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The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

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.

Daniel McGuire
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

You should also research your market and find other films in the genre and talk to their producers – how many surf films get TV sales? How much do they sell for? Are your hopes and expectations realistic, and based on an understanding of the market for this genre of film?


Doug Block
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Karen, seems like you're getting good advice from others. So I'll mostly just welcome you to The D-Word and let you know we've upgraded you to Professional status, as befitting how far along you've taken your film.

This is an interesting discussion and now belongs in the Funding (Europe, Elsewhere) topic, where more people will see it and weigh in. We don't encourage double posting, but in this case feel free to post again there.


Neil Orman
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Hey, I had three quick questions related to a short doc I just did, related to sound editing, classical music licensing and posting this on the Web. Any advice on any of these would be greatly appreciated!
-Sound editing: I have a short problematic portion with a low electromagnetic hum related to, I think, someone's cell phone being turned on. It's not loud but it's noticeable, and occurs for maybe 5-7 seconds of a 30 second interview portion I'd really like to use. Is there any way to remove/minimize something like that in either Pro Tools or preferably Final Cut, because I'd prefer to handle this myself and I don't have Pro Tools?
-Classical music licensing: I want to use a 30 second portion of Vivaldi's 4 Seasons, and this piece is for someone to post on their Web site to promote their business. Is it necessary to pay to license the music for something like this, which won't be widely seen, and if so any recommendations on good Web sites or sources?
-Web streaming: I want to deliver this in a version that's going to be a good-looking Web viewing experience. In the past, when I've posted something on Vimeo for example, I've just exported a Quicktime using the Broadband choice. Is that the best way?
Much appreciated,
Neil


Doug Block
Wed 16 Feb 2011Link

Neil, the Mentoring Room is for Enthusiasts who don't have access to the many discussion topics open for Professional members. Since you have Professional status, in the future please ask these questions in the appropriate topics.


Bill Jackson
Thu 17 Feb 2011Link

In reply to Neil Orman's post on Wed 16 Feb 2011 :

If it is just that one clip, you can send it to me and I'll send it back. I probably can completely get rid of it in Pro Tools, depending on what it is.

If you have Final Cut Studio, Soundtrack Pro Audio Restoration can lessen or remove it.

Music – You would need permission to use the recording, unless you record/perform the music yourself. Someone on here knows more than I do about the legalities.

Can't answer the Vimeo part...


Neil Orman
Thu 17 Feb 2011Link

Got it, sorry about that Doug. Bill, I really appreciate that and will get in touch via email. Thank you!


James Longley
Tue 1 Mar 2011Link

In reply to Neil Orman's post on Wed 16 Feb 2011 :

Neil – cell phones generally don't make humming sounds on recordings. They make twittery, high-pitched interference noises. To minimize a hum sound in Final Cut, try using the multi-band equalizer tool and find the frequency with the hum. Then turn down that frequency for the duration of the problem. Any tool that allows you to selectively adjust volume across a small band of frequency will work for this. You might not be able to completely eliminate the offending noise, but you can make it less horrifying.

About Vimeo, try making your video 720p H264 format, assuming you are starting out with HD material. Without knowing your original format it's a little tricky to advise you on this.

But Doug is right (always) – you should be asking these questions in the pro topics.


Laura Marshallsay
Sat 5 Mar 2011Link

In reply to Avery Morgan's post on Fri 4 Feb 2011 :
What is your topic? I'm a novice doc maker, but a seasoned public historian.


J. Christian Jensen
Fri 11 Mar 2011Link

I just received word about my acceptance into Stanford's MFA program as well as the MFA in Film & Electronic Media at American University. I've done a fair amount of research about both programs online so I have a good idea of certain information, but I've found it hard (particularly with American University) to answer a number of questions not covered on website FAQs.

Is anyone familiar with the differences in structure and curriculum from the two programs? Perhaps any American University grads out there? I've already spoken to a number of Stanford grads, who were very helpful.


Erica Ginsberg
Sun 13 Mar 2011Link

I am an AU alum. I graduated a while back just when they were starting the MFA program (I opted to stick with the MA). Can't compare it to Stanford b/c I don't know Stanford's program. AU is a great program if you plan to make social issue documentaries, environmental documentaries, or want to be close to the research facilities of Washington DC. It is very much a practical-focused program (since it is situated in the School of Communications).

For perspectives from more recent AU alums (including ones who have been through the MFA program), you might want to repost(sorry hosts) your specific questions in the Teaching Docs topics since not all the professionals who could answer your question check the public topics.

Congratulations on the acceptances to both institutions.

Edited Sun 13 Mar 2011 by Erica Ginsberg

Jacob Bricca
Tue 15 Mar 2011Link

I'm an established doc editor venturing out for the first time as a producer of his own doc. I got a couple small grants which got me started, and now have a bunch of footage shot, a trailer, treatment, and prospectus materials. I have non-profit status with IDA and intend to raise some funds that way, but want to solicit larger chunks of change from investors. I'm looking for resources (example documents, books, advice) about how to set up a situation where I can engage investors in my film (total budget = approx. $160K.) Must I set up an LLC? Is there a quick-and-easy way of doing this? What do the contracts look like when people invest? Any pointers or advice is much appreciated.


Ben Kempas
Tue 15 Mar 2011Link

Jacob, now that we just gave you Professional status due to your impressive experience in documentary editing, let me suggest that you just start searching and reading our whole category of Business Topics. I'm sure you'll find many answers and ideas there.

While you're at it, you should really Introduce Yourself and tell this community a bit more about your background. Thanks!


Jacob Bricca
Tue 15 Mar 2011Link

I've been searching as you suggest and have found lots of useful tidbits. Will do an introduction, too. Thanks, Ben!


Martin Kelly
Thu 17 Mar 2011Link

Hi,

I'm starting a documentary project that will be shot in HD, and someone at the Apple Store recommended that I talk to Maxx Digital (http://www.maxxdigital.com/) about getting consultation for a RAID setup for a MacPro that I'm thinking of getting. Has anyone dealt with Maxx Digital before? How's their consultation and, more importantly, their products?


Kevin Hallagan
Sat 19 Mar 2011Link

hey everybody,

I don't know if this is the section to be doing this in, but here it goes.
I have some experience, but not much, so I was wondering if any filmmaker would like some free help on a project this summer? I am a fast learner, but I want to be a documentary filmmaker and the cinema department at my school isn't giving me very much practical experience.
Please respond if you're interested. I have a passport and am willing to travel. I'm friendly and easy to work with, I promise.


J. Christian Jensen
Tue 22 Mar 2011Link

In reply to Erica Ginsberg's post on Sun 13 Mar 2011 :
Erica,

Thanks so much for your input. I apologize for my slow acknowledgement of the reply. I was away for a few days. I've decided to put my lot in with Stanford because of its more intimate atmosphere as well as the long-standing reputation and pedigree. The decision wasn't made lightly though. Stanford, AU, and NYU (which I just received acceptance to) all have really amazing aspects that I wish I could benefit from. If only I could afford to go to all three... :)


Erica Ginsberg
Tue 22 Mar 2011Link

Well it says something about you that you were accepted into all three. I know a lot of really amazing documentarians have come through the Stanford program so certainly a good choice.


Doug Block
Thu 7 Apr 2011Link

Independent Film Week

Seeking Scripts and Documentary works-in-progress – Emerging Narrative and No Borders now open for submissions! Spotlight on Docs opens April 15!

http://www.ifp.org/independent-film-week/


Kristen Turick
Thu 7 Apr 2011Link

My husband is a DP/Director and was contacted about 2 years ago by a client wanting him to shoot an interview and broll for one woman's story of abuse, survival and healing through an alternative method called Transformational Bodywork. There was an urgency to do the shooting asap as she was also diagnosed with 4th stage Ovarian Cancer and her prognosis was not good. The purpose was to have her story documented so that sometime in the future it might be used for a documentary about the kind of work this therapist is doing. 

Some time later, my husband was contacted again by same client to come out and film some more footage with the same subject as she had now finished with chemo and was in remission. She had made great strides in her work with our client/her therapist and was celebrating her life. This time, I went with him and shot several days with her. During the shoot, it became clear that my husband and I had gained a remarkable perspective on how best to pursue this documentary. Since the client hadn't even yet lined up a director, we pitched to him that we could helm the project, and he wholly agreed. We then did one more round of shooting this past March.

Through each stage, the client had paid my husband his standard dayrate, so everything was essentially a work-for-hire gig. But as some other parties have now come forward with additional financing and the documentary as a whole is picking up steam, we're now floundering with the business end of all of this, playing catch-up to this bass-ackwards way of producing a documentary.

Which brings me to this... We need help! We have a producer we'd like to bring on board to handle all the administrative details moving forward, but we're so ignorant about what all those details are exactly. In doing research, I've read things about fiscal sponsorship, advisory boards, non-profit, etc. As of right now, we are slated to do our final round of principal photography this May in NY and CA and still have no protection in case things go horribly awry. Husband is currently talking with a lawyer about forming an LLC and drafting an operating agreement for the three parties involved: my husband and I, and the client-turned-partner. But we're unclear how to handle things such as:
- Who should own the Copyright?
- What is an appropriate split for profit/loss between us and client-turned-partner?
- How to accept outside monies which are still unclear yet as to whether or not they'll be Donations vs. Investments?
- If the incoming monies are Investments, what's an appropriate way to handle profit splits between we the filmmakers, and them?
- Do we need an advisory board? Does it help? Offer more credibility?

I apologize for the novella, if you've made it this far... any insight into these questions would be immensely appreciated, or if there's something else I might be altogether overlooking. Thanks so much for any and all help!


Doug Block
Thu 7 Apr 2011Link

Kristen, smart questions. I just emailed you to suggest a consultant (and it's not me, even though I consult quite often). It seems like you need a good one badly and I recommended a great one.


Kristen Turick
Thu 7 Apr 2011Link

Thanks very much Doug.. Much appreciated! I realize it's a lot to ask. :)


David Freed
Sat 9 Apr 2011Link

Hi, my name is David. I'm new to this group and to making videos' I've mostly been doing photography and printmaking up to this point.

A starting question: I want to make a short video about my art and artmaking. I'd be in it--in my studio--talking about, making and showing my artwork, hoping to make it informative and interesting. My question: is this considered to be a documentary video/film, or is there some more appropriate name for this kind of video?

Thanks, David

Edited Sat 9 Apr 2011 by David Freed

Bipasha Shom
Sun 10 Apr 2011Link

hello, i'm an editor who wants to edit more documentary projects. i have an extensive background editing tv commercials and music videos. i have also cut two features and have edited a number of short (30 minute) docs for warner bros and dc comics. i would really like to work on a feature length doc with more substance. does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about finding projects which need editors. thanks!! bipasha


Doug Block
Mon 11 Apr 2011Link

Yes, Bipasha. Join The D-Word as a professional member and put up a post in the Professional Classifieds topic. You can already put one up in the public Classifieds topic.

We have a lot of LA area members, so once you're a professional member you can check the F2F topic to see when there will be gatherings. Also, are you a member of Doculink? If not, would be helpful for you to join.

Edited Mon 11 Apr 2011 by Doug Block

Brenda Essahaty
Sat 16 Apr 2011Link

In reply to Kristen Turick's post on Thu 7 Apr 2011 :

Good luck karen,It was interesting to read your post,isn't it funny how complicated the business world is,by the time most finally get there they barely could breath,not having a one clear direction/one stop to help people forward with business is frustrating.

It's a very interesting documentary and I can understand why it's picking up.I have been bitching tv shows to producers,I would think the patient/partner is the owner of the copy right cause he called you to do the documentary for him.This can turn around on you 200 degrees,look at these points...He has paid you to do the documentary and the idea is his,so where do you think you fit in now??

I refuse to have anyone get in partnership with me on any of my ideas,and was determine to take the government funding and make a loan to top it up.I was told anyone who take part financially will not want to get nothing out of it,but a sponsor might pay something to contribute but have the priority on advertisement which means their logo will appear some where on the film and at every ad,but their appearance will based on how much they contribute.

Film industry is a bit difficult to get into and certainly not hassle free.

Good luck anyway,sorry can't help.But I like what you are working on.

Edited Sat 16 Apr 2011 by Brenda Essahaty

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