Friday, February 21, 2014

Backpack Journalism workshop: Day #2

Working with my new friend Jerry on our documentaries.
This is the second day of my experience at the Bill Gentile backpack journalism workshop. You can read about the first day here.

Review of what we learned yesterday:

  • The six shot system. 
  • How to hold and operate a camera was huge for me. This is something I will bring back to my students.
  • Eye contact with subjects. This is very different from the journalism I am used to with my students where the subject is looking slightly off to the side of the camera. 
  • Shooting for 20 seconds. 
  • Managing the lights when shooting the characters. 
  • Think of the camera as a finger pointing at things. 
All stories have three components: a beginning, a middle and an end. 

My controlling idea: My documentary shows an African man on his first trip to America and how his expectations of America mesh with the reality he sees on the ground.

Dramatic Arc: The spinal column of your story.

Characters are vehicles to get you from point A to point B.

People want to hear stories about people.

In a good documentary you should be able to turn off the sound and understand what is happening.

Formal interviews

Point one leg of the tripod at your subject.

Get in close and intimate with the subject.

Can cut off some of the hair, but not the chin so you can have a lower third if necessary.

Confirm the source of the light. Cast shadow on one side of the face. They should be looking INTO the light. If they are looking into darkness they will look evil. Simple trick - your LCD screen should be pointing into the light.

Last two questions to ask:
Is there anything you would like to add?
What are your deepest concerns and fears about this subject?

AFTER the interview, go to a wide shot and let the camera run for 60 seconds. This will give you great cut-away footage of the subject. 

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