Definitely put them at ease while you are setting up for the shoot. Sometimes the more technically oriented will futz with the camera, sound and lights in silence, without putting the subject at ease with jokes and light conversation. That can get them more tense. I also find that if I want to relate to them on a very personal level, I might shut off the camera and tell them a related personal story that will elicit a charged response from them. If you set the tone that it's encouraged to be honest about how you feel instead of "performing" for the camera, I find it helps getting more powerful interviews.
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.
Thank you very much for all the tips. I guess making people feel at ease is key! My next group of interviews is next week and I have the feeling it will be better than the first one. Thanks a lot!!!!!!
In reply to Lynnae Brown's post on Wed 4 Feb 2004 :
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Jan, you're welcome to join the public discussions at The D-Word but I think everyone has got the message loud and clear by now. Take a look at our FAQ if there is any confusion – in particular the following:
Do not use The D-Word only to pitch your product or service. Feel free to recommend products and services in the course of conversation, but do not offend other users by coming in only to sell something
In reply to nick toscano's post on Mon 7 Sep 2009 :
Nick, this is a great "Fair Use" site by American University...hope it helps everyone on this forum: http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fair-use/best-practices/documentary/
I am starting a documentary series much like Louis Theroux. I am the presenter and also director and producer. The first episode deals with bouncers and I am basically looking for some advice on getting people to be in the documentary and any production tips for the crew. For example: whats better a rifle mic or a lapel mic? Essentially I am also trying to understand why documentaries like that work. Is it the amount of time they spend with their subjects and if so, do they spend that amount of time with many subjects but end up only using a couple?
Any tips would be much appreciated
Can anyone suggest to me how I could find out what the value is for a documentary on the international scene; primarily Europe and the UK?
I've had some interest in a doc that has aired in the US, but how do I determine what it's worth? Is there a consultant or a company I could go to?
Having a sales agent for international sales is sometimes not a bad idea. The rates for documentary sales vary widely depending on the broadcaster/distributor and on the film itself.
James– thanks for your reply. If there's someone you would recommend– please send me a note to my email address:
Can I buy someone lunch? I'm looking to bribe a friendship with someone who has more experience than me as a doc filmmaker. If you are up in LA or OC or even San Diego, I'd be happy to take you to lunch and talk about my project and how to proceed, what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid.
My Project centers around a horse sanctuary that takes in abused and neglected horses- but also profiles the various volunteers who have their own afflictions such as Post Traumatic Stress, Autism, Fetal Alcohol, etc. A reciprocating therapy takes place and could provide a more widespread solution to many of the mental health and social issues of today. We have about 50% production in the can. Would like to submit to the festival circuit eventually.
Let me know if you would like to provide some mentor-ship in exchange for a Big Mac... ;) email me if interested.
In an effort to keep this short I'm leaving out the background info, but if needed, I'll gladly post it.
How can I ensure a collaborative and successful interview with an organization and their representative when I'm certain they'll find out I don't like what they are doing? The specific person I want to interview is surely to raise some eye brows and with a quick visit to my film website, they'll likely get the hint that I'm not on their side.
You cannot ensure it. You can be open minded and demonstrate a desire to let them tell their side of the story, whatever it is. But in the end, it's up to them to decide whether to go on record or not. I've personally wasted piles of cash traveling across the country to interview people only to have them chicken out at the last minute. All you can do is offer them a chance to be interviewed. If they refuse, include their refusal in your film. That way, your audience knows you offered them a chance to refute any negative claims made in the film. And make sure to go over your film with a good lawyer if it's something that could potentially stir up legal trouble. And get E&O insurance.
In reply to James Longley's post on Tue 31 May 2011 :
It's so great to see you taking the time to answer questions from beginners like myself. Thumbs up!
Your answer is a huge help, especially since I had never heard of Errors & Omissions insurance before.
I understand now the potential to waste a lot of money traveling. I'll try to minimize this by asking the organization for a day of interviews with various people so I can learn about their activities in research, community/membership education, fundraisers, etc. If the main person I want to interview backs out, maybe I can get the other interviewees to provide the same information.
Thanks again James.
Would enjoy hearing from others how you go about finding music for your films? I'm searching for a "sad" song for a trailer piece I'm working on and having a tough time. What do you do?
In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Tue 31 May 2011 :
Moby has a wide range of free samples for people working without money or very little of it. Conditions are attached to their use, but fair ones.
I'm looking for a replacement for my Rode Video Mic because it makes too much noise when I'm walking around and filming. This is because it uses rubber bands for its shock system and they make squeaking rubber friction noises when moved.
Can anyone recommend a small mic that gets at least as good audio quality as the Rode Video Mic and can be used when the camera is moving around, say when walking with someone during my documentary interviews? I've looked at Rode's Pro model, but fear it uses the same rubber bands and will be noisy.
BTW, I have a lavalier mic sys, but still would like a mic I can mount on my cam and use when I don't have time to mic someone up.
People say nice things about the Sanken CS1. But the shock mount is not usually part of the microphone, so you should be able to replace your mount without buying a new mic. Without actually knowing which mic you have it's a little difficult to tell. What kind of camera are you using? What's your price range? What is a "Rode Video Mic" exactly? Link?
Here's the one I'm talking about: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/363083-REG/Rode_VIDEOMIC_VideoMic_Camera_Mounted.html
A good picture of the shock mount using rubber bands:
I am using a Panasonic HDC-HS700 – http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674251-REG/Panasonic_HDC_HS700K_HDC_HS700K_High_Definition_Camcorder.html
The link is for a more recent model (700K).
I hope to pay no more than 400 for a new mic.
Okay – for that size camera I honestly don't know what mic to suggest. But it sounds like your real trouble is the shock mount, so you might just experiment with different rubber bands or doubling up bands to see if you can get something that doesn't make noise when you move it. With audio gear, you generally get what you pay for, and most mics that are considered professional start around twice the price you are looking for. Remember, though, that a great microphone can last for decades if you take care of it, unlike digital cameras these days, which usually have to be upgraded every couple years. So investing in good sound gear makes some sense if you plan on making films for a while. Also, really good microphones tend to retain their resale value. But for now, focus on trying different rubber band configurations.
Alright, you make a good argument for investing in a quality mic. Will try messing with the rubber bands just in case I can hack something together. If I start spending too much time on it, I'll just buy a higher quality mic.
My documentary is health related and I'm having trouble finding a gastroenterologist who will agree to see me for a general consultation check up and be filmed while that is happening. I've talked to 2 offices and all 12 GIs have declined to go on camera during my appointment.
Having them on camera I think is really important for people at home to see what happens during these appointments. If you have ever seen the documentary, Super Size Me where Morgan Spurlock visits doctors in the beginning, you'll understand what I'm talking about.
I will keep searching, but I'm thinking of a backup plan and want your feedback. That plan is to get a small pen camera or easily concealed audio recording device and getting it on record that way, regardless of permission. Then in the editing process I will of course make sure there aren't any identifiable elements on visual and audio.
If I do this, I think it can add some needed tension to the film anyway. "What are they hiding? What don't they want you to know about?"
I'm hoping that as long as there isn't any way to identify the doctor I see, there shouldn't be any legal issues. Thoughts?
If you think the backup plan can work, have any suggestions for "spy" cameras or audio?