Just in the last couple of weeks, we have had some interesting interviews with World War II Veterans, politicians, accountants, historians, Indigenous leaders to name a few of the wide subjects we cover. We have covered issues such as gambling, war, history, dementia and worked with people with disabilities. The top skill in documentary making is to develop your empathy skills. You need to understand what it actually feels like for the person in your interview - firstly as a person in front of the camera but secondly as a person re-living their experiences and what this means for them. We had one 91 year old man tell us last week this was the first time he had told anyone his story... what an absolute privilege to be documenting their story and what honour. Ensuring the story is right is of utmost importance - that it is right for them - not always the audience. It needs to be entertaining for an audience and also assist an audience to gather new information and a story that helps them in some way, but the story needs to be authentic. That means we listen and we try our hardest to get it right.
Things to watch out for - is the person looking uncomfortable? Perhaps they need to move - for instance filming someone in front of their colleagues isn't always the best idea. We saw one guy completely relax and give us the interview we wanted a couple of weeks ago just by moving him! You need to ensure you have well thought out questions WRITTEN down. Sometimes in the pre-interview you will ask questions and you may think you have got what you wanted but you might be thinking about the pre-interview. you need to check and double check you got what you wanted. If the person is crying, they may need to just let it out. Offering a tissue is sometimes interpreted as a message to stop crying - let them ask for one. Be careful with your subjects - above all they are giving you a golden secret - their life- so you need to treat each person with utmost respect. Sometimes it's about just letting them talk. You may be there for two hours instead of one, but what's important is that you've established another human connection, a trustful relationship. One of the biggest things we've found in this line of work is that there are many lonely people out there. Although you are getting an interview for your project or film, what are you giving back? It should be a genuine attempt at friendship. It should be time well spent enjoying the company of the interviewee and hearing them, really hearing them and their story, for as a film maker - the aim is to find a golden story. You will only find it if you are really listening and you care about what you are hearing and holding. Check out some Italian Backyard stories here
Before an interview have a good night's sleep or you will find yourself 'not really there' in the interview. This can happen and it's really difficult for everyone when it does. The interviewee knows you have gone vacant and are thinking about something else making them feel their story is not worthy and you will find yourself feeling apologetic for the rest of the interview.
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On-line video is finally gaining momentum. One camera man we know left Australia as a broadcast camera operator to work in the UK and came back as a an online camera operator he told us that on-line video is where the work is at and overseas it dominates the field for working operators. The work is in on-line video – check at an example of online video by Why Documentaries at Alzheimer’s Australia. Why Documentaries is working steadily and growing markets in on-line video production. Within 3 years, 80% of businesses are expected to have on-line video to showcase their products. What makes us different? We aren’t just corporate video producers, we bring narrative storytelling and documentary to on-line video production that helps you connect with your online video niche audience. Let us know if you need help to identify your on-line audience. On-line video is becoming more and more competitive – how can you make it stand out? By reaching your audience effectively. What does your audience like to do? Where do they spend their money? What kind of content do they already watch? what would they be likely to watch? Word of mouth and personal recommendations work best, so how do you achieve it? Well we know that video is a simple way to get your message across and we are all too busy to search for information on webpages. Video shows people what your product does and customers report that video has really enabled their organisation to get across key messages and raise their profile. Next time you need online video contact us www.whydocumentaries.com.au
Why Documentaries is currently producing 10 online videos for Alzheimer’s Australia’s website. Watch this space!
On 20th October Why Documentaries launched a new project “My Backyard, Your Backyard” documenting the critically endangered Italian- Australian Backyard. We produced these stories as 5 short stories as mini documentaries and digital stories innovatively for multiplatform use. The response we received was overwhelming and I was very proud to have been a part of this project with the organisation Italian Social Welfare (ItSoWel) as the project was completely organic.
Home grown tomatoes, taste second to none.
The Executive Officer Giovanna Cardamone had noticed the end of her backyard garden she knew as a child when her father had passed away. She understood the need to document the stories before they will go. It was sad sometimes to be documenting this project as we could see that this particular type of backyard (you know the one, completely covered in veggies and fruit with concrete, the pizza oven, the chickens, the produce enough to feed a street) is not being carried out by the children of the gardeners. We are too busy and it’s sad. HOWEVER, at the launch, we received some amazing comments “the films made me realise what is important FAMILY”, “I came away with a great sense of community”, “with all that’s going on in the world, it was great to have such a happy night”, “what a beautiful project” and all the thank you message really reinforced to us that it’s important to produce positive stories and to do it at the community level. I believe this is important too for our general mental health and we hope to do more of these type of stories!
Citizen Journalism and the Iphone
With mobile phone companies constantly spitting out better and better technology, it has become possible to capture footage on an iphone that was once the domain of high-end cameras held by trained professionals. Whether you watch the rise of Citizen Journalism with joy or trepidation, the sheer amount of new documentary footage available has to be a good thing, right?
Stumbling over this documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnvPXspjLtUabout the uprising in Syria, I was surprised to learn the cameraman had shot it using an Iphone. He tells us in the beginning of the documentary his reason for doing this; carrying a camera was too dangerous. The footage itself isn’t great – but then, really, who cares when what it’s showing is so insightful and newsworthy. This is an intriguing example for a new wave of documentary film making which portrays the guts of its subject, rejecting the glossy texture of mainstream broadcasters.
On the other hand, Citizen Journalism opens a floodgate of criticism too broad to mention here. While we wade our way through the hoards of bloggers, tweeters and facebookers, the internet also breeds not-so-credible iphone footage. As consumers of factual television, we are naturally suspicious of fraud in bystander docos and we are aware of the internet ‘trolls’ out there trying to pass homemovies as fact.
Have you ever fallen victim to false citizen journalism? What are your thoughts concerning the production of documentaries on iphones?