Making a Short Documentary

Lesson 4/35 - Use Visual Language to Tackle a Theme


Making a Short Documentary


Lesson Info

Use Visual Language to Tackle a Theme

We wanted to share something that was gonna be a little taste. That would fast forward to the present day since sandwich generation is now older. We've been doing a project now for three years called Newest Americans. Looking at immigration and identity. We're just gonna show you a two minute trailer because we have done, in the last three years I haven't even counted how many stories how many films we've created. But we publish an online magazine three times a year, called Newest Americans. We partner with Rutgers University, Newark which is named the most diverse campus in the United States, every year, by US News and World Report since 1997, I believe. We partner up with Rutgers, Newark and we tell stories that emanate out of Newark in some way, shape or form. Get a little taste. Some are in Newark. Some might have a musician who came from Newark and is now out in the world performing and that sort of thing. I would like you to just watch. Again, this is a trailer as apposed to a fu...

ll on story. You're gonna get a little dim sum of stories. I'd like you to also look at the visual language because we have been working across media. It's also entirely different visually than the sandwich generation. You're gonna see where we are now with our visual language. Media formats. We've been experimenting with everything from graphic novels, to stills, to video. This will come up over and over again story versus issues. We didn't really talk a lot about that with sandwich generation but I'm sure it resonates in hindsight. And then, pacing. This is a trailer. It's way more wiz-bang. It's a good juxtaposition to what you just watched in the sandwich generation. All right. Okay. We're in the shadows of New York. The thing with the Newark scene is there's so much good talent it just needs to be recognized. (violin music) (glass cutting) I'm an immigrant. I'm an artist, an organizer, and an instigator. A lot of their parents don't have cars. They don't have phones. They don't have all these basic things. (boxing jargon) I am my homeland, and my homeland is me. My love for you is fire in my heart when am I going to see you free? Every time I've said I'm going to stop, I can't. ♪ (singing in foreign language) ♪ (violin music) Whenever somebody uses the word illegal they're actively dehumanizing a person. Newark was a place of entry. If you come from some place else you're gonna stop in Newark first. For most of my childhood my father was all over the world traveling, speaking, writing poetry, doing plays. Their grandson is now the mayor of the city. (violin music) My family is from Pakistan. Egypt. Puerto Rico. India. Nepal. I'm the first one in the family to be born in America. (energetic violin music) Makes you wanna go to Newark, right? (laughs) Obviously, a far cry from the sandwich generation but you can see that visually there's all of this incredible camera movement lots of very crisp imagery. There's some drone footage. You name it, we got it all going on in that trailer. Character driven. Every single story we tell is character driven. Even in that little sampler you met a lot of different people and you heard individual voices. You need that human touch. I don't care if you're talking about pollution in the Passaic river. We did a piece about the river keeper. You have a human who gets to take you on this journey so that you can connect. Infinite options for tackling a theme. Honestly, there is no right way or wrong way to do any of this. You could almost pull it out of a hat and say, "Okay, I'm gonna try this." And then, in some way that limitation will give you incredible creative license to explore. We experiment all the time. With this project, we've done everything from an interactive story about a mural where you get to go off on these off-shoots where you can here the artist talk about their work. Or, you can take the drive the length of the mural. You can experiment. The more you experiment, the more you keep it interesting. Ed and I are both really big at breaking down the rules. Ed, more than I. (laughs) He's a total rule breaker, if you haven't gotten that. You clean it up, right? (laughs) Visual experimentation. Keep it fresh, keep it personal. We're all trying to find our style. You can learn something in a text book and say, "You can't break the wall." That kind of thing, where it's like, no, sometimes you gotta do that. People are very sophisticated visually now. They forgive a lot and they're very sophisticated. Play around. Partnerships and collaboration, equals opportunity. We collaborate with probably 30, different people on this project. We have faculty at Rutgers, Newark who have expertise in subjects we know nothing about. We have students who get involved. We have students who pitch stories and we end up collaborating with the students to then bring it to fruition. Partnerships really open up a lot of doors. You don't have to do this in isolation. It's created, for us, opportunity that's financial. It's created opportunity in terms of being able to tell a much bigger stories, than we could've otherwise. And, to grow constantly.

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.