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Old 05-10-2017, 02:11 PM   #1
harmonica44
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How can I approach this documentary interview problem?

For a documentary project for film school, I shot an interview, and already edited it into the footage, and the professor wants me to go out and reshoot it, before it's due... the reason being that the person being interviewed...

During the interview, when I ask him questions and he has to recollect the events he is talking about, his eyes go into the corner cause has to access his visual cortex, cause that's how he reimagines the events. But the teacher says I will loose a lot of marks on the assignment if I don't reshoot it better, cause his eyes are not looking at me, the interviewer for a large portion of the time.

I tried reshooting it, but the second interview didn't go near as well, cause he has trouble explaining and imagining the events, if he is not allowed to access his visual cortex to remember them. He just much more self conscious about it, and cannot be himself and explain things near as well as a result.

So I can either try to reshoot it a third time, or try to find another solution to the problem. The teacher says just throw some B-roll overtop, but I don't have B-roll that will suit everything that he is talking about. I have lots of B roll but there are times when cutting to it feels incorrect, and not the right time. A lot of the events he is talking about were not captured on video. But that's normal for a documentary. I have seen many documentaries where they will interview people on events, where no video footage was captured and they are forced to go without showing it much.

So is there anything I can do, to make it better, to pass the assignment with only two days to go before it's due. I can interview him again, but I don't know how to get him to not access his visual cortex and look at me the whole time, while taking, just to have enough usable coverage.

I can also throw in reaction shots, of me, the interviewer, but I don't know how long i can keep that going before the reaction shots of me get old.

So I have three options here.

1. Reshoot the interview and hope he doesn't access his visual cortex so much while going over the events he's being interviewed on. My professor says I could put the camera on a dolly and be ready to dolly back and forth as his eyes move, so his eye always look like, they are looking at me, as if I, the interviewer, is walking around him.

2. Throw B-roll on top, even if it comes off as random and it's emotionally not the right time to cut to it.

Or:

3. Use a lot of reaction shots of me.

What do you think is bets, or is there something else I should do instead?

Last edited by harmonica44; 05-10-2017 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:41 PM   #2
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I'm at a loss for words at this situation. WHAT?
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:42 PM   #3
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I personally think it's dumb of your professor to dock points because of how the person answered questions. If he looks off to the side then so be it. It's genuine. You can't always shape the person to what you want them to be or else they're just showing you who they're not.

Even if you tell the person to maintain eye contact, most people just can't do it because of how uncomfortable they are.

Last edited by shortboy; 05-10-2017 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 05-10-2017, 04:32 PM   #4
harmonica44
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Yeah the guy was shy talking about his past I think. He was all for it, but still shy, and I thought that it was natural and it showed naturally. I thought maybe him looking off and contemplating, actually enhanced perhaps, but maybe I'm wrong. But the guy is too busy to reshoot a third time he said, which I can understand, since getting him to look at me unnaturally the whole time didn't work, when we tried.

So I can either put some B-roll on top, or footage of me reacting. I have already used most of the B-roll though, and not sure if I have anything more that is interesting enough to put over, cause I think all the good B roll has been used.

The music has already been scored to the edit I have though, cause I needed the music before the due date, with less than two days left to go now.

So I can either throw over B roll, or reaction shots of me . But to be honest, I don't know if the B roll is any more interesting than his eyes looking off to the side while answering the questions. The teacher says to throw B roll on top, but he hasn't seen what's left of my B roll yet. I don't think that is a solution, and he just came up with the idea, spur the moment, without really looking at the B roll I have.

So I could do that, but that won't necessarily make it better I don't think, but that is just my assessment. I also don't want to cut it down either, cause if I do, it will result in jump cutting, since I only used one camera, and not every question was answered in different angles to cut to.

Or I could cut to reaction shots of me, but not sure if that is any more interesting to look at for so long though. How many reaction shots of the interviewer is the viewer, actually going to want to see?

I will look through everything a few more times to see what I have. But as far as I can tell, I think this current edit, is finished in terms of how it's cut together emotionally. I think that if I mess with it anymore to fix this eye thing, the emotional beats are going to be thrown off.

Basically he looks off to the side with his eyes about half the time, while trying to re-picture the events he is talking about. So that is about half the footage I need to fix.

So I can either recut all the B-roll over top and throw off the emotional beats, by trying to cover up this eye thing, that the professor said he will dock marks for... or I can just hand it in as is, with the eye thing going on, but the emotional beats are cut together more properly.

A third option would be to reshoot a lot of it later on along with more B-roll, when interview subject has more time possibly, and hand it in late. It will be docked some marks for being handed in late, but perhaps not near as many will be docked, if I keep the footage in where is his is not looking at me, while answering questions.

What do you think?

Last edited by harmonica44; 05-10-2017 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:09 PM   #5
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Dude, are you the director or is IndieTalk? Are you giving us all directing credits? At some point you have to take the reigns and actually direct! What do YOU want to do???? Do YOU like the original footage because it is natural? Are YOU bothered by the eye roll? Do YOU want to intercut? Direct your own movie and stand behind it!
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:18 PM   #6
harmonica44
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Well basically I want to do well in school and don't want to fail the assignment. So I was wondering what would be the best way to solve the problem in order to do that, since the professor said I will be docked significant marks for this eyeline problem. Standing by it, doesn't really help, if I get low marks for standing by it. So I am not sure what to do, and just want to pass the best I can.

Last edited by harmonica44; 05-10-2017 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 05-10-2017, 05:27 PM   #7
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You don't get fillmaking then. Look into politics if you want to pander.
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Old 05-10-2017, 09:56 PM   #8
harmonica44
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My filmmaking side says go with what I got and it's good, but I am in awkward position as a student as well and don't want to fail the assignment.

Last edited by harmonica44; 05-11-2017 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 05-11-2017, 06:23 AM   #9
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And this is why the poetry video was a good idea as exercise.

I have no idea what events he is talking about, but not having video of an event is no excuse to not think of creating imagery that might fit the story. Or use pictures from that era. Or add footage of the location of those events.
At least 50% of The History Channel is (B-roll) footage created after the events happened.

And Indie is right: who will you credit in the end titles?

You really need to learn to make decisions.

Problem:
- teacher thinks eyes look stupid
Possible solutions:
- reshoot (did not work)
- B-roll to make the amount of those 'unliked' shots smaller AND to make the video better (this is where you have to be creative)
- make the interviewee anonymous with mozaik (simple yet humorously rebellious)
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Old 05-11-2017, 08:21 AM   #10
harmonica44
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Okay thanks. I don't really have any footage of the events, but have added some photographs of the places. But there are sections where he is talking about things that one could not possibly get any B-roll of, unless you hired actors to re-enact the events, which the teacher will not allow us to do for this project. I guess I feel that footage put on top will come off as random. Like let's say I put a video of a city skyline for example. The teacher might think why is there a video of a city skyline over the footage? What does this have to do with anything? Things like that for example...

As for crediting in the end titles, I will credit myself and the interview subject of course.

Last edited by harmonica44; 05-11-2017 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmonica44 View Post
As for crediting in the end titles, I will credit myself and the interview subject of course.
That's gratitude for ya
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:19 AM   #12
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I went to a pretty competitive film school, and those who made films for grades always made the worst films.

First off, a student film doesn't even exist. A film being a "student film" basically suggests that it is okay to make something not up to par because it's "just for practice." Which is total sh**. You're making a film and there's no excuse to make anything less than great. If it's bad, it's just bad. But let's not pretend it's okay because it's just for practice. Sorry, slightly off topic but the idea of making films for a class really grinds my gears. Maybe a class can be what commissioned a film; but that's it.

If his eyes aren't facing the interviewer, then own it. This is your film. And if your professor is worth anything, they'll respect that. I had similar things while in film school and with my professor who I can best describe as the instructor from Whiplash. ESPECIALLY if you're doing a documentary. You are arguably there to record reality as best as possible and asking the interview subject to change his eyes would directly distort what that subject gave you. Especially considering the eyes are the "window to the soul" as they say. As a documentary filmmaker, it's YOUR right to embrace the more genuine side of the person you're interviewing. And personally, I think it would be insulting to ask them to do otherwise.

I worked on a feature length documentary very recently that sounds more in line with your professor's tastes; in wanting very classic, broadcast styled (PBS, 20/20, etc) styled interviews that are very controlled and formulated. But those documentaries aren't going to win any Oscars.

I do respect that if you're the director on the project, your professor is technically considered the executive producer. But directors fight with the executive producer all the time for the sake of the film. So the question is, do you believe the original interview is best and are you willing to fight for it?
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmonica44 View Post
..............Like let's say I put a video of a city skyline for example. The teacher might think why is there a video of a city skyline over the footage? What does this have to do with anything? Things like that for example...
If those questions pop up in your mind while you are making it, it means it isn't B-roll.
It means you yourself don't even know why you use that shot. So it is R-roll: Random-roll.

If reenactment is not allowed, maybe you can go to the location with your subject?
He can talk about it there, or just look around/walk around.

How many documentaries have you ever watched?

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As for crediting in the end titles, I will credit myself and the interview subject of course.

The IT community gets no credit????
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:52 PM   #14
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Learn the value of "special thanks to..." in your credits. Seriously.
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Old 05-11-2017, 02:44 PM   #15
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Watts you're relation to the subject. Making a good bond with you're subject may improve the flew and openers in a interview. Making a good relation is part of the research phase in documentary.
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