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Sowlobro
08-10-2005, 01:44 PM
Hello:

I am new to this forum so please excuse any ineptitudes I might display. I am about to oversee a small documentary on dance. The show has a travel angle to it. It involves 13 one hour episodes on different dances and their origins. The series is small in the sense that budget is limited, the actual task at hand is quite large. I will be overlooking the production schedule, directing, and co-editing. I wanted as many people to give me either advice or even tell me of some of the mistakes they made in the past that they can give me a heads up on. Anything, as long as it is constructive will help me in any way. I have some film making experience but it does not matter I want to hear what you guys have to say. Any questions on the details are more than welcome.

Thanks

Jeremy Ordan
08-11-2005, 03:14 PM
I've been involved in two documentary projects in the past and am currently working on my third. The first mistake is taking it too seriously. The second mistake is not taking it seriously enough. The most important rule to be successfull is to allow yourself plenty of time, not to interact, and most importantly, to be true to your subject. If you are shooting 13 1 hour episodes I would plan on shooting approximately 20-30 hours per episode, meaning an average (25 hours) of 325 hours of total footage. I believe to shoot as much as possible because you need it. You are going to want to properly cover everything, because once you leave you can't recapture anything. Your topic is something I know nothing about, but it sounds interesting. I would personally go ahead and rent every documentary you can on DVD that has a directors commentary (Michael Moore's films are great for this) and just listen. One of my friends just got back from Australia doing a piece on kangaroos and for a 1 hour project he said that they shot over 400 hours worth of footage. You will need to learn patience. 13 1 hour episodes is the equivilent of making 6 features. I would give yourself about 2 years. Best of luck

Jeremy Ordan
08-11-2005, 03:18 PM
By the way, unless your name is Spielberg, I would recommend that you don't even list yourself as co-producer or co-editor.
If you look at the technical definition of each of these job responsibilities on a project of your size there is no way to take on all of these duties. Hire an editor and at the end of every day of shooting make a duplicate of the tapes and get them to your editor. Before that decide what you prefer. The overseeing and coordination required of a producer or the involvement of a director. Pick one and run with it.

Rasquachemedia
08-16-2005, 04:55 PM
Yankee, would you mind elaborating on what you mean by not interacting, do you with your subjects while taping or something more? thnx

discs of tron
08-16-2005, 09:37 PM
i suspect that yankee is talking about interacting with "subjects." i would qualify that opinion by stating that it really depends on the specific project and the style that one is trying to achieve. i've made several docs, and sometimes interaction is totally appropriate. sometimes it can make a piece interesting in a way that it might not otherwise have been. sometimes not. but the "interacting" question isn't something about which i'd make blanket statements.

Jeremy Ordan
08-17-2005, 07:22 AM
Sorry for not coming back to this post. By not interacting I meant not staging events. One of the key elements in documentaries is to convey a realism and allow events to unfold. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with asking questions, handling interviews, or people knowing you are filming. There is a problem with telling Billy to yell louder and doing several takes of events to get the performance you want. Just my .02.

.Alex
08-17-2005, 08:41 PM
I've been involved in two documentary projects in the past and am currently working on my third. The first mistake is taking it too seriously. The second mistake is not taking it seriously enough. The most important rule to be successfull is to allow yourself plenty of time, not to interact, and most importantly, to be true to your subject. If you are shooting 13 1 hour episodes I would plan on shooting approximately 20-30 hours per episode, meaning an average (25 hours) of 325 hours of total footage. I believe to shoot as much as possible because you need it. You are going to want to properly cover everything, because once you leave you can't recapture anything. Your topic is something I know nothing about, but it sounds interesting. I would personally go ahead and rent every documentary you can on DVD that has a directors commentary (Michael Moore's films are great for this) and just listen. One of my friends just got back from Australia doing a piece on kangaroos and for a 1 hour project he said that they shot over 400 hours worth of footage. You will need to learn patience. 13 1 hour episodes is the equivilent of making 6 features. I would give yourself about 2 years. Best of luck

Thanks for this Yankee. I'm currently in the process of making a documentary and this information is invaluable.

Really appreciate you taking the time to post.

Sowlobro
08-20-2005, 01:15 PM
I think the best advice you have given is to rent DVDs of documentaries with directors cuts. . . . Duh. . I never really thought about it. Honestly, thank you. I will be soon doing exactly that. As for putting on many hats. . . well I've got no choice. .. I think I might have made you think that I will be doing it all and that is not the case. I think the key is to try to put on the least amount of hats possible and find people you trust that can put on hats to help you out. I will be mostly directing and have since decided to tone down my tasks. Please, people if there is any other advice please post

jcgardiner
08-27-2005, 12:50 PM
Having worked in Docs for many years the one thing that is certain is there are no hard fast rules about any approach...and its not necessary to shoot like the police either...sometimes when you wash down the subject you get lazy....instead think about your shots what you need while your there cause your right you may not get that chance again. You are in a sense editing in your head on location make sure you have your establish shots (often overlooked in the chaos) and cutaways... Do you have a presell fo this project?? 13 generally is a good number for broadcast...but you never know they change their minds like the weather. Its also a heck of a lot cheaper to produce a 13 part series than 13 seperate docs. As far as not being able to handle wearing many different hats that all depends on if you have a hard fast deadline. Often times you do not have the luxury of having 4 production assistants and dedicated editors to help with the project....In many ways coming from an editing background will really help you in the field since you already have an idea of what works and what doesn't...an alternative can also be that you can cut the first rough cut and then have an editor or just another "good" pair of eyes that has no emotional attachment to the subject. Often times what happens is that you will fall in love with a shot or scene that just does not work. and since you will have lived and breathed this subject for so long you loose sight of the story and if it actually is telling the story....afterall that is what you are doing is telling a story to peoplewho have never met or scene these people. There is nothing wrong with doing everything yourself just make sure your up to the task....

Does this Doc require travel if so this is one of the most mindbending operations...and very expensive...

and this is perhaps the best piece of advice I can pass along to anyone....SOUND....sound in many way is far more important than the picture....many different ways to approach it. Once again it all depends on your subject matter. If you give more detail about the locations and the people involved I can steer you in the right direction.

Best of luck

All the best

skart82
08-29-2005, 07:33 AM
Just realize your from montreal... If you need in your project you might want to email me:skart82@yahoo.com. I'm one of the organizer of the FFEM (ethnographic film festival of Montreal) with all different universities of mtl. Your project might suit the guideline of the festival. The festival will be held at tne end of january like each year if your at least interest to come and see.

As for your project... it's really a big thing. I hope you get some help somehow. I TOTALLY agree with the last post,...don t shoot too much and take even more attention to the sound. Those are 2 essentials things to keep in mind when your doinf documentary on my opinion.

Good luck

Sowlobro
07-31-2008, 04:05 PM
Just reading my old posts. Unfortunately, I ended up quitting this project. Reading this post made me realize how right every piece of advice was. The only part of the project I did not prepare for was the politics of a despot executive producer. He ended up doing most of the stuff on his own with all other tasks carried out by yes men and cronies. Obviously the documentary's quality suffered. Since then I've moved on to movie scoring and a really cool one hour ( not 13 hour) documentary about my beloved father. Thank you all for your advice. I promise to post my progress.

HostFocus
08-11-2008, 12:34 PM
Hello:

I am new to this forum so please excuse any ineptitudes I might display. I am about to oversee a small documentary on dance. The show has a travel angle to it. It involves 13 one hour episodes on different dances and their origins. The series is small in the sense that budget is limited, the actual task at hand is quite large. I will be overlooking the production schedule, directing, and co-editing. I wanted as many people to give me either advice or even tell me of some of the mistakes they made in the past that they can give me a heads up on. Anything, as long as it is constructive will help me in any way. I have some film making experience but it does not matter I want to hear what you guys have to say. Any questions on the details are more than welcome.

Thanks
Hello sowlobro,

I produced/hosted a 30 minute show for two seasons. When taping live events such as yours, for my 30 minute shows, I taped for a day, an average of 4 hrs and that's really short but that's all the town could afford to pay the cameraman. The shows always turned out nice though and the key is doing loads of B-roll to capture their passion for the story!

Someone mentioned not to stage this event and that is true! Other than offering the director of the dance, some key players there, some broad, open-ended questions you plan on asking them about what their company is all about, make it as natural as possible! If they are rehearsed, it sounds that way, they get nervous, they try to memorize their answers and they will mess up, not portraying an honest, down-to-earth passion you need them to extrude for the story. When I ask that "expected" question to them, their response always leads me to ask another question to them that they don't expects (always something personal like, "What goes on in your head when you perform on stage?" or something on that emotional level). You want to know why they chose to perform and what keeps them passionate in their work.

Have fun with the day! Don't get all worked up with the stress of it the day of the event. Stress only during the set up and planning of it. On the day of shooting, I always call it "GRADUATION DAY!" The worst part of this job is the planning and all the hard work pays off the day of shooting where you just do it with a smile! If you show the stress, the others will too and they will mimick your emotion accordingly, causing the stress and nervousness! Don't forget to breathe deeply for ten! You'll do fine!

"Everyone has a story
Host with passion
like their proud families
will be saving it for keepsake
for many precious years!"

Sue