The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

John Burgan
Host

In reply to Christina Neferis's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

 Doesn't appear that you had actually applied, Christina - but no worries, I've just upgraded you to Pro - welcome to The D-Word. Also as Hosts we sometimes like an evening off!

The Mentoring Room is for beginner filmmakers, questions about The D-Word itself belong in Help with the D-Word Topic

Doug Block
Host

In reply to Christina Neferis's post on Sat 23 May 2015:

Welcome, Christina. A lot of people registering for "Pro" status seem to get stuck at the "Fan" level and the hosts are actually very curious why that happens, as we'd like to make it simpler and easier.  It seems it's mostly because they feel they did register as a Pro.  Any idea why you thought that?  

Jody Lauren Miller
Pro

In reply to Jesse Zook Mann's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

HI JZM ... Thanks for responding. I think i was misleading using "mentorship" ... but i was referring to this type of thing: http://www.howtomake-a-documentary.com/documentary-mentor  - Basically it says: "You've got QUESTIONS! We've got ANSWERS! Take advantage of our 40 years combined experience in the documentary industry! Let us guide you through an entire film, or just a tough spot in your process. Our award-winning background, attention to detail and supportive guidance will get you back on the fast-track."  

There was another "consultation" dealio ( http://docsinprogress.org/services/consultations/ ) ... just unsure if this is a useful step/tool/idea or plain dumb.

i am very familiar with doing narrative work and how to pull that stuff off on any budget ... but felt like a little direction with my docu concept may be wise ... again, i dont wanna be thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat idiot, but talking to those who have been there, done that (even if its for a reasonable fee) didnt seem like the most ridiculous idea. Yet anyway :)~  - 

Jesse Zook Mann
Pro

In reply to Jody Lauren Miller's post on Sun 24 May 2015:

 I think you have a more powerful support system on this site, but who knows. It looks like they have done ok. Getting ITVS three times is impressive. I don't think any of these things are bad but I said my piece about this topic over at: http://www.d-word.com/topics/175-Our-Daily-Bread-Redux?post=325039

Getting grants is hard. You might get ITVS, and Sundance... but you probably won't. even with professional mentor help. People with academy awards are having a hard time getting funding, you are comping against the best filmmakers in the world. Does that mean you can't do it? No way. People here get grants all the time. But even in the best case scenario it is years of work to get funded. Sometimes half a decade, and then if you don't get funded... well thats a lot of years wasted, and that is more of the rule than the exception. 

So these programs leave a bad taste in my mouth because in their pitch it is so easy - just do what they say and you'll be in festivals sooner than you can imagine! Unless you can find a camera, pick it up, and have the time to start shooting... that isn't reality. A camera, free time, a macbook, ramen, and d-word are a much better use of your money than professional mentors IMHO.

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Hey Jody, I am the Executive Director of Docs In Progress. While it might seem like my "pitch" would be very different from what Jesse is suggesting, it actually isn't. The best way to learn and improve is by doing - whether you just go out there and make a documentary and turn to free support networks like The D-Word or film communities and meet-ups in your own city OR gain mentorship by working with a more experienced filmmaker.

Paid advice works in very specific circumstances -- feedback on a cut or a proposal or, for some folks who treat it like a personal trainer -- to give them the regimen to keep them moving. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The consultation program of Docs In Progress is actually the smallest program we offer but most we do offer (filmmaker roundtables, work in progress screenings, classes, etc.) take place in the DC area. So I would probably recommend you seek out film communities where you are (Philadelphia? New York?) as well as the fine place you've happened upon called The D-Word.

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Oh and Jesse, only those with Pro status can see your post over in the Our Daily Bread topic. Thanks for re-posting part of it here so the Fans can see it as well.

Jody, you should apply for Pro status as well since your bio indicates you are hardly a newbie.

Jody Lauren Miller
Pro

In reply to Erica Ginsberg's post on Mon 25 May 2015:

Thank you EG ... i will def apply for "pro status"! I've written and shot tons, all in the ad space for the past 10 years ... so i thought your "pro" was for "pro DOCU" level exeprience ... i do have a decent base of experience since i started my career at NFL Films and that was a great training ground for docu style shooting, etc ... Thank you for your time and advice!!! Now back to picnics for you and JZM :)~ 

Doug Block
Host

Jody, thought I'd save you the bother and just promoted you to Pro status.  Clearly you qualify and now you'll have access to 45+ discussion topics.

Daniel Simmonds
Fan

Hey everyone.

I'm Dan, I'm an amatuer and working on an idea for a documentary. If anyone would like to offer some advice, right now I'm focusing on the story. I have the premise and outlined the selective parts and I want to develop it into a great story. Can any offer non-specific tips or maybe books to read on creating great stories.

Thanks

Michelle Maren
Pro

Hello D-Word - I codirected and am the subject of AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MICHELLE MAREN. Last month I attended the IFC screening of ONE CUT, ONE LIFE by Lucia Small and Ed Pincus. I could relate to so much of what the film had to say about collaboration. Question: Filmmakers, how would you define "collaboration" and what had been your experience?

Babette Hoogendoorn
Fan

Hello everyone! I am a Berklee Master's student and I'm conducting a research on the interest in exclusive bespoke themes based on classical music, created for independent film and documentary makers and advertising agencies. This research is done to explain and analyse my thesis for which I want to set up a business plan for a music supervision company that is specialised in classical music and can make exclusive bespoke themes based on this music genre. I promise it won't take you long and your input is very much appreciated. Could you fill the survey out before the 10th of June please? Thank you so much! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7HQCHZ6 

Kellie Krevosky
Pro

Hi, I was wondering if someone could tell me where they find their ideas for documentaries?  

Best and Thanks,

Kellie K.

Telmo Eduardo Covao Azevedo
Fan

Hey guys, I'm new around here so excuse me if this is in the wrong place. 

I'm working on  a documentary for my final project, the project is about a artisan who's lifestyle im interested in. Its a more intimate vision of his life/work. (in my opinion it's really important to keep record of this way of living, mostly because this way of working is getting extinct)

He has his own shop, fixes guitars and "most" important recreates medieval instruments based in "pictures" from books etc. Now to the problem itself, since im trying to avoid the BBC wild life of guitars genre, i'm currently struggling to create a story line. (I want to avoid these questions: how did you made this? how did you end up here? whats your favorite desert?) 

Some references ive been studying: Vertov, Harun Farocki, Orson welles, Hugo Zemp, Godard.

Thanks in advance and i'm sorry if i wasnt explicit enough or just confused everyone.

Telmo Eduardo Covao Azevedo
Fan

In reply to Kellie Krevosky's post on Wed 3 Jun 2015:

 well its going to sound cliche but it's true: you have to find something that bothers you or get you excited, just start with a phrase or a word and keep studying the subject until you find something worthy. Most important you need to have something to say otherwise its pointless. 

that's my 2 cents! 

Doug Block
Host

In reply to Telmo Eduardo Covao Azevedo's post on Mon 15 Jun 2015:

 Hi Telmo and welcome.  Usually what creates a story is conflict.  Is there any conflict going on the artisan's life?  Is his shop threatening to close, for instance?  Is he going through some kind of transition?  This is why so many documentaries take place over a lengthy period of time, because time is often necessary to capture periods of transition.

Jesse Zook Mann
Pro

In reply to Telmo Eduardo Covao Azevedo's post on Mon 15 Jun 2015:

 Doug's advice is on point. Unless he is SUPER engaging, and has a lot of archival coverage, talking about the past will likely be pretty boring in a sitdown interview. Now if he was played with the Beatles and narrowly escaped assasination by Interpol... I'll take that back... but if he's not superstar LIGHTNING you have to find conflict. If you don't have the much time to watch things develop, you can look for major events that are happening where your guy is up against something, and has something at stake. Something where he goes in looking to win, and he wins or loses at the end of it. Maybe it's a contest. Maybe its a tough familiy reunion. Maybe its a trip to meet a son he's never seen. Maybe he had an old conflict with a musician after the guy stole his girlfriend and they get back to play together after five years. Pry to see if these kinds of events might be possible to capture. Doc really works when you are watching events unfold in front of you. 

I'm sure some folks here would say it is unethical, but I will produce these kinds of events to happen. Usually it is the only way to get things done on the kinds of time restrictions I generally have for a given project. I try to set things up with as much informed consent as possible, and shoot what happens with as much empathy, and integrity as possible. If that means anything. I stuggle with this constantly... for 15 years.

Austin Anderson
Pro

Hi, 
We have a completed feature length Documentary that has won several film festival awards, and are now looking for distribution.  Does anyone have contacts with a sales agent? 

Please email me for info. 


Bests, 

Austin Anderson

andersonwaustin@hotmail.com

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3220044/

 

log line:
Sharing the Rough documents the never before captured process of the journey of a colored gemstone from mine to market while exploring the challenges of an emerging mining economy in East Africa.

http://www.sharingtherough.com/

http://www.sharingtherough.com/#!copy-of-story/c1aq6

Trailer:
http://www.sharingtherough.com/#!trailer/cjv8

 

 

 

John Burgan
Host

Austin - you look like you would qualify for Pro Membership of The D-Word - you would certainly gain access to a much wider range of advice in the Pro-only Topics

John Burgan
Host

Strangely, there's no sign of a Pro application, Austin, so please go ahead and re-submit. We give all D-Word applicants the automatic option to apply for Pro status as soon as they have registered as a Fan, so this should normally be a straightforward process.


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