Articles Tagged Making Films

Witness to Change

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System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority has all the elements you’ve come to expect from an earnest, well-intentioned documentary. There are heartrending interviews with young people who have been incarcerated in California’s juvenile prisons, their parents, and the advocates who work with them. These interviews are well lit and seamlessly… Read more »

Production Journal

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In October of 2000, my then 20-year-old brother Jonathan was sent to the oncology unit of Massachusetts General Hospital from the Tufts University campus infirmary after a month of persistent head and neck aches and a “suspicious” blood test. While in the waiting room, he stopped a nurse to ask what the word “oncology” meant…. Read more »

I'm short of footage. Way short.

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Dear Doc Doctor: I’m in my first week of editing, and I have this horrible feeling that my 100 hours of footage won’t be enough even for a short. How can I stretch my film beyond the short format? Most likely you are suffering first week editing jitters rather than a real short versus long… Read more »

The Many Meanings of “Fair Use”

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So your documentary has commercial interest and high revenue earning potential. And you’ve secured all of the agreements, releases, and licenses for the film, except for one piece of vintage footage that’s not quite in the public domain (material which can be used freely by anyone because it was created before 1923), but it’s “pretty… Read more »

The Anywhere Effect

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A couple of years ago, I decided to take a break from New York, and headed out to Tempe, Arizona for graduate school. I imagined I was moving to a quaint little college town perched along the edge of the Sonoran Desert, dotted with vernacular straw bail houses, maybe, or adobe ranches. What I found… Read more »

Do I need a business plan?

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Dear Doc Doctor: I’ve been asked for a business plan for my documentary. I thought those types of things were only for fiction films. Do I really need to write one? Documentary makers are finally seeing the effects of the recent growth of the documentary market. It’s a unique moment in history. Similar to independent… Read more »

Docurama on the Rise

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At the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Steve Savage and Susan Margolin, the two minds behind New Video, a New York-based entertainment marketing and sales company, watched as tickets for documentaries were snatched up left and right. They witnessed audiences line up to get into sold-out theaters. They saw documentary after documentary screen with standing room… Read more »

Affordable post-production

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Dear Doc Doctor: In the post-production phase, technology becomes so complicated—there are so many options. Any suggestion on what’s the best format with which to master my film while still being affordable? Remember when there was only one way of doing things? When you would happily leave the working print at the laboratory’s door and… Read more »

Q&A: David Strathairn

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If you’ve seen a John Sayles movie, you know who David Strathairn is. Sadly, if you’ve not seen a John Sayles movie, you’re much less likely to have ever even heard of David Strathairn. He’s one of those I-know-I’ve-seen-him-somewhere actors that every once in a blue moon will pop up in a studio film like,… Read more »

I Blog….Therefore I Am

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Freak boy and Festivus poles. Gutted tuna auctioned in Tokyo. And Thanos-the-PR-man singing “Feelings” at karaoke. Whoa-oh-oh. I’m a blogger, but the existence of blogs isn’t news. What Freak Boy (a home-movie role I have twice played) wants you to know is how the use of iMovie, Apple Computer’s low-end, low-cost movie editing software for… Read more »