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.

Doug Block
Host

By the way, you shouldn't be posting questions in the Mentoring Room as you have Pro status.  This is meant for Fans, who don't have access to all the other discussion topics.  We don't encourage double posting, but in this case feel free to ask your question again in the Editing topic.

Dan Wayne
Pro

Thanks, I wasn't sure about that. I need a mentor!

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Hey Dan, you should also check out the Professional Classifieds since Ethan Steinman was looking for PA recommendations in Kansas City. You might have some suggestions and, who knows, maybe he has some recommendations on an editor. I'm tagging him just in case.

And Alain, I third the recommendation on Fernanda. Heck, I'll tag her too.

 

Mentioned: Ethan Steinman and Fernanda Rossi
Fernanda Rossi
Pro

A robot called me. Erica tagged me. Ok What do I do now?

My email is info AT documentary doctor DOT com for whoever was looking for me.

 

thanks Erica :)

[Edited by Erica so e-mail address won't be picked up by spiders since this is a publicly searchable topic]

Zak Carter
Pro

In reply to Kayla Kamp's post on Tue 5 Jan 2016:

 Kayla, as a fan of Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" and Kip Andersen's much more recent "Cowspiracy," sometimes getting denied an in person interview on film can really add to the story!

Mike Bell
Fan

I'm working on a documentary where I'd like to use some old TV footage that says "public domain". But I don't really know for sure.  How can I investigate?  The footage is from a show from the defunct DuMont Network from the U.S.

Heather Hutson
Pro

This week my first film -- Hotel Clermont -- screened at the Atlanta Film Festival. It was a wonderful (and nerve racking!) experience. I'm writing in this section on the site because I thoroughly believe in the power of mentorship and am glad that I, as a first-time filmmakers, teamed up with experienced filmmakers. I'm incredibly grateful to D-Worders Danielle Beverly and Eli Brown for all of their guidance and support on this project! (And am happy to share that Tuesday's World Premiere sold out :).)

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Yay Heather! I remember hearing about this when I met you at Full Frame a year or two ago. Hope we get to see the film in DC real soon. Congrats on the sell-out crowd!

Lev Deych
Pro

I am trying to produce my first documentary feature about a brilliant composer who was forced to flee Germany by the Nazis when his career just started picking up, and spent the rest of his life trying to revive it and find his new cultural identity at his new home in New York. I know the story and how I want to tell it, access to the archive materials and witnesses, I have a director (even two co-directors who are also new to doc film making), most of the cast, which includes some luminaries of classical music world (I would not want to name names here), partners in Europe. I do not have the most important thing - financing. I believe that this being my first film I would need to partner with a more experience producer if I have any hopes of finding any money for the film. I made a few attempts approaching some pretty big names who produced films related to my theme, but was essentially laughed at. So, here is my question: Is it too naive of me to hope that I could find a co-producing partner who would agree to help me raise the funds with the promise of an equity in the film and deferred payments, which will be made as soon as funds a raised? I also expect this partner not to try to take over the control over the project, while allowing for some degree of creative control within well defined boundaries. Is it even possible? I really appreciate an honest answer, and maybe someone would suggest whom I could contact with such an offer? Thanks a lot for your time. 

Doug Block
Host

Lev, the Mentoring Room is for members on the Fan level without professional documentary experience.  Being as you're a Pro member, you might want to post this again in the Production topic where it will be read much more widely.  Normally we discourage double posting, but in this case it's quite alright.

The short answer is: yes, it's possible. Longer answer to come once you re-post it. 

Christopher Carl
Fan

Hello everyone,  I am making my first documentary film and I have some questions regarding some legal aspects to making films.   Advice would be appreciated.

1- If I am shooting a documentary about say Gone with the Wind or the Martix am I allowed to snip some clips of those films into my film?  

2-If I am using a popular song as background music in my documentary do I have to get permission to use the song?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes would someone elaborate on how to go about getting permission and let me know  if there are fees involved?  Thank you! 

Christopher Carl
Fan

Thank you John and Tom. I read through the links and it seems to settle all the questions I have concerning copyright law in regards to print and digital media. Does anyone know about using popular music?

Christopher Wong
Pro

When using anyone else's music -- not just "popular music" -- you almost always have to get permission.  Of course, there can be exceptions (e.g. Fair Use), but not so much when you are employing the music just for background ambience/effect.

If you know how to contact the performer/writer, you can just send them an email and ask them how much they would charge for you to use the music in your film.  The price will be depend on how much of their music you use, and how popular their music is.

Sometimes, getting permission can be complicated, and it helps to employ a professional music supervisor who can help you with everything from contacting the artist's agent to negotiating the price to ensuring you have all the right signatures.

Christopher Carl
Fan

All, I am producing this film and I have written the script. The budget is rather large, 300K, which includes advertising. I am thinking that it might be useful to hire someone part time to manage the project. Someone that knows how to find the best director, find screenwriters if needs be, and just altogether act as the navigator to the project while I steer the ship. Any thoughts on how I could find such a person? Are there firms that have such people available for hire?

Doug Block
Host

In reply to Christopher Carl's post on Mon 9 May 2016:

Sounds like a producer or co-producer you're talking about.  And for docs, especially those made by a first-timer, they're hard to come by.  It's a good reason to go to industry events, festivals that have markets (like Hot Docs), and other places where producers hang out.  

 

Ken Kenderson
Fan

Good evening,

 

I'm about to embark on a complete career change and move into the world of documentary making.

I don't have any related qualifications or experience but am extremely hard-working and have no ego.

Would anybody be able to recommend any suitable starting points for me? I've started recording a very short documentary on my iphone using imovie to edit in order to just get started but feel I need more direction.

Can anybody suggest any good resources or does anybody need an extra pair of hands with a project?

Thanks for your time

 

Mahmood H. Hussein
Pro

Hello, 

Dear senior documentary filmmakers I hope all are doing fine. 

After a thorough and extensive research, I have what I highly believe to be a great and a very promising documentary idea . However, I need to know some of the steps that I need to go through in order to make this idea a living and a breathing entity?

Any suggestions or suggestions from senior members?

Thanks

 

Doug Block
Host

In reply to Ken Kenderson's post on Fri 13 May 2016:

Ken, being based in London, you may want to look into Shooting People and find some help there. 

In reply to Mahmood H. Hussein 's post on Sun 22 May 2016:

Mahmood, that's way too general a question to be addressed in a helpful way.  Since you're now a "professional" member here, you might post that question in the Works in Progress topic. But be as specific as you can about your idea and what stage you're at with it.


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