Introduction to Working in the Field


Making a Short Documentary


Lesson Info

Introduction to Working in the Field

We're gonna actually get into the craft of working in the field. We did actually go out and shoot a video. We had a day in the field together. You're gonna get to see some of the pre-shoot footage of how we work together in the field, you're gonna see how we set up an interview shot, conduct the interview, and then we're gonna get into the nuts and bolts of the post-production workflow in the afternoon. We'll go over how to then take a lot of material, distill it down to what you'll actually keep in your final narrative, and then you're gonna get to see the finished video that we created. Within two days we shot and edited a video, so you're gonna get to see what we were able to do within a very, very tight timeline. So with that, time to get started. And also we are gonna go over B-roll. Besides the interview in creating a short video, you have sort of the two basic components which is the A-roll interviews with your main subject and then B-roll, that sort of forming the visual narr...

ative spine. But let's start with working efficiently in the field. All right? Okay, so we did some pre-production for the video that we shot. We discussed with Ken and with Sara, our producer, what it was going to take for us to accomplish a finished video within two days. Now that's a remarkably tight timeline. Most of you are not gonna have to work under that kind of stress and duress. But we did enough pre-production to determine what would make a good subject, what would be visual, what would be also self-contained. If you have one day to shoot you don't want to have five locations. As it is even in one location you feel pretty harried, so we did a lot of pre-production to figure out what would be a good self-contained story. So we ended up with a violin repair shop which is located in West Seattle. So you already, when you hear that, you think visual. Violin, repair, tactile, it conjures these kind of great visuals that you don't really have to make much effort to create something out of nothing. Which is sometimes what happens. Sometimes you have to do somebody who sits at a computer all day and so what do you do with that? So this is a case, we have somebody working with his hands, gorgeous instruments. So we're already starting to imagine what we might shoot, what would it look like. We did our homework in advance to find out is there any other media about him. Can we get a visual on him? Can we hear his voice? So what we learned is we knew we were walking in to a very tiny space. He's got a very small workshop and that was obvious from a video that was online. He also seemed like a somewhat introverted character from the video we saw. Not really outgoing. Not somebody who was going to propel a narrative forward. He seemed more of a quiet character. So we're already kind of thinking about what might we face when we get in the field and obviously there's a big concern when you go to interview somebody like that. Am I going to be able to tease out something compelling? So in terms of what we did when we arrived, so we got to the location and the first thing that you're going to want to do is just take in the whole scene. So even though we had an idea from the video we saw online of what his interior space looked like, we didn't have a sense of the context. We wanted to take it in. We arrived, we took our time to really survey around. Now even on the way there we were eyeballing what is the neighborhood. What are some of the scenics on our way to his shop? How do we place him in Seattle? And Seattle has a million gorgeous vistas, so what would be an optimal place? We only have one day and we're gonna try to set him in Seattle and set him in his violin shop and get to know all the details of what he does. I should mention that also in the pre-production we spoke to him on the phone and we had this robust conversation of asking all those questions about well what do you usually do, and do you make violins, repair violins. Do people come in and out of your shop? Are you a storefront? And then we decided it would be much more robust if we could actually meet one of his customers. So we asked him is there somebody who might be coming in that day that we're there. Would there be a customer that would normally come in so we're not having to totally stage things cause in our experience when you stage something what you end up getting is a bunch of people who look at you and they say "Well what do you want us to do next?" And our goal as documentarians is always to say you do what you normally do and we're just gonna dance around you. Our goal is always to disrupt as little as possible, let them play out their real interactions, that will translate on camera, and then we can sort of tip-toe around. And we try to intrude as little as possible. But having said that, in this case, and sometime and quite often with client work, and let's just say that this is an example of client work, right? We were given an assignment and we had a set amount of time and we had to accomplish it in that amount of time. We wouldn't necessarily have done this subject if it was up to us, even though it was great. In that case there are situations, or there are moments, where we will set things up and we will do a certain amount of direction. And we'll get into that more later because there are certain ethical questions that presents, especially as documentarians. And it kind of gets back to one of the things we were talking about yesterday which is this balancing between client work, making a living, and doing personal work, all right?

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.