Bugaboos Redemption is the first full length documentary film that I have worked on.
This movie is nonfiction and about 20 minutes long. My plan is to submit it to film festivals…particularly outdoor film festivals.
Well…I have worked “on” other films and short documentaries but I have never been able to say “I made this…just me!” So with this one I created the vision for how it could be done, set things in motion creatively speaking…and then did all the editing, color correction, audio correction…everything. It was and is super satisfying. But in order to make it out of my echo chamber, in order to make it truly great…I can’t stop there.
Tonight I emailed about 20 people with the password to the video where I have it housed online. I am seeking opinions, feedback, harsh criticism if necessary. Because after I got that “I made this” feeling I definitely smiled, but then had to admit that I can’t see what I am missing. I have no objectivity when it comes to this project…how can I? I have been looking over this stuff and living with it in my mind for nearly 5 months.
Here are some lessons learned so far while making “my” first documentary.
- Everyone you interview, or film and everyone who helps you make the connections to those people-they are equals in your creation. It won’t happen without them.
- As a video editor I am not the storyteller. By the time I see the finished footage from the camera the real story is already in the past. I am taking a story of what happened and retelling it, trying to be true to it. I creatively display the story so that people who were not there, can feel like they were…and learn from it the same way the individuals in the film did when it was actually happening.
- With editing on a timeline you can misrepresent the truth so damn easily to accentuate crowd pleasing tendencies…don’t do it. It’s not honest. Leave that for your fiction projects.
- Having great footage doesn’t matter. True moments die during editing if you can’t read the story the way the viewer needs to see it.
- Take 20 different video editors and ask them their opinion and shoot for the median response. To a point, no one can say “it’s better this way”…or at least it won’t be true.
- Leave the audience out of it. Sometimes you just need to write with the pictures and soundtrack for your own edification.
- Like all art, video crafting is an art. There are video editors who just take blocks on a timeline and schlep them together…and then there are people who create movement and emotion because of how they edit and how they care about the potential impact the visual story can have.
- It’s going to take more months than you think to finish that documentary. Think of your project and come up with how many months you think it will take. Multiply it by at least 3. Then again by 2 more. You are getting closer…
- Working with musicians who come to your house and compose on the fly while watching the footage is a damn fine thing.
- Work your connections and ask for favors.
- Need a song? Try to skip free online music you have no connection with. Don’t use copyrighted material that you’ll invariably have to switch out if your film goes into a festival. Ask a band you like. Pick one that wants the props for being in a soundtrack. Win win.
- Talk to people who know more than you do.
- Watch videos or movies to see different documentary styles but trust that you have your own. It takes time to find out what your own is.
- Don’t trust autosave. Everytime you think “OMG I love where everything is at, right now”…hit the save button.
- Everytime you want to get fancy and experiment DUPLICATE THE SEQUENCE and do the work on that sequence.
- Color code all related footage…if it is in the same BIN give it the same color. If you interviewed Mr. X then color all Mr. X footage Blue…and so on. Makes timeline management so so much easier.
- Organize those folders on the desktop! All footage should be right where you think it should be and organized by subject or timeframe…
- NAME all footage before you even open up your video editor so that all assets can be found by subject instead of long redundant numbers. Changing the default camera numbered filenames can take a while but it saves you so much time later when you can tell what is what by just reading the name.
Well…there’s my two cents for now. Anyway…here are a few screen grabs from my documentary. I am not saying much more about it now…sssshhhhh.