View Full Version : Peru Documentary

Shiloh Arts
06-17-2005, 01:50 PM
I'm following a local church on a missions trip to Peru, they will be building a school, and sharing their testimonies.

I might use the SDX over the DVX depending on the insurance capabilities. I've never created an outline for what I should film, insead I just film. Nevertheless, I heard it does wonders when you prepare a basic chart. I guess my question is to the best and brightest, what kind of prep other then getting all your malaria shots and selecting the right camera should I take for shooting overseas? Any ideas or past experiences would be GREATLY appreciated.

I need all the input, suggestions etc.. I can get!

Thanks guys and keep shooting! :thumbsup:


06-17-2005, 08:20 PM
I've been in situations where all I could do is just show up and start shooting without a plan.

What I do is shoot talking heads (interviews) with as many people as possible (asking them questions relating to the proposed theme and looking for personal stories), then pick up shots to use as inserts showing what they were talking about. Their interviews become the narration and you barely need to show a talking head on the final doc.

The drawback is that you get massive amounts of narration and too much material to work with in the editing room -- which can make for a boring doc if you don't find a focus for the story.

I guess the question you should be asking yourself is, "What does the audience want to see?". This will give you your theme and guide your questioning during interviews. The audience is usually the people paying you!

That's my approach. I'd be interested in hearing any others.

06-22-2005, 12:33 AM
Hi Pete.
I do missions media and would love to help. I am in the process of finishing an article about missions filmmaking and could email that to you if interested (too long to post). I would definetely shoot with the DVX, light and mobile is the way to go.

I just responded to a question about filming docs in another post under the Jour/Doc heading, it explains the way I handle lighting and interviews in the field. Every situation is different, but I travel small and light and lights are one thing I do not take with me (LED's maybe in the future).

pmark23 is right in the approach they stated. I would say find out what they expect the video to do for them. Is it highlighting a missions trip for other members to see what it is like to go? ...or is this video to spur on interest in others for the work they are doing in Peru? The focus could be on the people going or the people there (this type of video should be about people, not places - ultimately). I would find that out that first and then shoot everything and interview everybody!!! I list more things in the article and you can read it there, but you can see how that basic question will change the angle (or perspective) of the project.

I followed some kids into Mexico; that video was about their trip and their experience (no interviews from nationals, just kids about their trip). I went with a team to India and captured more about India and some team experinces relating to India (interviewed nationals, video about encouraging others to do work in India).

Sights and sound, people stories.

pm me if you want the article...

Have fun!

Shiloh Arts
06-22-2005, 09:11 AM
pmark23 is right in the approach they stated. I would say find out what they expect the video to do for them. Is it highlighting a missions trip for other members to see what it is like to go? ...or is this video to spur on interest in others for the work they are doing in Peru? The focus could be on the people going or the people there (this type of video should be about people, not places - ultimately).

Great feedback guys!

I believe the focus is a little of both. The idea here is to highlight the missions trip for other church members to know what’s it's all about. This way they know what their in for should they choose to except the challenge. Also it should spur the interest in others for the work that still needs to be done. When I say others, I mean non chuch members too. I have been following this church since it's birth and would also like to incorporate some of the footage into that documentary as well.

I'd love to read the article if you could email me it or post a link, it will be really informative. FatDaddy what kind of different challenges did you encounter? Did you bump into legal issues when filming the children, or did their parents all sign release forms?

I probably will end up using the DVX for reasons that it's light and less intimidating. Also, since I've heard that there's a lot petty theft I would much rather risk taking a much smaller less expensive camera that can do pretty much all the work. I guess that a wireless system rather then just using a condenser mic is also critical to take along....what are your thoughts?

Thanks again guys!


06-22-2005, 02:00 PM
Hi. I recently made a documentary along these lines... A group of people went on a sort of missionary trip. I didn't shoot any footage on location, but I was able to obtain the relatively decent DV footage from one of the group members' video camera.

I got all of the people I could, and generated a list of questions to ask each of the participants and shot them in an interview type situation with the DVX... the scenes were lit, and I was using a wireless lav as well..

The problem came in post. Basically, with projects like these you really can't have a plan - you've got to work with what you've got, and try and cut things together to carry some sort of story. I also had a lot of pictures that group members took which fit in very well to what people were saying..

When I edited the interviews I basically divided all of the footage into what they said, I reviewed all of the clips, picked out the most interesting out of each of the questions, and put them together in order. It came out very well for my first documentary, but I spent about ~200 hours post putting everything together.

You can check it out at


15 min. and 15.2 megs btw

So what I'm saying is - the on location footage doesn't have to be spectacular if you have good interview footage that you can shoot in a controled enviornment. When I put it together having the lower quality on-location stuff worked really well with the anamorphic 24p stuff -it gave it a much more "third world country look."

Take a lot of pictures and notes, and prepare questions to ask in an interview. The real question is, how long do you need the documentary to be? Do you want to focus on the trip itself (preperation and so on) or do you want to focus on the projects which will be carried out on location or do you want to focus on what the group members learned from the trip?

06-22-2005, 07:44 PM
Hey Pete.
Had a long night last night and just got in tonight. PM me and I will shoot the article to you. I will try to post the India video I did in the screen grabs section soon (have to recompress and host it). Here is the link to a short version I posted a while back:


The front is almost the same, but the rest is different...

I will have more time tomorrow and would love to answer questions.

I understand the situation you were in redcap, but your location footage should be spectacular, especially if you are going to shoot it. People relate to stories and pictures tell stories as much (and even more in many cases) than words.

Shiloh Arts
06-23-2005, 07:27 AM
OO my gosh FatDaddy, the footage and music was so inspiring that it almost made me cry! :shocked: :cry: Thank you!

This is what I want to recreate while we are in Peru, but I'm not familiar enough with the best camera settings in order to achieve these results. I did notice some slow motion, I assume you shot those in 60i. I would defiantly love to ask you some more questions. However, I'm not sure what PM means :embarasse . I assume that you mean to email you via the forum.

Recap I really enjoyed your video. It did have that kind of "Voices of Iraq" feel to it. The QT compression made it difficult to make out details though.

As far as what I'm already seeing as a possible route is capturing footage of the members packing and heading off to the airport, traveling etc. The goal here is going to be to experience the trip with out leaving your home, while experiencing the emotional part as well. This may be a challenge. However, I'm going to shoot as much as I possibly can and hope to have something for you guys by the end of August.

I really ....really appreciate all of the input...it's like a community project, and the reward is the final result.

Thank you guys so much.


PS FatDaddy, I really love the style of that India doc :laugh: Good stuff!

06-23-2005, 03:06 PM
i've also done similiar work in some very remote locations and posted a list of gear at http://www.dvxuser.com/V3/showthread.php?t=28014
just to quickly comment on the need for an outline... i can remember my first overseas trip was to nepal and then to a remote corner of northeast india. i shot all KINDS of gorgeous footage. even several years later i can't believe some of the footage i brought back. just beautiful. but as i was editing, i realized that i really had very little story. you can create evocative, poetic short mood pieces with music and good visuals (ie, BARAKA)... but in documentary work i've learned the hard way that you just cant beat pre-production. ie, pre-planning. meaning... you AT LEAST have got to have some basic themes that you want to evoke... an outline is very helpful... some sort of interview and shot list. sure i understand that you need to be flexible and roll with what happens... but that doesn't mean that you can't ALSO have a strong idea of themes/possibilities/elements ahead of time. even to answer basic questions like... WHO is this film primarily about? is it about the missions team or is it about the people they're ministering to?

really, save yourself some potential headaches in editing by having ahead of time a few key categories/themes that you can turn into a shot list and interview list BEFORE you go. you can then freelance from there.