hellopalespider asked: I came across this tumbler by chance and not even sure how active it still is (new to tumbler myself). I'm someone who suffers to an chronic illness that most people do not know anything about other than it was a punch line for a TV show. I want to make a documentary to enlighten people but know nothing about film. I don't even have a camera. Advice as to how and where to start? Someone recommended renting equipment or partnering up with someone who's done this, but where to find them? Thank you
I’m not actively writing about movies these days, but I’m still here :) Thanks for hittin’ me up!
The best way to start is to outline your documentary - write your mission statement, the story you want to tell, and why. That’s called your “pitch.” It doesn’t need to be particularly detailed, but it does need to be compelling, because that’s how you’ll get your crew (and the rest of the production) together.
Once your pitch is ready, make some flyers advertizing your need for a documentary crew - particularly a cameraperson with equipment - with a brief description of your pitch and your e-mail address. If you want to make sure the people who end up contacting you are serious, very clearly state on the flyer, “send me your resume and examples of your work”. If your area has an arts college nearby that has a video or film program, you can contact that department’s student services office and ask if you can tack up some flyers in their department commons. Save some extra flyers for leaving in local hangouts, like coffee shops, media and art stores.
If you don’t want to physically flyer places - or especially if you do, and want to be extra-thorough - you can post your flyer on craigslist, or any of your local papers’ online personals and job offer sections.
Once you start hearing back from people locally, you’ll hopefully be able to find someone with documentary experience who comes with their own camera equipment (bonus if they have boom mics and/or lavaliers) and knows a little bit about editing and producing.
If you’d like a bare-bones checklist of the equipment you absolutely will need to get started:
Lights are a bonus, but not entirely necessary for a first-timer.
From there, you can go into pre-production, which will mean fleshing out your entire documentary into the story you want to tell from beginning to end. Then, you’ll need to figure out your starter budget - this is for things like transportation, feeding your subjects and crew (VERY IMPORTANT), any equipment maintenance or rental fees, etc.
The money you use to get the project started will disappear pretty quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on your funds. Crowdsourcing on IndieGoGo or Kickstarter is a great way to gather money, but you will also need to pay attention to things like incentives for your investors (promotional art, shirts, personalized thank-you videos, etc.) and you will need to prove that all that money is going to your project, which will require a more meticulous budget. Finding a producer - someone who will handle the business and logistics aspects of your project - would be a major plus.
Once you have your story and your budget, find your interview subjects. If the documentary is about you and living with your chronic illness, you’ll have to plan the documentary around your daily schedule. Otherwise, posting flyers and online ads for subjects will hopefully yield a wide response. Find doctors and therapists who research or work with your illness to speak about the subject - you will need people of authority to both explain nature of the illness as well as strengthen the conviction of your story. Schedule interviews and make sure you are able to get in, set up very quickly, interview, and get out in a timely and respectful manner. Don’t forget to plan for breaks and meals.
Editing often starts after the first interview is shot, and can be done as you continue shooting. If there is nobody on your crew who can edit, you will need to find someone who can - often for pay, or at least barter. Remember your budget and hire people wisely. Keep in very close contact with all members of your crew, especially the editor, and always ask to see the dailies (what was shot that day, unedited) and rough cuts (unfinished edits) before you commit to a final edit.
Once the project is finished, it’s up to you what to do with it. You can post it online (Vimeo is a great host site), you can submit it to local film fests, you can host your own screenings… sky’s the limit! But try not to live in the future - be in the moment with your project so you don’t overlook anything or lose sight of your mission.
Making a documentary takes a lot of time and organization, and in between having to manage people as well as equipment, you’ll definitely run into complications and make mistakes. That’s just part of the process - and as the project leader, you will be the one to set the tone, so don’t ever take your anxieties out on your cast and crew. Give yourself breathing room when things get stressful so you can focus, and be honest with your team when you need help or a break. You CAN do this, and while it won’t always be super-fun, it seems that you’re really into making a worthwhile project - and that is what matters the most.
Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions, and keep in touch! GOOD LUCK!!
I’ve been getting a lot of messages lately asking me to check out various video projects and indie films and write about them on here. While I’m flattered that these filmmakers are interested in my opinion and endorsement, I want to nip this in the bud: I rarely do reviews, and I don’t plug projects by request. Never have, never will.
I’d be happy to write about how to get your project out to a wider audience, though, if enough people want me to. I’m also, as ever, totally game to answer any questions, give advice to or otherwise discuss film/media/art stuff with anyone and everyone.
Thanks for your understanding, and good luck to all of you!!
We want your small gauge wonders! As always it’s free to submit. We’re accepting submissions till the end of August. If you need an extension contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since posting message responses seems to be broken, I’ll try this again:
Anonymous asked: Quick question; Is film school worth it? specifically NYU film. I love writing, directing and acting. But my intended major is dramatic writing. I think I should stay in dramatic writing to hone in writing skills, all while pursing film making outside of school.
I am not the best person to answer this, because I chose to leave school to pursue my art directly. In my opinion, unless you work long and hard to build a solid portfolio, use much of your free time establishing and maintaining contacts, take any and every PA job/creative internship you can handle ‘til you’re “discovered”, and enter your work into as many film fests as you can afford, art school is just a very expensive hobby.
Filmmaking is an intricate art and requires a LOT of technical know-how, as well as artistic instincts finely tuned through practice. To me, film school is worth it to learn how to actually make films, but if you just want to write, direct, and act, you’re better off just throwing yourself into developing a portfolio and getting into the local art/writing/performance/film scene. Get your critiques from real working artists, collaborate with everyone you can, and learn the biz by being the biz. Save your money for your projects, or for getting a degree that will not just help you start your career, but give you a knowledge base that makes you unique and indispensible.
Followers: what do you guys think?