Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Greg P

Documentary Filmmaking Questions

Recommended Posts

A week ago I had a "pitch" meeting ("Donald... don't say pitch!"--CK) with a producer from a well-known cable network. My show idea, something I've been working on and researching for nearly a year, went over like a lead balloon. sad.gif Afterwards, some close friends encouraged me to take on this pet project myself--it's a one hour debunking-style documentary related to cryptozoology... a subject I've become pretty passionate about. Right now I'm going back and forth on the prospect of doing it myself. Perhaps those of you filmmakers who have produced documentaries or TV specials can weigh in and share a few of your experiences.

Some direct but simple, nuts-n-bolts questions:

1) Brief description of documentary/project

2) Total project length, from concept to edited, finished product

3) Total project cost??? (airfare, extra gear, rentals, etc...)

4) How did you finance the project? Grants? Grandpa?

5) Did you employee any paid staff or just use volunteer/friends

6) List the basic equipment used in production of your baby

7) Any "success" yet upon completion?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll give it a whirl... I am a newbie to this, but am determined to get something done.

Some direct but simple, nuts-n-bolts questions:

1) Brief description of documentary/project

Documentary on the life of a radical hippie turned Jesus freak whose influence over Southern California evangelicalism has been overlooked because he died of AIDS in 1993.

www.lonniefrisbee.com

2) Total project length, from concept to edited, finished product

I've been tracking this story for 10 years in total... but doing the doc for about 18 months.

3) Total project cost??? (airfare, extra gear, rentals, etc...)

I'd say we've spent about $30k so far. I bought a Canon XL1S, two G5Macs with lots of hard drive space... buying footage can be costly. I paid Dick Clark Media Archives $500 for 10 seconds of him dancing on a show called She Bang, a southern California American Bandstand-like show.

4) How did you finance the project? Grants? Grandpa?

My pocket.

5) Did you employee any paid staff or just use volunteer/friends

Me and an editor. Artwork done by a friend.

6) List the basic equipment used in production of your baby

See above.

7) Any "success" yet upon completion?

Played a rough cut at Wheaton College... been invited to Yale Univ as well. Nobody thinks it sucks... but, they might be just being nice.... dunno.

Getting a film done is like Sisyphus rolling the stone up the hill.

But it beats real work...

=)

david (sabbi@cox.net)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was at the Wheaton screening of Lonnie. It has some rough edges but it was a rough edit screening. It certainly doesn't suck, that is for sure. I appreciate the fact that it tells a story without sensationalizing it.

Many documentaries tend to put the information together like a horror film in order to keep the attention of the audience. It seems that a good story tells itself as long as there is a passion behind it.

I know this is not the thread for "Lonnie" so I digress.

I have only worked on student documentary projects but have longed to do documentary work my whole life. I have begun some audio documentaries that I intend to shop around to NPR stations as soon as they have been completed. I will be following this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input David and Asher. This thread had gone so long without a response I totally forgot about it until today when i was digging around. My own project, along with a year's worth of research, is still sitting by the wayside. Last year, the producer at TLC was polite but very firm that my hour-long documentary idea did not deserve its own special and would probably work better as a smaller segment inside an existing show. Just last week I read a feature magazine article describing a documentary special of the very same concept i pitched... currently in production. *sigh*

David, BTW... Fantastic idea for a documentary. I've been associated with Calvary Chapels for a long time, but didnt know the details of Lonnie's life and struggles. I was able to watch a clip online a few minutes ago, but something with the QuickTime plugin gave my computer the "blue screen of death"! ohmy.gif

Looks great... How 'bout some updates on how things are going?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey coltrane, check out the lonnie frisbee thread down the menu in the regular thread list. The updates in the past year or less are a fascinating story in themselves. PTC has been following this for some time now. Got me interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Brief description of documentary/project

Scratching the Surface: A Journey with H.E.A.R.T.. Independent filmmakers track the progress of Health Education Africa Resource Team across Kenya as they teach Kenyans how to curtail the rampant spread of HIV through education and hygiene.

2) Total project length, from concept to edited, finished product

One year and fifty weeks. Completed 1/29/05. The TRT is 30:00 for the Festival copy, 18:00 for copies suited to subject groups, 2:00 for the trailer. We have 32 hours of footage to assemble into various formats if called for. I'd like to create a 90 minute piece at some point.

3) Total project cost??? (airfare, extra gear, rentals, etc...)

Approximately 18k. 20k with DVD replication. (1000 units).

4) How did you finance the project? Grants? Grandpa?

Donations from family, friends and a healthy donation from my church.

5) Did you employee any paid staff or just use volunteer/friends

Volunteered. The three of us were given a small stipend to cover some of our personal expenses/loss of time from work.

6) List the basic equipment used in production of your baby

Panasonic AG-DVX100 w/wide, tele and fisheye lens adapters. Shure FP-33 field mixer, Sennheiser shotgun mic with Rycote pistolgrip and boom. Final Cut Pro IV HD to edit.

7) Any "success" yet upon completion?

About 50 copies sold so far at the HEART benefit; available online within 2 weeks. Submissions underway to various festivals. Requests from several churches to create documentaries for their missions teams...heh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jason...

available online within 2 weeks
Cool! I look forward to seeing it. You've practically sold me on that camera... Inspiring. The world may yet see my Bigfoot documentary!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...