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Old 08-03-2005, 06:35 AM   #1
noguru
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Question Documentary tips

Hi all,
I'm new to the forum and film making. I have been screen writing for some years now but never actually taken on the task of making a film until now. To give you some background, I am in the middle of pre-production for my first documentary about the skate and clothing brand Chilled Heat. The guys running the company are friends of mine so I have quite intermate access to them and they will talk very openly to me and the camera. The company embodies a relaxed, creative and friendly persona and therefore I want to create quite a relaxed documentary. As a result I have been thinking a lot about narrative and how I will tell the story I am attempting to tell.

While doing this I have been thinking about voice overs and the like and whether to use a narrator or not. I understand that with documentary making what you produce is very much driven by the content you gather during filming but I want to have a better plan of the structure formed before I start shooting (in the next few weeks).

I was wondering if any documentary makers (or film makers in general) had any advice for me? things I should look out for? prepare? what style I should run with? if a voice over is needed or are there other ways of conveying information to the viewer? Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!!

Seeing the kind of stuff the company produce, photography, clothing, stickers etc. might help you answer my question: http://www.chilledheat.com

Thanks in advance,

K
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:40 AM   #2
scottspears
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Not to to be negative, but what you're asking for is a filmmaking education that would take years to learn and some of it is artistic decisions which only you can make. I'd take a class/classes in production, start reading some books and watching documentaries. There's almost no way you learn all of what you need from postings on a message board. One other thing to do is get some gear and make a short documentary on something you have easy access to, like yourself or where you live. That way you don't waste your friend's time and maybe money learning filmmaking on their dime. Your other option is to hire a good director of photography to help you.

Scott
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:51 AM   #3
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When I made my short doc.. I had about 40 min of footage that I shot plus another 40 min of background video for the subject.

I had to cut it down to only 5 min. While in the editing studio I was able to "see" different story lines within the footage. From there I just started shaving down the footage to certain parts. I did the VO myself, but it was minimal.

So from my experience, which isn't much, I would capture everything then make the decisions in post. If you need to narrate it then you can do it or get a voice actor, heck maybe even the subjects.

One thing that may be helpful is to definitely get a microphone. If you can get on body mics, even better.

Make sure your lighting is good and don't stage anything... capture it real.

But HOW to shoot and WHAT to shoot... that's up to you man... it's your story. Like Scott suggested, get some books, or shoot a short. It would suck to have a great subject and you don't know about lighting and sound... you learn that from experience... shoot a short and LEARN.

Are you editing it?
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:58 AM   #4
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Thanks guys, CootDog your advice and experience is very useful. It wasn't as much the what to shoot and what story to tell that I wasn't sure of I've got a grasp of that and I'm not too worried about saying what I want to say. I've got some training I'm a film major and taking modules in production etc. I was more looking for peoples experience and hearing that it came together in post is very interesting. Yes I am editing it, I have a lighting and camera op for the shoot who is doing film production at uni... we're only lighting the interviews the footage of them skating etc. is to be shot on spec.

You think on body mic's are better than a boom for the interviews?

Thanks again guys,

K
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:21 AM   #5
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Well For mine the boom was fine... I didn't know you were having an operator...

But not knowing how this is going to go, I really don't know... If they're skating in a pool... is the boom mic going to pick up what they say, over the noise of them skating?
I don't know.. I haven't experienced that.
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:39 AM   #6
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The noise of them skating etc. isn't really an issue as it'll be set to music, they'll be skating vert ramps, the interviews will be in quiet conditions where we can control the sound. Thanks for your advice you've been really helpful

K
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