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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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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!


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