An excellent introduction to film-making from Channel 4
The 10 Commandments of Shooting a Documentary
Do some research and be selective about what you film.
Find people to film who are natural and likeable on camera.
Find stories that will have a beginning, middle and end and give the audience a sense of wanting to know the outcome.
Make sure you do a white balance before recording. White balance tells the digital camera what white is. There are usually three settings: indoor, outdoor and manual. If your image is very blue or too yellow then you need to adjust the white balance.
Make sure people who speak on camera sign a release form. This is a legal requirement.
Use a digital camera that is broadcast quality preferably mini DV. If you can’t get hold of one – use anything you can get your hands. The audience will forgive image quality if the content is good enough.
Label your tapes in a consistent way i.e. Transition Totnes 001. Bare in mind that we will be getting lots of tapes numbered 001 and will need to easily identity where it’s from. I suggest “Transition/place/number.”
Be aware of lighting – try to film with the sun sideways on.
Play around with interesting angles and techniques.
Break the rules for dramatic effect.
The 10 Commandments of Interviewing.
Make sure you have a quiet space – turn off any electrical equipment that may be making noise eg fridges. So that you remember to switch it back on again put you car keys in the fridge.
Use a tripod so that you don’t have to keep holding the camera as you ask your questions.
Make sure you pay attention to the background of the shot and make sure it says something about the person you are filming.
Use the available light as much as possible. You might film near a window so that the light comes across the shot. Use lights if you have them.
Use a separate mic for the interviewee. The camera mic picks up all the sounds in the room so try to avoid this.
Make sure your interviewee is looking off to one side of the camera – towards you rather than looking into the camera. So if they are on the left of the screen they might be looking off to the right and vice versa.
Prepare some questions for the interview. But also be prepared to throw them away and go with what’s actually being said.
Keep reframing the shot during their longer answers so that it’s easier in the edit.
Make sure your interviewee answers the questions with full sentences – including your question in the answer. Eg How old are you? I am 26 years old rather than ‘26’ because in the edit a shot of someone saying ‘26’ won’t make sense.
Shoot lots of footage to cut with the interview.
How to interview: some useful footage from YouTube
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