Download The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making PDF

TitleThe Art of Nonfiction Movie Making
PublisherPraeger
ISBN 139780275992255
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size3.3 MB
Total Pages264
Table of Contents
                            Title
Copyright
Contents
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part One: Development
	1. The Idea
		Where Do Documentary Ideas Come From?
		What Makes a Good Idea for a Documentary?
		Is the Idea Fundable?
		What Are Funders Looking For?
		Is It a Worthy Subject?
		Is the Subject Important?
		Has It Been Done Before?
		Is It a Good Story?
		Are There Strong, Interesting Characters?
		Is There Conflict?
		How Good Is Your Access?
		Are There Strong Visual Elements to Tell the Story?
		Case Study: The Times of Harvey Milk
		Conclusion
	2. Research and Evaluate Your Subject
		Read Everything, Talk to Everyone (within Reason)
		Rights and Licenses
		Case Studies
			Researching a Historical Film: Paragraph 175
			Researching an Archival Film: The Celluloid Closet
				Researching Storytellers
				Archival Research
			Researching an Observational Film: Crime & Punishment
			Researching an Essay Film: Where Are We?
			Using Research to Determine the Form: Common Threads
		Conclusion
	3. Make Your Case: From Story to Proposal
		Define the Story
		Find the Story Arc
		Write Your Film
		Define the Storytelling Elements
		Storytelling Tools
			"Objective" Elements
			"Subjective" Elements
			"Directorial" Elements
				Narration
				On-Screen Text
				Reenactments
				Music
		The Proposal
			Case Study: Paragraph 175
			Case Study: Where Are We?
		Outreach/Distribution Plan
		Conclusion
	4. The Treatment
		Case Study: Common Threads
		Case Study: The Celluloid Closet
		Case Study: Paragraph 175
		Case Study: Taking HOWL from Documentary Treatment to Nonfiction Feature Screenplay
		Conclusion
	5. Development Materials: The Budget and Sample Reel
		Production Schedule
		Case Study: Filming Common Threads
		Budget
		Budget Notes
		Create a Sample Reel
			Work with What You Have, Play to Your Strengths
			Case Study: The Sample Reel as a Creative Tool for The Celluloid Closet
		Conclusion
Part Two: Preproduction
	6. Financing
		Development Funding versus Production Funding
		Foundations
		Broadcast Partners
		Sales
		Presales
		Coproductions
		International Opportunities
		Pitch Markets
		Individual Donors
		Targeted Fundraising Campaigns
		Fundraising Events
		Cocktail Parties
		Individual Supporters
		Individual Contributions
		Investors
		Conclusion
	7. Casting the Nonfiction Film
		Casting Criteria
		How Do They Fit In?
		Can They Tell a Good Story?
		Casting Historians and Other Experts
		Screen Presence
		Preinterviews
		Case Studies
			Casting an Interview-Driven Documentary: Common Threads
			Casting a Vérité Documentary: Crime & Punishment
		Pitfalls and Obstacles
			Reluctant Storytellers: Paragraph 175
			Celebrity Storytellers: The Celluloid Closet
		Casting Actors for a Nonfiction Movie: HOWL
		Casting Tools
		Conclusion
	8. Legal Headaches: Releases, Rights, and Licenses
		Personal Releases
		Story Rights
		Book and Magazine Rights
		Music Rights
		Footage and Photo Rights
		Fair Use
		Errors and Omissions Insurance
		Case Study: Licensing Clips for The Celluloid Closet
		Conclusion
Part Three: Production
	9. Assemble a Team
		The Chain of Command
		Producers
		The Creative Team
			Camera
				Individual Supporters
			Sound
			Editor
			Additional Crew
		Making Deals
		The Business Team
			Get a Lawyer!
			Accounting: The Bookkeeper
			Accounting: The Accountant
		Do-It-Yourself Filmmaking
		Conclusion
	10. Directing Documentaries
		Directing Observational Scenes
		Case Study: Unexpected Observational Scenes in Paragraph 175
		The Art of Film Interviewing
		The Setup and Stylistic Choices
		Preparation and Spontaneity
		Knowing When to Call "Cut"
		Conclusion
Part Four: Postproduction
	11. Editing
		The Editing Process
		Screening Dailies, Making Selects
		The Outline or "Paper Cut"
		First Assembly
		Rough Cut
		Defining the Style
		The Art of Narration
			Narration Case Study: Paragraph 175
				Early Version
				Second Version
				Final Version
			Narration Case Study: The Celluloid Closet
		Screening the Rough Cut
		Fine Cut
		Final Music and Narration
		Locking Picture and Final Touches
		Editing Case Study: Common Threads
			First Assembly
			Rough Cut
			Fine Cut
		Conclusion
	12. Launch Your Film
		Film Festivals
			Case Study: What Worked and What Didn't with The Times of Harvey Milk
			Sundance and Beyond
		Educational Distribution
		The Small—and Smaller—Screen
		Conclusion
Appendix 1 Sample On-Camera Release
Appendix 2 Sample Deal Memo
Appendix 3 The Pink Triangle
Appendix 4 HOWL Treatment and Script Excerpts
Filmography
Notes
Index
	A
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	I
	J
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	Q
	R
	S
	T
	U
	V
	W
	X
	Z
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 132

Sometimes the digressions turn out to be more interesting than the story.
Often they are simply distractions.

If you ask a potential interview subject to tell you about his wedding and
he begins by trying to remember the exact date, month, and year, then fol-
lows with a list of the guests, their relationship to the bride and groom, where
they came from, and how they got there, but he never gets around to describ-
ing the ceremony or how he was feeling—either you’ve phrased the question
wrong, or he’s not the right person to talk to.

Sometimes people go to the other extreme, giving monosyllabic responses
to questions. This might indicate cultural or social barriers you’ll need to
overcome—such as being in a society where women speak freely only when
men aren’t around—before this person opens up to you, or it could be that
she is simply taciturn. Sometimes you, the filmmaker, may represent a class
or a nation that has oppressed a potential character’s culture or society, in
which case you’ll need to spend time with this person and his community to
establish trust. In most situations and for most documentaries, however, an
initial meeting, a casual chat over coffee, or even a phone conversation can
tell you a lot about how good a storyteller someone is.

CASTING HISTORIANS AND OTHER EXPERTS

How do you find out which experts will likely be good on camera—in
other words, how do you audition them—without being blatant about it
and without going to the expense of meeting them all in person? How do
you avoid being in the awkward situation of finally getting access to a
world-renowned expert only to discover that he speaks in a rapid, low mono-
tone with no facial expression whatsoever? Here the Internet can come to the
rescue. See if the people on your list of possibilities are on YouTube, C-Span
Book TV, or FORA.TV, a website specializing in public policy speeches and
panel discussions. If they’re associated with a university or think tank, their
institution’s website might list public appearances. They might have their
own personal websites.

If your experts pass the online speaker test, don’t rely on that alone.
Depending on how accessible an expert is, try to have an extended phone
conversation with her, and ask for permission to record the conversation
for your research. This way you’ll be able to have a free-ranging conversation
with her without having to remember everything she said or worry about
your next question. And of course recording the conversation (with her per-
mission) allows you to share it with your filmmaking partners.

Casting the Nonfiction Film 109

Page 264

About the Authors

Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein have been making films together since
1987, starting with Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, which won
the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature (1989). This was Epstein’s second
Oscar, having previously won for The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). Their
other collaborations include The Celluloid Closet (directing Emmy, 1996),
Paragraph 175 (Sundance directing award, 2000), HOWL (2010), and
Lovelace (2012).

Epstein is the recipient of the Pioneer Award from the International
Documentary Association. He has taught in the graduate film program at
NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts and is a professor in the Film Program at
California College of the Arts (CCA). Friedman has taught in the graduate
documentary program at Stanford University and at CCA. They are members
of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, where Epstein has served on the Board of Governors represent-
ing the documentary branch. They are partners in Telling Pictures, an
international film and television production company based in San Francisco.

Sharon Wood’s writing credits include the Academy Award-nominated fea-
ture documentaries Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American
Press and Super Chief: The Life and Legacy of Earl Warren, as well as
Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper. Wood collaborated with Epstein and
Friedman on The Celluloid Closet and Paragraph 175. In recent years, she
has written and produced a number of historical documentaries for
Lucasfilm, culminating in 2011 with Manifest Destiny, a three-part series on
U.S. foreign policy.

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