6 tips for documentary filmmakers

Recently I’ve been thinking about making some documentary films. It is not an area I know much about so I started scouring the net. I came across this great article yesterday. It’s an interview with double Oscar nominee Marshall Curry in which he outlines 6 ‘tips’ for filmmakers working in documentary. Compelling reading!

Crash and burn tv for Filmmakers

One of the things that sets human beings apart from other animals is our ability to take delight in the pain of others.

In this case it is reality TV.

On the Syfy network they are showing a multi-part reality series called ‘The Town of the Living Dead’ about a group of decidedly amateur fimmakers who having been trying – for 6 years! – to make a zombie movie.

The piece below is from Variety, but, I have to admit I’ve watched the show myself and it is head-shakingly entertaining. I do not understand for one second why the ‘director’ would agree to be in this as it will surely mean he never works again, but, maybe time will prove me wrong. I’m reminded of the documentary – from the days before everything was a reality show – called American Movie that showed filmmaker Mark Borchardt trying to make his horror film (that is a great documentary too!).

If you want to learn how NOT to make a movie, or you’re looking to see how misguided, even in the age of the internet, filmmakers can be, then watch it.

The article is good too!

Filmmakers respond to the Michael Moore Manifesto

Last week at the Toronto International Film Festival Michael Moore gave a panel talk and revealed his 13 point Documentary making manifesto.

Of course, other filmmakers had to respond and indiewire has a good article on that. The long and short of it is that no documentary maker completely disagrees with Moore (you’d have to be insane to take a completely opposite position to the most successful documentarian in history) but several have ‘issues’ with some points.

Top 5 mistakes when trying to get funding for your doc

Another good article from over at FilmmakingStuff!

Just the other day I was having a conversation about this very topic. People in the filmmaking business just fundamentally don’t seem to understand a) business or b) raising funding (and often c) filmmaking!).

This filmmakingStuff article should point out some possible pitfalls. And really, at this stage of the game these ones are so basic it is painful that people still make them! Do your research!

Here’s your research for today:

Behind the Scenes – The Frankfurt documentary

The boys over at Fenchel & Janisch spent a few years(!) shooting and editing together a documentary about their city, Frankfurt. As one of my favourite YouTube filmmaking resources, I was not surprised to find that their channel also contains some behind the scenes videos.

They also have their own informative blog post about the production journey.

As a former Frankfurt resident (well, kind of, I have spent a LOT of time in Frankfurt) I love to see their footage and I am always inspired by these guys!

Rent the video on vimeo.

Low budget ‘faith film’ has distribution success

Recently the genre of faith (mostly Christian) focused films really seems to be taking off – at all production levels, but especially in the low budget (under $1 million) area.

The documentary ‘Holy Ghost’ is one such film. They raised $360,000 through crowdfunding and did a 15-city film tour in the US, and then went onto VOD, where they predict about $2 million in revenue.

Good article over at the International Business Times.

A Z-Boy falls, A Documentary Remembers

Back in the 70s skateboarding was the cool kid thing to do. I, myself, was hopeless at it.

But a group of kids from Los Angeles – and more specifically, the DogTown area of LA – were the infamous group. They were the Z-Boys.

In 2001 a documentary, directed by a former Z-Boy and narrated by Sean Penn, swept Sundance, winning the Audience and Best Directing awards.

Sadly, a few days ago, one of the original Z-Boys, Jay Adams, passed away.

Luckily for us, the remarkable documentary that hilights these kids is available on YouTube. If you are into documentary I recommend checking it out. (Sadly it’s not in HD).