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Old 05-20-2017, 10:01 AM   #1
themissinglynx
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Question Loads of questions about making my first documentary short film!

I'm sorry for the length of this post and if these are super basic questions but I'm a real noob at this so I'm not sure how to move forward. I have a few ideas for a short documentary that I'd like to make but I don't know how to start it and have a bunch of random questions about the process. Here's what I have so far:

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My Background:
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Besides a few dumb, goofy movies I made in high school, I've never worked on a serious film project. I didn't go to film school or anything like that so I don't have much background in film making besides some basic knowledge of how to use Adobe Premiere. I used to be pretty into photography so I know a bit about exposure and composition but not much about audio, cinematography, film theory, or anything like that.

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Gear:
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I want to do this with as small of a budget as possible just to prove to myself that I can make a movie and like it before I invest in something better. I plan on shooting with my iphone 7 with filmic pro. I have a rode videomicro to use along with it and a tripod. I also have access to adobe premiere CS5.

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Film Idea:
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I want to make a short documentary (~15-20 minutes) that I'll post online (vimeo or youtube or something) about what motivates people to rock climb. Ideallly I'd like to interview people who have been climbing over a range of years. I'd like to show how people first got into climbing and kind of how their motivations change as they do it longer and they get older, etc. There's a local climbing gym near me so I potentially have some people to interview but I don't really know anyone there. There's many different aspects of climbing that I could explore too (indoors, outdoors, bouldering/route climbing, training, competition climbing, etc).

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Questions:
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How does one even start planning this? How much do you outline before you start shooting? How much of it is "scripted" beforehand?

Does my idea work? Most documentaries have a story of some sort and I'm not really sure how to carve a good story out of it. Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated?

How do I get people to interview? Just go up and ask a bunch of strangers and hope for the best?

I've never interviewed anyone before. Any general tips on this would be greatly appreciated. How much of their answers are you guiding them towards with your questions?

Who needs to sign release forms? Obviously the people being interviewed but what if I have some shots of random people climbing as B-roll or something. Do they need to sign releases too?

How do you guys get access to music?

Is my gear sufficient? Is there anything that I'm missing or just won't work?

Any literature that you would recommend on making documentaries?

Any general comments/concerns!
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:41 PM   #2
peacemaker
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I could answer one question - "How do you guys get access to music?"

For my 12 minute documentary, I got the music from killertracks website. It's free copyrighted music (at least it's free for me because I am a student and my school gives me login/pwd).

For my other documentary, I had composer. There are some good composers who are ready to work for minimum payment if the content interests them.

I prefer working with composers than taking already composed music from websites.
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:45 PM   #3
Alcove Audio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
How does one even start planning this? How much do you outline before you start shooting? How much of it is "scripted" beforehand?
Any idea will work; it just has to be interesting and well presented.

How much outlining/scripting beforehand will depend upon your subject matter and if you're presenting a specific point of view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
Does my idea work? Most documentaries have a story of some sort and I'm not really sure how to carve a good story out of it. Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated?
I did audio post on a documentary that just grew as it went along. Some are very carefully crafted with lots of preproduction.

Start with your own story; how/why did rock climbing grab your interest? Maybe you should get down to that climbing gym and document your start at rock climbing (or you can document a beginner other than yourself) - climbing into a harness for the first time, etc. That's your entré. You'll start to meet people, who can introduce you to others. People who have a passion are more than willing to share that passion with others. You may even meet someone worthy as a subject all on their own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
How do I get people to interview? Just go up and ask a bunch of strangers and hope for the best?
I've never interviewed anyone before. Any general tips on this would be greatly appreciated. How much of their answers are you guiding them towards with your questions?
Partially covered above. And yes, you just need the cajones to approach total strangers and ask for an interview. It's better if you can say that someone referred you to them, or you found out about them on the news, on the 'net, whatever. Then you just let people talk, you can edit it down later. You definitely want some prepared questions, but the interesting stuff happens when you let people talk. Their extended conversations could lead you in unexpected directions.

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Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
Who needs to sign release forms? Obviously the people being interviewed but what if I have some shots of random people climbing as B-roll or something. Do they need to sign releases too?
My understanding it that if the subject is recognizable in just about any way that you would need a release form, but I would recommend that you ask someone more knowledgeable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
How do you guys get access to music?
There are plenty of pay-by-the-song/cue web sites out there. Prices and quality vary. There are also quite a few composers - some even here on IndieTalk - who would like to score just for the experience.

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Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
Is my gear sufficient? Is there anything that I'm missing or just won't work?!
In documentary work you don't often get second chances, so everything has to be right the first time. The VideoMicro will do an adequate job as long as it is used properly. Your biggest issue is getting the mic properly aimed and getting it in close. You will probably be working on noisy environments, so mic discipline becomes very important.
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Old 05-21-2017, 03:10 AM   #4
Feutus Lapdance
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themissinglynx View Post
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Questions:
=============
How does one even start planning this? How much do you outline before you start shooting? How much of it is "scripted" beforehand?

Does my idea work? Most documentaries have a story of some sort and I'm not really sure how to carve a good story out of it. Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated?

How do I get people to interview? Just go up and ask a bunch of strangers and hope for the best?

I've never interviewed anyone before. Any general tips on this would be greatly appreciated. How much of their answers are you guiding them towards with your questions?

Any literature that you would recommend on making documentaries?

Any general comments/concerns!
Read this http://view.thespectrum.net/series/kokou-no-hito.html

Watch this.



Not any ideas work. What makes rock climbers different from normal people? Thats somting that you need to show in your movie. And only asking these questions will not make your movie interesting. You need to show the viewer what it is to rock climb. There needs to be something on the line to make youre doc interesting. You even have to consider to do interviews while you yourself rock climb whit a pro. So I would recommencement to upgrade your gear with at least a Go pro, or a drone and transmit microfoon. And most important part of the documentary will be if the people that you interview can be intimate with you. That means that you wil. have to built a relation ship with your subjects. That means that before you shoot you make a good relation ship with you're subjects. It also means that you find the richt subjects. Introverts and people that perspective or show no emotions are not interesting. Find a subject that has a story to tel, for instance. A person that lost a loved one that use to ruck climb to grieve or a rock climber that uses rock climbing to overcome a disease/mental illness.

I made a documentary last year. Its about 12 minutes long. took me almost 6 Mont's to make 20 minutes will be longer than you think. Looking forward to what you gonna make. Good luck.

Last edited by Feutus Lapdance; 05-21-2017 at 03:21 AM.
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Old 05-21-2017, 10:36 AM   #5
themissinglynx
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Wow thanks for the advice everyone! I really appreciate it and look forward to being a part of this forum!
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Old 05-21-2017, 01:38 PM   #6
mlesemann
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I'll chime in on the subject of music also.
I've had good success with reaching out to indie musicians who write & perform/produce their own music. Many will let you use their music in exchange for a credit - they are looking for exposure too, and if they've already recorded a song there's no cost to them (assuming that it's original and they own the rights).

In terms of interviewing people, I'd start with the simple idea of what would you want to hear/know? Ask open-ended questions and let people talk, then have a couple of follow up questions ready.

Go at it with the idea that you'll get far more than you can use from each person, and in the editing you'll look for the golden nugget from each person.

Good luck!
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Old 05-23-2017, 03:44 PM   #7
wescurry45nion
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Well, here is one. I finished a feature length indie comedy and made enough to live for a year writing whatever the heck I want to compose. I am not into this for 'only' the money, truelly love writing for film, and always give everything to a project.
(312) 330 7123
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Old 05-24-2017, 04:47 PM   #8
themissinglynx
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wescurry45nion, here is one what?
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Old 05-24-2017, 05:01 PM   #9
wescurry45nion
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Here is One

Well,,I am very 'new' to this site and am getting my bearings as to the outlook and what its about and what is going on. I simply sent you some of my work, in a way, offering to write some music for your documentary.
Just wanted to show you some of the "higher' end stuff I have done. Its not really to bragg upon though....laughingly...the movie was a real clunker.
My natural fear about throwing something like this at you was that it immedieately could pidgean hole a creative person like myself into the misconception that I only work in one Genre.

I wish you the best luck and adventure in your film making, and hope we can someday talk. Me.....I am independant enough where I am not looking for money, really, just want to get something started with you if possible.

All the best,
Wesley
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Old 05-24-2017, 05:06 PM   #10
themissinglynx
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Oh haha. Sorry I just wasn't sure what you meant. Thanks for the offer! I haven't reached that point yet but I will definitely keep you in mind when I do!
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Old 05-24-2017, 06:01 PM   #11
Lucky Hardwood
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I would recommend that you figure out a narrative arc for your film. If you want to evangelize the sport of rock climbing, you would start with the very basics and take the viewer through a lifetime of reaching for the sky through the eyes of those that have been there. I would also recommend getting an experienced climber to record (via GoPro etc) a live climb. Don't forget to cover the dangers of climbing - have the people you are interviewing had any really close calls, and have they lost someone to the rocks. The more poignant and relatable you can make the story, the better it will be received.

Best of luck and don't forget to post a link to the finished film for us.
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