Tag Archives: Film

So you want to make a documentary…


As I am currently diving head first into the world of movie making I thought I would offer some words of advice. I am not a pro by any means– I literally started playing with iMovie a two weeks ago– but I do have some ways to avoid mistakes.

1. RECORD ON A SEPARATE DEVICE! Okay maybe you all know this, but in film it is really hard to catch everything you need on just your video camera. Use a recorder so you can over lay the audio if a bus goes by… or in my case a huge stream of protestors for Occupy Denver decide to stroll on by. You may not need it, but ┬ábring it just in case. It is a pain in the butt to have to redo something. Plus you get the best quotes when someone hasn’t been rehearsing the lines.

2. BE SPONTANEOUS. Don’t try to plan everything out. Sometimes stuff happens that you didn’t expect and it makes things better! We interviewed a guy on the side of the road playing the flute. He wasn’t a planned interview, but he gave some of the best one-liners. Also when things are too staged it makes your interview seem stuffy. My original idea was to have the interview indoors, in a chair, very professional looking, but when nothing was available we did the interview outside in a park, and it was better! People are more at ease when it’s a more casual situation.

3. HAVE ALL YOUR QUESTIONS READY… and have extras. Have questions you may not use in the documentary, questions that may not be relevant, questions that will knock their socks off, have anything and everything. You never know what is going to happen so be on your toes. If someone is blowing through your questions at light speed you want to have ways you can coax them to expand. It’s all about leading the interview in a way that will get you the best information. If your interview is bad, you can’t blame it on the person. Your question have to have two roles: making the person comfortable enough to open up, as well as getting all the information you need.


As this process continues maybe I’ll have more pearls of wisdom.