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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.

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Rina Sherman
Fri 29 Jul 2011Link

Anna, hi
You can also have a look at this:

http://translationjournal.net/journal//04stndrd.htm

All the best,

Rina Sherman
www.rinasherman.com


Nefin Dinc
Fri 29 Jul 2011Link

Hello,

I am planning to apply for a grant to make a documentary and they are asking for "letter of commitment" from the advisors.

Could you tell me where can I find a sample for a letter of commitment?

If I were to create it myself, what should I include in it?

Thank you,
Nefin.


Reid B. Kimball
Fri 29 Jul 2011Link

I would suggest you subtitle exactly as your subject speaks. Documentary films are supposed to be accurate, representing truth. If a deaf person learns that the subtitles were not reflecting actually what was said then you lose credibility. Also, I don't think your subject would appreciate words being put in their mouth.

If your subject is really that hard to understand, then can you not include them in your film? I always vet my subjects for camera presence before I spend the money and time with them.

Ramona, that's a shame you don't want to subtitle your films. I'm hard of hearing to point where I need to wear $6,000 hearing aids. I absolutely must have subtitles for me to watch a film and understand most of it. Then there are people who are completely deaf and they need subtitling too.


Ramona Diaz
Fri 29 Jul 2011Link

My films are close captioned for the hearing impaired. I think that's what you're referring to.

Subtitles are a completely different matter. I subtitle my film if they are not speaking English and it's for b'cast in this country or distributed in English speaking territories. My point about not wanting to put English subtitles on someone already speaking English to begin with is that it is offensive to the person filmed. But sometimes, due to distribution contracts, it has to be done. And if I only choose subjects who are easy to understand (and who will define "easy to understand" to begin with?), then I'm hosed.


Rina Sherman
Sat 30 Jul 2011Link

Hi,
I have an hour long timeline in Sony Vegas sub titled with a media generator legacy plug in. About 40 minutes into this hour SV started crashing repeatedly.
I have tried and tested all and any solution that various colleagues have suggested, to no avail.
I have several more hours of of sub titling to do and I am now looking for an alternative method. I need to print to tape and DVd authoring, so my titles cannot be made purely during the DVD authoring.

Any suggestions welcome. My sub titling is from Otjiherero to English and the same to French – two versions.

I will be looking at Subtitling Workshop, but any other ideas?

Thank you in advance,
Rina Sherman


Doug Block
Sat 30 Jul 2011Link

Rina, the Mentoring Room is basically for Enthusiasts who don't have access to most of the discussion topics. Some Professional members drop by here but not that many. Now that you have Professional status, you should move any further questions about sub-titling to the Editing topic.


Bonnie Friedman
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Hi everyone,
I have just finished my first doc and now need some advice on the business side. Against my better judgement I took bad advice and did not get cast or crew deal memos and now an intellectual property attorney tells me that broadcasters will require these in addition to other clearances. He says all crew, but not necessarily the cast, but other research tells me all cast and producers only. I want to do what is needed and I would like to only ask people once. So first question is : from whom do I need these deal memos? and second: are there standard forms to use (both pre for next time and post for this one.)
Many thanks,
Bonnie


Doug Block
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Bonnie, you'll need what's known as release forms for the key people who are in the film. Anyone who speaks prominently, for sure. It's necessary in order to get Errors & Omissions (E&0) insurance, which broadcasters require.

Crew deal memos are important more in case you get audited by the IRS. I've never needed them for any broadcasters, and I've worked with PBS, HBO, Bravo, IFC and many big international broadcasters.

I should add I'm not an entertainment lawyer, and I highly recommend you consult with one before proceeding.


Bonnie Friedman
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Thanks so much!


Bonnie Friedman
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Hi again Doug,
forgot to mention that the cast was French. Should I use a french release form, a translated form or both? Where might I find a french standard form? Also I suppose I should get releases from the narrators? I have one for the English version and one for the French version.
thanks again,
Bonnie


Todd Yi
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Could anyone recommend a good film lighting workshop in New York? Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

Thank you!!!

Edited Tue 2 Aug 2011 by Todd Yi

Reid B. Kimball
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

I'm having difficulty scheduling someone I want to interview. They sound enthusiastic about being in the doc. Have said, "provided I have time." Am going to the same conference as them. I've said I'm available "anytime". And they keep saying "if I have time." How do I get them to commit to a time? It's like the person isn't looking at their schedule at all.

Is it better to lead and suggest times than to leave it up to them to tell me what time works?


Jill Woodward
Tue 2 Aug 2011Link

Reid, I would suggest semi-stalking that person during the conference and getting a commitment for maybe the next morning or later that afternoon. They'll probably be wanting to fully participate in the conference and not sure which talks or whatever they can't miss. During down-time they may need to do socializing which can typically only take place during a conference setting. Maybe the morning after the conference ends would work.


Reid B. Kimball
Wed 3 Aug 2011Link

Thanks Jill, good ideas. I'll try suggesting later in the afternoon or evening after the 1st day events. The speaker leaves the morning after, so my opportunities are limited.


Doug Block
Wed 3 Aug 2011Link

In reply to Todd Yi's post on Tue 2 Aug 2011 :

Lighting workshops are hard to find, but DCTV has one every so often, I think. If they don't, I'd call and ask them if they know of any.

In reply to Bonnie Friedman's post on Tue 2 Aug 2011 10:17 EDT :

Bonnie, you can probably just translate a standard release form into French. And, no, you don't need to get a release form from your narrators since they're not appearing on camera.


Bonnie Friedman
Wed 3 Aug 2011Link

Perfect – thanks Doug


Monika Davidsz
Tue 9 Aug 2011Link

Hi there,
I'm fairly new on D-word and a first time documentary maker, originally from Amsterdam. I've started research for a documentary in New York, the result is the following work in progress trailer:
http://www.vimeo.com/20832541
Question, now what? I would like to put together a crew (director, dp, researcher) and produce myself. Any tips where to start, the process is a bit overwhelming.


Jill Woodward
Wed 10 Aug 2011Link

Monika, if you have funding for your project, the next steps should be pretty easy! Watch the films you like or aspire to be like, find out who worked on them, and see if they are available. Welcome to NYC by the way. I was living in Amsterdam for a couple years not so long ago.


Reid B. Kimball
Sun 14 Aug 2011Link

Looking for any feedback you'd like to offer on my latest teaser trailer, thanks: http://vimeo.com/27673492

Music is licensed from www.MobyGratis.com.


Andrea Feder
Mon 15 Aug 2011Link

In reply to Bonnie Friedman's post on Wed 3 Aug 2011 :

Hey Bonnie, I have a French release form if you need one. You can contact me by email if you want.


Bonnie Friedman
Tue 16 Aug 2011Link

Andrea – that would be fantastic! thank you. How would I find your email address?


Andrea Feder
Tue 16 Aug 2011Link

Just sent you an email with the release attached. Good luck.


Kevin Hallagan
Tue 16 Aug 2011Link

Hey everybody I have a question. it's pretty basic. I am trying to make personal business cards, but I can't figure out what a respectable title is. "filmmaker" seems too generic, but "Documentary Filmmaker" seems to be limiting. if someone wants me to just edit they would look at "documentary Filmmaker" and figure I wouldn't be ok with only doing the editing. My ultimate goal is to do all of it, the research, the filming, the editing, etc. but I'm ok with someone hiring me to do just one of those things.

What is a good respectable Title that still represents what I do?


Doug Block
Tue 16 Aug 2011Link

How about just Producer/Director? Or Producer/Director/Cameraman/Editor?


Bonnie Friedman
Thu 18 Aug 2011Link

Hi again everybody. I have more questions of course... I am planning a trip to France to screen the finally completed doc for the participants (the few who are left) and another filmmaker has asked if he could schedule other screenings there for me. I have been told that it's not a good idea to have screenings if I am planning to do any festivals. In an ideal world (for me) I could find a sales agent and go straight to a broadcaster, but if I am unable to find an agent I may yet want to try to do a few festivals for exposure.
So my questions are: yes or no on the screenings? And any ideas on how to go about trying to find an agent?
Thanks.
PS thanks again so much Andrea for the release form!


Deborah Dobski
Sun 28 Aug 2011Link

I'm seeking technical assistance surrounding a particular issue. I teach film & video in a high school. In an attempt to move my students into HD, I bought a black magic deck link and installed it into our 4-core mac pro. We edit with Final Cut 6. I'm able to feed an image back from the computer with HDMI onto a HD screen just fine. However, I am having problems with log & capture using firewire from a Sony GV-HD700 mini-DV deck into Final Cut. I found that if I use Apple Intermediate Codec, I'm able to capture on the fly, but in Log & Capture, the deck is not recognized by Final Cut with any Codec. ideally, I'd like my students to use Log & Capture, and I'd also like to be able to feed the timeline in HD back to tape. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Eli Brown
Mon 29 Aug 2011Link

Try this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1334513?start=0&tstart=0
Read to the bottom, as it seems like there are some more in depth settings nearer to the end of the thread.


Deborah Dobski
Tue 30 Aug 2011Link

Dear Eli: Thank you for trying to help! Where are you in Brooklyn? I teach at Saint Ann's School in the Heights, and live in Carroll Gardens. I've been upstate during the hurricane and just got electric and the internet back and so have just seen your response to my inquiry. – I've seen this thread, but I'm in a stage one step beyond these folks' discussions. With the Sony deck, I've never had an issue capturing HDV. But my desire has been to be able to screen the work in HD on a large monitor, and to be able to print back to tape. As a test of how I understand to accomplish this, I purchased a black magic deck link studio 2 which is supposed to allow the HD image to feed back via HDMI to an HD monitor (which it does) and to allow the HD image from Final Cut to print back to tape. I can't test this second feature because I am totally unable, now that the black magic deck link has been installed, to capture HD footage other than on the fly (i.e. NOT in Log & Capture) and only able to do that while using Apple Intermediate Codec which I don't believe is the correct Codec to be using. So, something I COULD do before installing the black magic deck link, I am now unable to do. And, of course, I have no idea if, once I figure out how to get Log & Capture working again, if I'll be able to print back to tape. Any thoughts, or do you know anyone who has used the black magic deck link successfully? Thanks so much!


Eli Brown
Wed 31 Aug 2011Link

I have 2 blackmagic cards, but don't work with HDV decks, so this might not be completely accurate... but, my guess is that you don't use the blackmagic card to print to tape – it's a converter, for lack of a better description; it takes HD sources and allows you to output those via it's HDMI on a monitor or to a device that takes an HDMI signal. However, it doesn't output back to HDV through the card. So, I would ingest the footage via HDV/firewire, then to output to a monitor, use the blackmagic card (they should install with several easy setups; one of which will probably have a name similar to Blackmagic HDV 1080i or something). To output back to HDV Tape, you'll want to use the Final Cut Easy Setup that is for HDV (not via the Blackmagic card). I'm guessing that in the basic HDV easy setup, you should have deck control restored. The Blackmagic card is looking for an RS-422 deck control signal, probably, which is why you aren't able to see it/control it.


Marina Lutz
Mon 5 Sep 2011Link

Hi Everyone,

The next edition of CINECITY The Brighton Film Festival (UK) is interested in combining a screening of my short film, The Marina Experiment, with a guest lecture, and they wish to know my terms and conditions –

Can anyone recommend what I should ask as a screening fee and lecture fee, in addition to travel and accommodation? I don't want them to think I'm too costly but I need to make it worth my while.

I live in New York.

Thanks.

Edited Mon 5 Sep 2011 by Marina Lutz

joseph Santarromana
Tue 6 Sep 2011Link

Deborah try this its for a kona card but i think it would work with the black magic card
http://library.creativecow.net/articles/poisson_chris/hdv-prores.php


John Burgan
Tue 6 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Marina Lutz's post on Mon 5 Sep 2011 :

The Mentoring Room is one of our few public Topics, Marina, meaning that it is fully open to the world and will come up on Google searches. As you're a Pro Member of The D-Word you can ask your question in one of our dedicated, closed Topics such as Documentary Festivals


Kristen Kellogg
Tue 6 Sep 2011Link

I am returning to Bali to film my first documentary. Last year I had the idea, but realized there was still too much I needed to learn before shooting. I took the last few months and worked with a local filmmaker who produces commercials and also makes documentaries. I am now feeling confident and ready to make my film. I am looking for another filmmaker who would like work with me. I could shoot it on my own, but would be great to have another camera and set of ears and eyes. Any suggestions for looking for someone who might be interested. The dates are October 26th-Nov. 11th. Any suggestions to finding someone who is in the area would be greatly appreciated!

Edited Tue 6 Sep 2011 by Kristen Kellogg

Reid B. Kimball
Fri 9 Sep 2011Link

Hello,

I apologize for this being so long, but hopefully it's not overly complex a question. In summary, I am trying to decide if for my first documentary I should go big or make it small and then at a later time do my grand vision.

I am faced with a decision that I need some help with from those who are more experienced than I.

I am directing and self-funding my first ever documentary. It’s a passion project and I am teaching myself the art of documentary filmmaking, along with all the technical equipment and editing skills needed along the way as I develop the film.

I work on the film part time with my other part time paying the bills and film costs. I realized the other day that if I want to accomplish my grand vision for the film, it will likely take me 2 or 3 more years at this current rate of production.

I’m confident I can do that, but I am worried about the film coming out in 2 or 3 years. My topic is health related, one that I feel can help nearly 60 million in the US alone who suffer from devastating digestive conditions such as IBS, Celiac and Crohn’s disease, the latter I have.

The grand vision of my film is about people with those digestive conditions who use alternative medicine instead of the conventional approaches when they don’t work.

Additionally, it will ask the question, if people like me and the patients I interview can overcome an incurable disease like Crohn’s disease without using conventional medications and surgery, why aren’t more people doing this?

That question will lead to exposing the systemic healthcare and government failings that are prohibiting patient access to healthy food and alternative treatments.

There are also concepts about modern western society being out of alignment with the natural laws of life and so we are seeing more diseases.

Lots of interconnected and heavy topics, and I feel they are important to make the film help as many people as possible. But people need help right now, people are dying frequently from the ravages of Crohn’s disease which eats away at a person’s intestines.

The other option I have is to make a smaller, tighter focused documentary that only discusses the patients and the treatments that have worked for them along with a few key medical experts. I could probably wrap production this year if I haul ass and release it next year.

But I’m afraid of doing that because I want to make my grand vision and I fear that if I make a smaller version first, something will happen and I’ll never get to make that original version of the film I really wanted. Are my fears warranted based on your experiences?
What do you think I should do?

Stay colonized,

-Reid B. Kimball


Rob Rooy
Fri 9 Sep 2011Link

Reid, is there any way you can go for the more tightly focused documentary now, and then still do the big one later? You say you're worried that if you go the easier route, "something will happen" and you won't get around to making your grand vision; isn't also possible that something will happen anyway if you embark on a much longer path to completion?

As someone who has also learned by doing, I would encourage you to choose the more immediate goal first. Especially if you want this film to be seen and be of immediate benefit to others who suffer similar diseases. And, as a newly minted filmmaker, all the things you learn the hard way on the smaller film can greatly benefit you on your next film, when you get to start with a clean slate! My experience is that docs can take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think they will. Unless you're a real glutton for punishment, I'd start small(er).


Reid B. Kimball
Sat 10 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Rob Rooy's post on Fri 9 Sep 2011 :

Rob Rooy, thanks for your advice. I've been thinking about this more and am leaning towards the shorter version.


John Burgan
Sat 10 Sep 2011Link

It's good advice – learn to walk before you run. Good luck Reid and keep us posted.


Reid B. Kimball
Sat 10 Sep 2011Link

Thanks John.

I have a gear question now. I'm using a Sanken CS-1 shotgun mic that requires 48v phantom power. Can anyone recommend a battery operated 48v phantom power supply? I find it's drawing too battery power from my Zoom H4n.

I'm looking for AA battery powered and ultra portability.

Here's a great example of what I'm looking for, but I think it only works for Sennheiser shotgun mics.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/92927-REG/Sennheiser_K6RD_K6RD_Low_Sensitivity_Battery_Phantom.html


Bill Jackson
Mon 12 Sep 2011Link

Reid, this one looks good to me. Phantom Power I haven't used it, but it uses a 9 volt battery and seems to be a good design.


Karina Whitmarsh
Wed 14 Sep 2011Link

Just started out and need to put a production log book together. How is this done. I'm the director and my one and only producer just told me he is going to join the Navy. I'm all alone now and need to continue making my doc. film. We never started one out in the first place..been only working with him for the last 2 months and only two shoots, so not much work to be done..however now I'm wearing all the hats. Help, please.


Doug Block
Wed 14 Sep 2011Link

Karina, as you're a professional member, you should probably ask this question in the Editing topic where you're bound to get more eyeballs. This is more for "enthusiasts" who don't have access to much beyond this topic.


Reid B. Kimball
Thu 15 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Bill Jackson's post on Mon 12 Sep 2011 :

Thanks Bill, that's probably the one I'll end up getting.


Jennifer Reiman
Fri 16 Sep 2011Link

Hi everyone :)
I am editing a political documentary which is my first full length project, and find myself in need of some good tips. I have a lot of creative control as to the direction of the film as well.
I watched 'The Cutting Edge' and found it very helpful. I would love some suggestions on more educational videos, and free courses to take.
Other than that, if anyone has some time they would like to share to help me along, please message/email me, or let me know if you are available for a phone chat or two.

Thanks :) positivecontact (at) inoutbox.com


Reid B. Kimball
Fri 16 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Jennifer Reiman's post on Fri 16 Sep 2011 :

Jennifer, can you tell me more about 'The Cutting Edge'? I doubt you mean the movie about the hockey player who becomes a figure skater, :)


Jennifer Reiman
Sun 18 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Fri 16 Sep 2011 :

Heh heh..no.

Here's a link:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428441/

It's a must see in my opinion! Informative and entertaining :)

Edited Sun 18 Sep 2011 by Jennifer Reiman

Jennifer Reiman
Sun 18 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Reid B. Kimball's post on Fri 16 Sep 2011 :

Btw, I wasn't able to find the whole movie streaming online, but I did find it via bittorrent file on xxxxxxxxxx :)

Edited Sun 18 Sep 2011 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Sun 18 Sep 2011Link

Jennifer, we don't appreciate links to illegal downloads at The D-Word, which is why your post has been edited.

As it happens, The Cutting Edge, The Magic of Movie Editing is available new and second-hand at Amazon

As you are currently editing your first full-length project, it might be worth thinking about how you plan to survive in a business where the fruits of your labours are made available for free. It's basically the difference between a hobby and being able to pay the rent.

Edited Sun 18 Sep 2011 by John Burgan

Doug Block
Mon 19 Sep 2011Link

Great point, JB. Ditto.


Jennifer Reiman
Mon 19 Sep 2011Link

Hi John,

I was wondering after I posted that if someone would say something.

First, just because a file is available for download through a bittorrent site does not mean it's 'illegal', and also in my case, I will make my documentary available for people to see for free, as well as purchase hard copies, as many in the genre I am working in are doing.

I support people in the industry by buying documentaries from them (usually after I have watched them) and I often give them away to people.

That being said, I appreciate you communicating with me about your edit

Edited Mon 19 Sep 2011 by Jennifer Reiman

John Burgan
Mon 19 Sep 2011Link

The movie in question is not available legally through any bittorrent or download site, Jennifer – if you believe it is, please email the link and we will happily post it. It may be available on Netflix to subscribers in the US for online streaming – but that's not bittorrent.

Edited Mon 19 Sep 2011 by John Burgan

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