Making a Short Documentary

Lesson 33/35 - Building Scenes in Your Edit


Making a Short Documentary


Lesson Info

Building Scenes in Your Edit

Building scenes we talked a little bit about in the last section. Sometimes I'll try an experiment where I'll do a film and also I'm trying to be more veritae driven, and so sometimes I'll take the opposite approach and I will not build a film around the interviews. Sometimes I try the opposite approach, and I'll just build scenes, because I really really want these scenes to play out. And so if you do that first and then figure out well, what information now might need to contextualize this or lead into this or lead out of this? You'll find that your scenes are the ones that people completely forget they're watching a film. That's where something real is happening, and it connects to us, and we're totally on the ride. So if you're shooting something where you've really got a lot of cover, it's your own project, you've shot a lot of great scenes, I would flip order on how you edit, and I would build scenes first, because those are really going to be the meat of what you've got and to i...

dentify what's the climax of what you have, because hopefully you have a dramatic peak. So when you think about also the classic arc of the beginning, middle, end, the climax needs to be somewhere near the end, right? Because you want to accelerate from a climax to the end. So the narrative arc is not this. The narrative arc is more this, you know? If that makes sense, if my little pantomime here makes sense. By the time I'm building, building, and I'm getting attached, once I hit that pinnacle it's not like I'm going to now take the same amount of time to finish, because I've been building up. I've now kind of, so now I'm kind of going to accelerate the end of the film. So arc isn't quite the right term. And I don't know the geometry of what I just drew with my fingers, but you get the idea. So I would suggest if you have a lot of material and this is really going to be one of those rich, it's evolved, it's developed, you've shot over time, to be building those scenes and let the scenes speak for themselves and sing. And then think about, well, what would I need to know about this person to have that scene make sense? Or how do these scenes relate to one another so that you don't get stuck in the details of that interview you did? Because now what you can do is just cherry pick from the interview what lift it needs to do. What job does that interview need to do? So I think it's a reverse order. It's a more complex way to work. But what it does is it allows you to prioritize your scenes as having the value that they really have so that you're not cutting your scenes to fit the interview, right? So hopefully that makes sense. It is more complex, but also optimally it's the stuff. You got the stuff if you have scenes. Nobody's telling me what I need to know. I can experience the scene.

Class Description

There are stories happening around you all the time. How do you capture them and turn them into something meaningful to share with the world? Award winning documentarians and photojournalists Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur join CreativeLive to break down the technical and creative choices that go into crafting a short documentary. Whether you’re looking to create shareable videos on social platforms or hoping to gather funding for a more long term project, this class will be your quick guide into making great stories. Together they’ll show you:

  • How to “mine” for your story - what is worth pursuing?
  • How to get started translating your idea into reality
  • How to research your subject and optimize your shooting schedule
  • Funding support and techniques from writing pitches to reaching out to partners
  • Production logistics to get you moving, including gear choices, audio musts, and approaching people to be in your project
  • Interview tactics and b-roll coverage
  • Post production workflows to create a polished piece
  • How to generate multiple end products like trailers, social media videos, and even still photos
The only thing standing between you and telling a story through video is the knowledge to get there. Join Ed and Julie as they simplify the process and help you to begin creating mini-documentaries for clients or even just for yourself.


a Creativelive Student

OUSTANDIING COURSE, congratulations creative live for bring Julie and Ed in teach about documentary filmmaking. I have watched and bought a fair few courses on this subject and not one of them comes close to this. You can see the amount of work Julie and Ed have done to make this course amazing. The best bits for me are the real teaching opportunities when Ed and Julie are making their violin documentary. I have never seen this before in any course. Thanks Ed and Julie for an amazing course and letting us see inside there work that you do and sharing all your experience with us. I've never really written any feedback for most courses, so this must be a good one :)

a Creativelive Student

Ed & Julie provide so much insight & knowledge into the documentary making process. This is a high-level class that gives you a wonderful overview of what goes into making a powerful and interesting documentary film. It was so helpful to watch them work on an actual short film from start to finish, and to hear their workflow. You'll need to learn the technical nitty gritty elsewhere, but this course will help you dive into how to tell stories on video. I particularly loved the segment on doing interviews, and Julie is an absolute pro at this! Also really nice to see Ed & Julie working/teaching together and how their different skills complement each other. It was a pleasure to learn from them!

user 1399904409596125

Great class! I pre-purchased it and I'm glad I did. Great information, great pieces of work shared, and I especially liked how they showed from start to finish the piece "Resonant" . which I enjoyed watching. I'm a professional photographer (since 1985) who has for the last five years been transitioning in film making and I got some great tips from watching this.