Week 4

Directing the Documentary: Production

Ready to start shooting? Time for production!

A documentary is any non-fiction video or film that informs viewers about a real-life topic, person, event, or issue. Some documentary films provide us with educational information about things that aren’t well-known. Others tell detailed stories about important people and/or events. Still others try to persuade the audience to agree with a certain viewpoint. Whatever subject I choose, filming a documentary can be a serious undertaking.

StartUp  Outline

  • Synopsis: B-roll of Angie Wu’s company + background music
  1. Interview clip #1 of Angie
  2. B-roll: angled waist-up shot of Angie walking, bird’s-eye shot of Angie throwing ingredients on pies +background music #1
  3. Interview clip #2 of Angie Wu
  4. B-roll: detailed close-up of angie type on her laptop, wide-angle shot of Angie’s stuff talking +background music #2
  5. B-roll ofAngie Wu’s company exterior on harbor +background music
  • Eric Gao
  1. Interview clip #1 of Eric, close-up frame
  2. B-roll: close-up of Eric making the tea, bird’s-eye shot of Eric’s finger + Eric voiceover #1
  3. Interview clip #2 of Eric, torso frame
  4. B-roll: profile shot of Eric call his custmer, very tight close-up of Eric + Eric voiceover #2
  1. B-roll of Eric’s company interior + Eric voiceover
  • Locky Ge
  1. Interview clip #1 of Locky
  2. B-roll: wide-angle shot of Locky use his laptop, close-up of Locky’s finger+ Locky  voiceover #1
  3. Interview clip #2 of Locky
  4. B-roll: close-up of Locky +Locky  voiceover #2
  5. B-roll: interview shots of Locky +  credits

 

Week 3

WRITE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Before I interview our actors, take a look at this list of things to think about when writing the questions to ask in those interviews. Asking open‐ended questions can help I avoid one‐word answers. I may also want to ask two questions together to get the most out of the answer.

  • Who? Whom will  interview? My interviews can play an important part in my film, so choose my  characters carefully. Choose people who are confident enough to talk on camera and have the knowledge to answer the questions clearly. I may wish to include information about the  characters in my documentary, so think about the questions I could ask to get this information.

  • What? Think about what I’ll ask the characters to get more information about the topic. I may wish to ask questions about their experiences and how they are involved in the topic to show their knowledge.

  • When? If I am creating a documentary film about an event or a party, then the date and time are quite important. I  may want to ask my characters questions about when they do something or how often they do it.

  • Where? I may wish to include questions about the location or venue of the topic, if it’s needed. I could film my interview in a place that’s connected with the topic.

  • Why? Using why in my questions is a great way to get more information out of a character or subject during the interview. Questions beginning with why are simple, but they’re more likely to give me longer and more emotional answers.

    Before I interview our actors, I also learned after lots of research.

  • Learn to ask open ended questions. “Tell me about . . .”  “How do you . . . “
  • Listen, listen, listen. Don’t even think about what I am going to ask next until my subject has stopped talking. Ask follow up questions: “I’m interested in what you said about ________..Tell me more about that.”
  • Make a checklist of questions (things I want to cover), but don’t be a slave to it. Follow-up is more interesting than going on to the next question on the list. Check the list before I wrap, to make sure I haven’t left anything out.
  • NEVER, EVER ask the subject to repeat the question before answering it. The reason is that, first, they forget to repeat it, then I asked them again, then they say,  “What should I say?” Then I asked the question again, they repeat it, and by this time they’ve forgotten what they were going to answer.
  • My purpose in interviewing is to gain information, not just sound bites. As much as possible, I  want my subject to forget he or she is being  interviewed and simply carry on a conversation with you. I can’t do that if I am asking the subject to repeat  the question. In my experience, most sound bites from interviews run very well without needing the wording of the question.

Just like painting, the prep work often takes much longer than the actual paint job. And in fact, it’s a mistake to rush into shooting without thinking everything through.

Here’s our pre-production check list for directing the documentary:

    • Thoroughly think through everything I’ll need for my film from start to finish
    • Think about music, interesting scenes, styles and other unique visuals that can help tell the story.
    • Create a production schedule
    • Write a clear synopsis and visual style description
    • Put together a budget and proposal
    • Create an equipment list (camera, mics, lighting, etc)
    • Gather existing footage & other production elements (photos, documents, etc) Read my review of Pond5 for stock footage
    • Create an interview and shot list
    • Write a script outline
    • Produce a video trailer
    • Set up a Website/Blog/Facebook page to start building buzz.

Week 2

TELL OUR STORY

At this point, I should think about how we’re going to tell our story. From the research, I found the documentaries can be told in different ways, such as through the use of a voiceover or through what the characters and subjects say. A voiceover is a popular way to narrate such films, but letting the characters tell the story can feel more natural.

If we using a voiceover, write the script before filming. This helps to create a shot list and to structure the film. Our voiceover should always present information; it should never have an opinion. On the other hand, if you’re using your characters to tell thestory, be sure to have a list of questions to ask them.

Depending on our project, I decided use our characters to tell the story, so we disscuss a number of questions to ask them.

In addition to these conceptual considerations, the screenwriter must ask a number of practical questions as well:

· Why is this film being made?

· What does the producer/client/financier want to achieve through the film?

· Who is the targeted audience and what should their reaction to the film be?

· How much does the audience already know about the subject?

· What will be the film’s technical conditions of use (Black & White/Multi-colour?

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH: I CAN’T SAY IT ENOUGH!

Every film, especially a documentary, has a ‘value’. This could be social, political, historical, philosophical, artistic or of some other kind. The amount of research a scriptwriter puts in is directly related to the ‘value’ of the film. In the rush to get started, many people often skim over the research process. Especially in films that involve subjects of a personal nature; for example: a person’s journey within his own family to explore social dynamics. A scriptwriter could be instructed to write a script on a live event that was shot some time ago, like a riot, or for a film on the thoughts and feelings of a celebrity already captured in detail on camera. He might ask himself, “How can I possibly add anything more to the subject information?” Even in films that seem straightforward and detailed information has already been given to the scriptwriter, there is always room for more research. There are simply no shortcuts that will provide the quality of a well-researched film.

As the scriptwriter, I must ask  some important questions:

· What have I not yet been told about this subject?

· Is everything I have been told the truth? How much do I need to verify?

· What would I personally like to know about this subject?

· If I were a member of the audience, what would I want to learn about this subject?

· What can I find that is little known on this subject?

· If the shooting has not yet started, what information can I gather that would aid the filming process?

WEEK 1

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Planning our documentary film is essential because I want to make sure I have all the information needed before we start filming. When I ’ve done the research and I have all the information about our topic I need, I  can structure our info film in a way that captures the attention and interest of our audience.

This is why I tell the story with our interviews, voiceovers, and video clips. It’s an opportunity to explore our topic and to pick out the interesting information or the moments I would like to present to the audience. It’s also a chance to get to know the characters and understand why they’re involved in our info film.

In our small crew’s documentary, the main section will include interviews from the cast and crew of the film, video clips to go with the interviews, and facts and information about how the film was made and what inspired the story. The aim  is all about to present information that the audience may not know.

When I make a documentary, I might want to make a list of all the information and items I want to include in the film and then create a list of character interviews. Then, put this list into an order that will keep our audience interested throughout the film. Imagining the way the audience feels and the questions they may ask helps I choose the information to include in the documentary. Use this list to create a shot list, which shows every shot to include in the film.

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Working title: Startup Australia – come from China  

Genre: An interactive documentary.

Platform:

The series will be uploaded to a dedicated Facebook and YouTube channel. The series with the interactive elements will be accessible through the interactive platform of Klynt. Chinese social media platforms such as weibo and Youku will also be used to target Chinese audiences.

The Premise:

Watch the lives and daily activities of three Chinese entrepreneurs from various education backgrounds in Melbourne that have accomplished outstanding achievements in their career field. The documentary will allow the audience to see the reality of business life and learn the process and methods in starting up a business of their own.

Target Audience:

The interactive documentary web series is aimed at young entrepreneurs aged between 18-35. People that are passionate to startup their own business especially new university graduates. The documentary is targeting audiences internationally, Chinese and English speakers from all over the world.

Main Characters:
1. Eric Gao is a CEO of a financial investment company.

2.Angie Wu is  a CEO of a Media company.

3.Gary is a CEO of a digital design company.

Story World :

The first season’s story will take place in the city of Melbourne. Our main characters all come from China. Most of the scenes will be shot in their company, and part of shooting will be outside. The main scenes will take place in the company’s meeting room, and also involves their personal office. You can see the real life for the business people. Depend on the different character, we will focus on their different story about startup to help people how to startup in Australia in different field.

Narrative:

At the beginning of the video, the audience will hear the narration of this video and see the elaborate Melbourne city and street scenes. After this, the screen will display the keyword of three characters. When you move the mouse over the frame gently you can choose to click on the different keywords you are interested in. Then you can choose the different characters to see the different story of the web documentary.

Competition:

After research, we believe that the interactive documentary will always make the  audience participate with huge interest. Our project is not only to show the start up story about the success of young people but also to give more details and suggestion to young entrepreneurs on how to startup a business in real life.

Visual style:

Our project will be an observational documentary, the camera and the interviewer will never be shown or heard. We will rely on natural lighting and colors and only use lights during interviews or to light dark shots, to keep the documentary as natural, authentic and realistic as possible.
We have chosen a professional Sony camera that is more suitable for a documentary style shoot as it has all the features and buttons to quickly adjust a shot, the 5D3 looks more cinematic but is not a professional camera and does not capture high quality audio.

The audience will follow the protagonists to observe their life in a day. Most of the shooting will be done by hand-held camera style, which will also be more realistic. The choice of the narrative will be the audience’s decision, so the post-editing work is mainly about how to make all the clips match the various interactive options. Voice over of the interviews will be played in the background with subtitles, while interview and coverage shots are being shown.

Visualisation:

http://www.handmade-stories.com/en/#Portraits

We already have some footage of first characters, Eric Gao. Here is the footage link:

Trailer:
https://vimeo.com/176738774

Eric in the car

Eric outside his house

Here is the flowchart of our project:

Research:

From the hard work for research, there are some familiar projects, such as the video on Youtube named ‘What’s it Really Take to be a Lawyer?’, they  are aimed at lawyers, attorneys and law students before they get into law, but our project has a different target audience, and uses a different angle to deeply present the topic, it is very novel, that is connected with the students before they find their dream job. Then, there is also one resource named the Journey To The End Of Coal (2008), this web doc presents the real situation using many interfaces, still images, environment sound, dialogues, etc. It helps us to get a different style in order to show our series using different techniques and styles.

According to Nash (2014), although the documentary should focus on the goal of the filmmakers, the audience can still have the chance to take part in and achieve their own goals in web documentary. Meadows (2003) presents that new media storytellers can create short, multimedia narrative by using the affordable equipment. Otherwise, Herrero and Gracia argue that the filmmaker has less control of the context of the web documentary. Instead, viewers have the opportunity to decide the trend of the story.

For the interaction type choosing, Bonino (2010) introduces 4 types of interaction: conversational mode, hypertext mode, participative mode and experiential mode. The author claims that the type of interaction chosen by the documentary maker shows their intention and it is very important for them to choose the suitable mode.

As the post-production section, one web doc named Fort McMoney (2013) uses repeated video clips in the choice of an interface, we believe that this approach is more suitable for the production of our project, due to this way we don’t need too much background sound to render the plot.

Hardware & Software :

Hardware Software
Sony video camera After Effects
2x Canon 5D MKIII Adobe Premiere
Stabilizer Klynt
2x Gopro Adobe audition
One set of lighting kits Final Cut Pro
2x microphones

Crew Role:

Ailee Ma Stacey Ma Ahmed Alsaady Jingwen Huang
Director Producer Cinematographer Sound Recordist
Camera Operator

EP2

Camera Operator

EP1,EP3

Camera Operator

EP1,EP2,EP3

Interviewer EP1
Video Editing Video Editing Video Editing & Color Grading
Social Media Transcript Lighting
Shooting List Photography Copywriting

Timeline :

https://docs.google.com/a/rmit.edu.au/spreadsheets/d/1cdvC_VyOFmHGsB2ly8QC9PvVRR87iPQm7LwuG6BpX14/edit?usp=sharing

The Peranakan story

During our winter holiday, I with ‘the Peranakan story’ team fly to Malaysia to shoot our documentary as a camera assistant and sound recordist.