristen (at) gmail.com Would love to hear about what you just wrapped up as well.


Kristen Kellogg
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

Can anyone recommend any great websites (other than this one) where I can get help on how to make my first documentary?


John Burgan
Mon 20 Dec 2010Link

Not sure a website or a book can replace the experience you will gain by launching in and actually making a short doc exercise – ideally something in your own back yard – walk before you run. I presume you have access to a basic DV camera and edit software? How about a 2-minute portrait of "someone at work" – that's always a classic subject. Try to interpret it in visual terms, rather than relying on interview/talking heads.

Also search for "documentary filmmaking" on amazon.com – check out Andy Glynne's Documentaries and How to Make Them and Michael Rabiger's much more comprehensive Directing the Documentary


Timoty Gibbs
Tue 21 Dec 2010Link

Can anyone talk about educational distribution? Who are the game players? Can it be lucrative? Is it a difficult market to crack?


Justine Jacob
Wed 22 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :

Documentors started about a year ago and have a lot of resources on their page. I loved their film, Shakespeare behind bars and they are really nice folks in general. They do charge for most things, but looks like you can do a subscription as well.

http://www.documentaryhowto.com/


Christopher Wong
Wed 22 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Kristen Kellogg's post on Mon 20 Dec 2010 :

If you need to come up with a proposal quick, watch as many documentaries as you can. Make sure you have a good mix of different genres, old and new. Then, figure out what you want to borrow from each, and start conceiving the proposal from there. A quick list of varied docs might be:
SALESMAN (Maysles Brothers)
GRIZZLY MAN (Werner Herzog)
HARLAN COUNTY USA (Barbara Kopple)
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (James Longley)
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE (Hubert Sauper)
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (Michael Moore)

this list could go on forever... but other than making docs, watching docs is the best way to learn.


Kristen Kellogg
Wed 22 Dec 2010Link

John-Thanks for the book recommendations. I read Documentaries and How to Make Them by Andy Glynne today. A lot of clarification and great insight.

Christopher-I have been watching a variety of films the last few days and it's been a tremendous help.

Justine-many thanks for the site! So many helpful hints!

Thanks everyone for helping me take the necessary steps to making my vision become a reality.


Jaggy Singh
Wed 22 Dec 2010Link

hey...

sorry for the loud introduction.

hope everyone is well.

I am currently in my final year at university, over here in the UK.
I am studying Film production and Technology, and am working on a dissertation, which is based on, the technology used for cinema release documentaries.

I have started the research, and have noticed, i am getting much more information to do with the theory, artistic and issues and debates in documentary, more than the technology side of documentary film making.

I was wondering if anyone could assist me with any articles, books or websites I could look at which focus on the technology side of film making for documentaries in cinema.

Also, I'm amazed at how there are so many different people on this website. wow! this is like a small community within it self.

Also, are there any camera men, sound recorders and editors and cinematographers, which i could maybe interview through email, just so i can get an insight of those who work in the industry, with first hand experience, that would be so great.

if anyone can help, that would be great.

Thank you for your time.

Take care


Jaime Cruz
Thu 23 Dec 2010Link

Hi Jaggy

Perhaps your interest for this topic is only about docs production in the "first world". Anyway, you will find a very broad range of technologies used in docs, from the oldies (but goodies) dvx 100´s to the DSLR´S. So maybe your question should be more in the perspective of "how and why" the diverse options of cameras, sound gear, etc., are being used by documentaries filmakers. Well, is just a suggestion.
Saludos


Jaggy Singh
Thu 23 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Jaime Cruz's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :

Hey Jaime,

Thank you for writing back man, appreciate that! yh I am looking into those camera's at the moment. I am analysing the technologies through time, in reference to films. from the 20's to the 60's and to the 21st century. so I am looking at films such as, man with a movie camera, gimme shelter and touching the void. I want to look at why 35mm were used, why did people stop using them, then 16mm came in to action and now the 35mm is getting back in documentaries. I know the general idea, but i want to get in to more detail. also what the future may look like for documentaries. i wish i could change the title, I really do...but I am stuck with it now, so I just have to get on with it and learn to love it.

cheers Jaime!


Bill Kerrigan
Thu 23 Dec 2010Link

Jaggy... because of my age, I might be able to help.
When I started... feature docs were shot on 35mm.
I filmed some pickup shots for 'Janis' and 'The Man Who Skied Down Everest'.

If you wish, you can write me off forum.


Jaggy Singh
Thu 23 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Bill Kerrigan's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :

hey Bill, hope your well.

That's great.Seriously, I would love to hear from you, and your work. Thank you for replying back to my post, really do appreciate it Bill.

Is it possible I could maybe get your email add, so we can talk about this?

Thank You


John Burgan
Fri 24 Dec 2010Link

You'll find the email address of any D-Word member if you click on their name or photo.


Doug Block
Fri 24 Dec 2010Link

Actually, not sure Enthusiasts can.


John Burgan
Fri 24 Dec 2010Link

Whoops. Too much sherry with the mince pies.


Bill Kerrigan
Fri 24 Dec 2010Link

In reply to Jaggy Singh's post on Thu 23 Dec 2010 :

Jaggy, please email me here:
kerrigan at mac.com


Jaggy Singh
Sat 25 Dec 2010Link

hey, thanks for the help lads.

thats great Bill, ill email you now.

Merry Christmas everyone


Christina Antonakos-Wallace
Sun 2 Jan 2011Link

Hi there,

I recently completed a 20 minute version of the feature-length film I am directing (www.withwingsandroots.com) which is targeted for educational use. The film comparatively explores the immigration debate in the U.S. and Europe through the stories of children of immigrants in Berlin and New York. The film was shot half in Germany, and a very big German educational distributor is interested. They have given us a generic contract to look over, but I have no idea of the terms are decent or terrible, plus it is in German! Basically, they seem to be offering us no money upfront, but 50% of all profit from sales. They would get exclusive access to all German-speaking countries and Goethe Institutes for three years. I know that I need to find a German entertainment lawyer to speak with before signing anything, but it would be great if anyone could share any of the terms they have gotten in educational distribution contracts, or even send a sample contract.
Thank you so much for your help!!!


Doug Block
Sun 2 Jan 2011Link

Christina, you're a member so you shouldn't post this in The Mentoring Room. Especially since it's a public topic and therefore open to Google searches and the like. This belongs in the Marketing and Distribution topic.


Nicola Lees
Mon 3 Jan 2011Link

Christina – you could try contacting Christoph Fey – he's a a German entertainment lawyer based in Berlin and has been very helpful in the past.He works for a company Unverzagt Von Have and his contact details are easily Googled.


Jeff Girard
Sat 15 Jan 2011Link

Hello,

Advice sought: Least expensive PC for video editing programs

I am seeking help finding the least expensive PC laptop capable of running Pinnacle Studio video editing programs. I’m on the low income side (especially after becoming unemployed) so I am working with modest equipment.

Because I am couch surfing, I need to stick with a laptop, not a PC.

I’ve tried several other editing programs such as Vegas, Adobe, etc., and I’ve tried iMovie on the Mac. Pinnacle works best for me. My current laptop, a Dell I bought in 2009, cannot handle my HD video editing. I am using a Kodak Zi8 camera.

The system requirements are at: http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSite/us/Products/Consumer+Products/Home+Video/Studio+Family/

There are three main versions and all 3 appear to have different requirements:
Studio HD
Studio Ultimate
Studio Ultimate Collection

The graphics card requirement is the same for all of three.

I’m a lean quick on my own how to use document, photo, and video editing programs for creative purposes. I am however clueless about the tech stuff.

I am getting unemployment checks and money is tight. However, I believe in myself enough to take a gamble and spend up to $1,000 on a laptop.

I need help though because I'm not good at the tech stuff and don't want to get ripped off at the stores. So far, Best Buy, Fry’s and my computer savvy friends have all recommended different machines. I’m hoping that at some point I’ll hear the same recommendation a few times.

At least at Best Buy and Wal-Mart there are no re-stocking fees.

Thanks! I appreciate your time and help,

-Jeff

System Requirements for Studio Ultimate Collection

* Windows ® 7, Windows Vista ® (SP2),Windows XP (SP3)
* Intel ® Pentium ® or AMD Athlon ™ 1.8 GHz (2.4 GHz or higher recommended)
– Intel Core ™ 2 Duo 2.4 GHz required for AVCHD*
– Intel Core ™ 2 Quad 2.66 GHz or Intel Core ™ i7 required
for AVCHD* 1920
* 1 GB system memory recommended, 2 GB required for AVCHD*
* DirectX ® 9 or 10 compatible graphics card with 64 MB (128 MB or higher recommended) – 128 MB required for Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks Plug-in: Pixelshader 2 required, Intel GMA integrated graphics not supported. – 256 MB required for HD and AVCHD*
* DirectX 9 or higher compatible sound card
* 3,6 GB of disk space
* DVD-ROM drive to install software
* Accessory:
o CD burner for creating Video CDs or Super Video CDs (S-VCDs)
o DVD burner for creating DVD and AVCHD* discs
o Blu-ray burner for creating Blu-ray discs*
o Sound card with surround sound output required for preview of surround sound mixes*

Input Options

* Capture from DV, HDV and Digital8 camcorders or VCRs (requires a FireWire ® ; port)Capture from analog camcorders, 8 mm, HI 8, VHS, SVHS, VHS-C, SVHS-C, or VCRs (NTSC/PAL/SECAM). (requires Pinnacle or Dazzle video hardware)
* Import from AVCHD* and other file based Camcorders, Digital Still Cameras, Mobile Devices and Webcams via USB

Output Options

* Output to DV, HDV or Digital8 tape (requires camcorder with FireWire Input port and a PC with a DV/FireWire port)
* Output to analog videotape (requires DirectShow compatible device with video output)

Import Formats

* Video: AVCHD*, BD Blu-ray*, DV, HDV, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX ® , MPEG-4, 3GP(MPEG-4), WMV, Non-encrypted DVD titles (incl. DVD-VR/+VR), QuickTime ® ; (DV, MPEG-4, H.264*)
* Audio: MP3, MPA, WAV, AC3*, WMA
* Graphic: BMP, GIF, JPG, PCX, PSD, TGA, TIF, WMF, PNG, J2K

Export Formats

* AVCHD*, BD Blu-ray*, HD-DVD, DVD (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R or DVD+RW, dual layer), S-VCD, Video CD (VCD)
* Apple ® iPod ® , Sony ® ; PSP/PS3, Nintendo ® Wii, Microsoft ® Xbox compatible formats*
* DV, HDV, AVI, DivX*, RealVideo ® 8, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4*, Flash, 3GP*, WAV, MP3*, QuickTime ® (SD format) files
* Dolby ® Digital 2 channel and 5.1 channel audio*


Jeff Girard
Sat 15 Jan 2011Link

Hello,

Advice sought: Microphones for Kodak Zi8 camera & the iTouch.

Also, any recommendations for clip on mics, attached mics, or wireless mics to enable the recording of at least 3 people for the Kodak Zi8 camera & the iTouch?

Thanks,

-Jeff


Linda Wasson
Sun 16 Jan 2011Link

In reply to Jeff Girard's post on Sat 15 Jan 2011 :

the oldest and still the best place on the web for all things computer-related is www.pricewatch.com

originally in DOS, pricewatch used to list real-time prices with discounts as they appeared online. nowdays it provides links to both retail and online computer supply stores.

ok, that's one option. #2 is my own personal suggestion: you want a laptop and new ones are like new cars: the moment you bring it home the price decreases about 50% – because they are all overpriced. what to do? a couple of options – you can build your own – since you aren't working and have some time, this is a real option and w/price watch and Fry's nearby...

another option: go for the refurbished model. there are SO many out there – I bought a Samsung notebook in 2003 that was about 2 years old; new it was priced around $5000 because that's what they cost back then. I paid about $250 for it and it was loaded with goodies. I was happy if it would last 6 months – guess what – I still have it and it still boots up just fine. Over time tho, memory allocations increased and I can't upgrade for a reasonable price so it's not really practical to use anymore; I just don't want it to wind up in a landfill somewhere or I'd chunk it.

which is another good reason to buy refurbished – there's simply nothing wrong with recycling a computer – many are still worth keeping around. Just check and double-check your hardware requirements, ask about warranties and you're good to go. the cheapest models come with no operating system which if you already have one, you can just use that.

if you can register for a class somewhere, you can qualify for academic pricing on software which will also save you $$

good luck and hang in there.


Jack Hunter Cohen
Tue 18 Jan 2011Link

I'm looking for a Line Producer for a feature doc. Where do I go? The film is on Women and Men and their relationships and will be structured around interviews shot overseas and in the states in several locations. Is there an appropriate forum here to put it out there?


Eli Brown
Wed 19 Jan 2011Link

Members Classifieds is a good place to start. You could also put it on the public classifieds – and there are a lot of media-centric job sites (mandy.com, mediabistro.com, craigslist, even) if you're just doing a random sort of cattle-call for resumés...


Doug Block
Wed 19 Jan 2011Link

Just remember, Jack, that the public classifieds is open to Google searches. So be careful about what information you're giving out.


Ashley Hillis
Wed 19 Jan 2011Link

Hello,

This is my first posting so I hope I do this correctly :)

Advice sought: Recommendation of films to watch for reference

I'm hoping someone might be able to recommend a documentary that successfully tells a character driven story while also exploring this individual's culture and highlights other characters from his/her world. I'm not looking for a traditional biographical piece (I understand my description might come across sounding that way). This is a silly example, but it might help in understanding the type of film I'm looking for... (I just made this up so it might be totally ridiculous, but hopefully it will serve as a helpful illustration.)

Example:
A once celebrated under water basket weaver is looking to make a comeback. She decides to build a store in which she will sell her baskets and through the process of building the shop, she will face some of the demons from her past.

In order for the film to be accessible to the everyday viewer, the film must put the story in context – tell a bit about the history of under water basket weaving and why it is significant to some. We should also learn about others in the field so that we are able to see what makes this particular weaver different (or maybe the same) as others out there.

Does this make sense? Can anyone point me in the direction of a film that follows a similar path?

Thank you so much for your help!
Ashley


Doug Block
Wed 19 Jan 2011Link

Ashley, first of all, welcome to The D-Word. And bravo for leaping right in with a post. You did it fine, except that the Mentoring Room is mainly for those we call Enthusiasts and the professional members rarely hang out here.

We don't encourage double-posting but in this case we'll make an exception. You should post this again in the Documentary Film topic and you'll probably get a good deal more feedback.

Also want to encourage you to tell us a bit more about yourself in the Introduce Yourself topic.


Ashley Hillis
Fri 28 Jan 2011Link

Hi Doug,
Thank you so much for responding. I will make my way over to the Documentary Film area and see about posting there.
Thank you for your help.
Ashley


Martin Carel
Sun 30 Jan 2011Link

We're about to go into the editing phase for our indie documentary. For the post-workflow process (using a Mac Book Pro 2.4GHz 4GB), we're about to transcode the (Canon t2i) H264 files into APR422 files using MPEG Streamclip. This seemed to be the best practice at the beginning of year 2010.

2 questions:

  • is it still the best practice today?
  • while editing in FCP, is it realistic to source the video files from an external FireWire800 HD? I was hosting my video files on an external USB 2.0 HD on a previous project, and it's just too slow. So I'm wondering if FireWire800 would do it or if I need to have the video files on my local MBP drive.

Thanks in advance,

Martin
http://winobrothers.com


Laura Moire Paglin
Sun 30 Jan 2011Link

Martin – I'm not the tech geek that some of the filmmakers are (so perhaps other will have something to add)- but there are some other options besides MPEG stream clip. EOS Plugin allows you to use FCP 'log and capture settings' to transcode files.This is supposed to be faster and also allows you to imbed timecode onto your footage. Some have had problems with it however. Magic Bullet Grinder allows you to simultaneously create both ProRes Proxy files and higher ProrRes files simultaneously and creates timecode. Oh but I just noticed that you're transcoding to something called APR422. I've never heard of that. Just about everyone I've talked to uses Prores. Yes FireWire800 should be fine. FYI – you need FCP 7 to convert to Prores Proxy (which takes up a lot less space). I think the timecode option offered by EOS plugin and Grinder is a huge advantage over MPEG streamclip.

Edited Sun 30 Jan 2011 by Laura Moire Paglin

Errol Webber
Sun 30 Jan 2011Link

Laura, APR422 = "Apple ProRes 422"


Laura Moire Paglin
Sun 30 Jan 2011Link

Oh! Well that's good – I'm glad to know it's not some new codec.


Randy Lee
Mon 31 Jan 2011Link

I think the MPEG streamclip option works fine, especially if you then copy your THM files into the folder that the new files are in and use the free version of QTChange (search for QTChange 0.7) to add timecode and reel numbers. The EOS plugin has me plenty of issues, and I'm not the only one who has run into them – I've spent plenty of time with other filmmakers in the Madison area trying to solve their issues with it.

You're definitely better off keeping your footage on an external FW800 drive (make sure the drive is 7200rpm not 5400) than on the internal. Also, backup, backup, backup. When that drive fails, what do you do?


Linda Wasson
Mon 31 Jan 2011Link

Martin,

first q – you should always be editing off a firewire drive for many reasons, much of what has to do w/how FCP operates. also it doesn't have to be a 5400; I have 2 of those and 1 7200 drive; they all work pretty much the same. However, if you are editing HD, then you will probably see a difference w/the 7200 but your processing speed will likely be the limit rather than the external.

you can actually run into some problems with a USB drive so please do stay away from those when running FCP.

your backup files should be on your hard drive; it's called the Autosave vault and you should find it in your documents dir which is the default when you loaded FCP unless you changed it. you can set it in your system preferences in FCP.

next q about transcoding files – didn't really understand what you were referring to until someone mentioned App Prores 422; I export all my files in this codec even if I've imported into FC as another such as H.264. just import the files and change it in your settings; you can also click on the timeline, then go to your settings for your sequence (go to Sequence, settings, you have to be in the timeline or it will be grayed out) and set your codec there for prores or whatever.

fyi, if you join D-word as a member you can post over in the FCP section as well as editing.


Linda Wasson
Mon 31 Jan 2011Link

In reply to Randy Lee's post on Mon 31 Jan 2011 :

your backup is in Autosave vault which is on your hard drive; you set it in your FCP preferences so yes, you do have a b/u on a different drive.


Errol Webber
Tue 1 Feb 2011Link

Your opinion guys. I know some production people in the film industry may not take well to unsolicited contact about video work, but if you were to stumble upon a production company of which you like their work and would like to shoot for them on their upcoming projects, what is a good way (notice I said "good" way, because there's probably no "best" way) to approach them so they aren't initially turned off by your unsolicited contact? A phone call first? An email first? Both consecutively? A phone call to set up a meeting (if they are in the same city/state?) I have an approach I've used for years, which works out fine most times, but I want to know your opinions.

Ever since I started doing video in '03, I've worked mainly from referrals, so my former clients usually do the trumpet-blowing for me when it came to future projects with other directors/producers. But every once in a while I will find a project that I'm interested in and would like to work on, and I sometimes scratch my head, thinking of how to approach this particular person/production company.

What are your thoughts? If you ran a decent-sized production company that's been around for years or was a producer of a newly conceived film, how would YOU prefer potential shooters contacting you? Would you even mind them contacting you? And if you WOULD mind, what was the turn-off?


Randy Lee
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Do you know of anywhere that someone involved hangs out? Or a group that they're a member of? I'm a member of MCA-I here in Madison, WI, and have been able to get a foot in the door on several great projects by keeping in contact with people that I've met through the meetings.

Otherwise I can't see an email with a phone call follow-up hurting – have a reel or website ready, of course, but it can't hurt. Some places don't want outside involvement, or don't keep track of good people until it's time to hire, but some do, and are happy to keep your card in the rolodex – I'd say at least try contacting someone there. Research the place a little first, see if there's a particular person who you should ask for, and take it from there. I know that at the company that I work for, if someone calls when we don't have a call out for resumes, they'll be sent to some middle-management guy who's goal is to send you on your way as quickly as possible. If you know the name of our DP, though, or an editor, and ask for one of them, you're in in no time.


Errol Webber
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Thank you, Randy. Some good information, especially that note at the end about how big production companies think.


Doug Block
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Errol, it's hard to imagine someone being turned off by an email genuinely expressing appreciation for my company and wanting to become a part of it. They may not respond enthusiastically (and that's their loss), but why would they be upset?


Neil Orman
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Can anyone advise me on the simplest way to light interview subjects, as a one man band? Next week I'm doing a shoot in a house with lots of windows and pretty good light. Whenever possible, I hope to take advantage of natural light. But I just want to be prepared should I need to throw some light on a subject. In the past I've used kinoflos and lit people with the people of a PA, but this time I need to keep it to just me. And I don't want to be messing with c-stands, sandbags and the like. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.


Ron Osgood
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Neil – try to use the natural light as your main source and add a reflector to the opposite side. Or use a soft box, umbrella or diffused light as your key and the window as your fill. Don't forget to use CTB to match to daylight. Of course figuring out how to add a back light is important.


Neil Orman
Wed 2 Feb 2011Link

Much appreciated, Ron.


Avery Morgan
Fri 4 Feb 2011Link

I am making a short (10 minute) historical documentary. I have all of the important information, but so far the documentary is a little boring. Any advice on how to make it a little more interesting while still professional?


Laura Moire Paglin
Fri 4 Feb 2011Link

I'd have to know a little more about what it's about. But the key with any documentary is to remember that you are still telling a story. The story is more important than imparting facts and information.Think about Ken Burn's documentaries. Also figure out why you're using a visual medium to tell the story. What can you communicate in a visual way? Watch lots of historical documentaries. Try to figure out what makes you like them and figure out how you can apply that to your project.

Edited Fri 4 Feb 2011 by Laura Moire Paglin

Avery Morgan
Sat 5 Feb 2011Link

Thank you very much for your help. I will try to keep that in mind and will follow your advice before I start filming and putting together information. Also, the documentary is on Susan B. Anthony and her work as a suffragist for Women's Rights if that helps.


Dean Lenoir
Tue 8 Feb 2011Link

Hey, can anyone provide some general advice on which of the following cameras would be better to use:

Canon XH A1
or
Canon EOS 7D

Someone is letting me borrow the XH A1 for a couple of months to shoot a documentary I'm working on, but I can also get access to a Canon 7D through school. I also have access to professional lighting and audio equipment through school, compatible with both cameras, so I don't see that as much of a factor (although I am new to filmmaker, so maybe it is).

The lens that I have for the 7D are the following:
Nikon DX Af-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.89
Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens

In terms of image quality, which do you all think is best? Also, do you think that I could use both, or would there be a noticeable difference between the two?

I am really new to film-making, so any advice here would help!


Nigel Walker
Tue 8 Feb 2011Link

If you are really new to filmmaking I would strongly recommend the XH A1. The DSLR's have a variety of issues that have been well documented and although there are work arounds for many of them I would focus all your energy into making a film not dealing with the equipment.


Dean Lenoir
Tue 8 Feb 2011Link

Great point Nigel, indeed I think I will go with the XH A1. Thanks for the advice :)


Errol Webber
Tue 8 Feb 2011Link

Dean, I would get neither. The XH A1 only shoots HDV, which is QUICKLY becoming less favorable. I would recommend getting a Sony EX1R if you're a beginning filmmaker. It shoots XDCAM which isn't disappearing for a while, shoots at a significantly higher bit rate and gets a truer white balance in MY opinion.

Video shot on a Canon XH A1 Video Camera tends to have this greenish brown tinge to it even when you supposedly have correct white balance. There is a technical reason for this, but I won't go into that detail. Also, with the Sony EX3, you have more handling options thanks to its ergonomic hand-grip.

But yeah, if the ONLY options were XH A1 or 7D, I'd choose the XH A1 for the same reason Nigel said.


Randy Lee
Wed 9 Feb 2011Link

I would definitely make use of the 7D while you've got it available though, too. It's a great tool when used properly, and there are enough people using it that avoiding using it is a bad idea, because you never know when it'll pop up as what you need to use. But as far as focusing on telling a story and learning video gear go, definitely the XH A1.


Angela Snow
Mon 14 Feb 2011Link

I've been approached by a distribution company in Europe regarding my first documentary film.

I've never gotten to this stage before and am looking for advice on international distribution. I would really appreciate any and all information, from basic to specific.

My main specific questions are
-Is it normal / OK to give exclusive distro rights for all of Europe or internationally to one company? Do you often pick distributors based on countries and break it up that way?
-What are some questions that I can ask them to discover what level of a distributor they are? WHAT SHOULD I KNOW? How can I make sure they have the contacts / experience / can get my film out there...
-What % is normal for a distributor to take as a commission of sales and pre-sales?


Doug Block
Mon 14 Feb 2011Link

Angela, first of all, congrats for getting your first film made, and for doing it well enough for there to be interest from a distributor.

For U.S. filmmakers, it's pretty typical to have a distributor (and sometimes even a sales agent, if there's theatrical potential) for domestic distribution and another company handling sales for international distribution (especially, broadcast). Since most of your international sales will be to broadcasters, you don't need a distributor in each country. You just need one sales agent who can approach all the broadcasters at markets like the EFM in Berlin and MIP in Cannes.

The best ways to tell if this company is legit are to check out the films they have in their catalogue, check out their website to see how well they promote the films online and contact the producers of some of their films and see what their experience has been like. Did the company work hard for them and make sales? Have they been reliable in their reports and payments? Were they easy to communicate and collaborate with? Stuff like that.

I've found it pretty typical for an international sales agent (or distributor acting as one) to charge a 30 to 35% fee for their sales. I think it's generally less for pre-sales (25%?), but I'm not sure how common it is anymore for them to actively look for pre-sales.


Angela Snow
Mon 14 Feb 2011Link

Doug,
Thanks so much, that's the best feedback I've gotten thus far in my quest. So, it is normal to contact past producers that worked with them? I've gotten this advice before. Most are European films that I'm having trouble hunting down contact details for, would I / could I ask the company for referrals?

This company is pretty small, so trying to determine if that can be a good / ok thing.

THANKS!


Laura Moire Paglin
Tue 15 Feb 2011Link

Angela – It's absolutely acceptable and normal. And if the company is reluctant – that ought to be a red flag.


Doug Block
Tue 15 Feb 2011Link

I agree with Laura, and they'll steer you to the producers who they know are happiest. You might want to use your internet detective skills to track down other producers they don't list.

In the meantime, you should register for professional membership here, which will give you access to all 50 of our discussion topics.


Daniel McGuire
Tue 15 Feb 2011Link

And don't forget the overhead clause...<http://vimeo.com/14071168>


Mark Barroso
Tue 15 Feb 2011Link

that's some funny stuff


Jo-Anne Velin
Tue 15 Feb 2011Link

In reply to Angela Snow's post on Mon 14 Feb 2011 :

... where you can list a couple of titles, and we in Europe may know the people who made the films.


Angela Snow
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

In reply to Daniel McGuire's post on Tue 15 Feb 2011 :
HAHA. Amazing. Could always be worse.

Thanks all.


karen donald
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Dear Doug

How are you? I am a first time film maker and live in Bali.

Tracks Magazine in Australia are interested in providing the finishing funds for my documentary about an Indonesian surfer. However, they want to produce a DVD for the front of their magazine but I want to broadcast the project and I would like to find a broadcaster with your help at the D-Word.

This way I will reach beyond the surfing audience which has always been my vision. Please post advice soon.

Best wishes
Karen


John Burgan
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Welcome to The D-Word, Karen. It's quite a challenge to find a broadcaster, particularly as a beginner and another thing again to produce a piece for a specialist magazine. Have you already shot some material and do you have a trailer online?

Edited Wed 16 Feb 2011 by John Burgan

karen donald
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Hi, yes they have seen the 12 minute trailer and then offered finishing funds. They are media partners with the sponsor.


karen donald
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

We already have 1/3 footage. The rest to be shot in Oz and maybe a return to Sumbawa. There's vintage stock footage to add that requires conversion from 16mm


Daniel McGuire
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

I'll chime in – I've seen some of Karen's piece.
It's a portrait of an Indonesian surfer from a tiny, remote village who has made it to the big time of the surf world.
There are so many unknowns here – The key one as far as I can see is exclusivity – does the magazine want some ownership of your film in exchange for the finishing funds? If all they want is to put your film on a DVD with your magazine, but you have all broadcast sales rights, that might be a good deal for you. But you might not be able to get your film in certain festivals if it has already been distributed on DVD. I am not certain that magazine/dvd distribution will hurt broadcast sales, which would be aimed at a general audience. Perhaps you could negotiate with the magazine that you are given a window (before dvd distribution) where you could enter the film in festivals.
DAN


Daniel McGuire
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

You should also research your market and find other films in the genre and talk to their producers – how many surf films get TV sales? How much do they sell for? Are your hopes and expectations realistic, and based on an understanding of the market for this genre of film?


Doug Block
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Karen, seems like you're getting good advice from others. So I'll mostly just welcome you to The D-Word and let you know we've upgraded you to Professional status, as befitting how far along you've taken your film.

This is an interesting discussion and now belongs in the Funding (Europe, Elsewhere) topic, where more people will see it and weigh in. We don't encourage double posting, but in this case feel free to post again there.


Neil Orman
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Hey, I had three quick questions related to a short doc I just did, related to sound editing, classical music licensing and posting this on the Web. Any advice on any of these would be greatly appreciated!
-Sound editing: I have a short problematic portion with a low electromagnetic hum related to, I think, someone's cell phone being turned on. It's not loud but it's noticeable, and occurs for maybe 5-7 seconds of a 30 second interview portion I'd really like to use. Is there any way to remove/minimize something like that in either Pro Tools or preferably Final Cut, because I'd prefer to handle this myself and I don't have Pro Tools?
-Classical music licensing: I want to use a 30 second portion of Vivaldi's 4 Seasons, and this piece is for someone to post on their Web site to promote their business. Is it necessary to pay to license the music for something like this, which won't be widely seen, and if so any recommendations on good Web sites or sources?
-Web streaming: I want to deliver this in a version that's going to be a good-looking Web viewing experience. In the past, when I've posted something on Vimeo for example, I've just exported a Quicktime using the Broadband choice. Is that the best way?
Much appreciated,
Neil


Doug Block
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Neil, the Mentoring Room is for Enthusiasts who don't have access to the many discussion topics open for Professional members. Since you have Professional status, in the future please ask these questions in the appropriate topics.


Bill Jackson
Thu 17 Feb 2011Link

In reply to Neil Orman's post on Wed 16 Feb 2011 :

If it is just that one clip, you can send it to me and I'll send it back. I probably can completely get rid of it in Pro Tools, depending on what it is.

If you have Final Cut Studio, Soundtrack Pro Audio Restoration can lessen or remove it.

Music – You would need permission to use the recording, unless you record/perform the music yourself. Someone on here knows more than I do about the legalities.

Can't answer the Vimeo part...


Neil Orman
Thu 17 Feb 2011Link

Got it, sorry about that Doug. Bill, I really appreciate that and will get in touch via email. Thank you!


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