Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Doc Challenge: Notes for Next Year

Last year, as soon as we finished our film for the International Documentary Challenge I wrote up a few notes for the 2009 Challenge. You can read the full post here but the three main points were:

1. Finish shooting on Thursday.

2. Team Technical Practice

3. Lighting Gear

Were we able to apply these three ideas?

Well, no. Our last taping session -- and the one that was most important to the edit -- didn't finish until late Saturday afternoon, which meant I didn't get everything logged and captured until about 11 p.m. Saturday. We did no practice before the shoot -- getting by with email communication and one brunch meeting. We did have slightly better lighting gear -- we used a set of lights meant for shooting stills, but not a kit really meant for video. But no video lights or softboxes or anything with plenty of power. We did use a good foldable reflector, though.

So those three recommendations stand, and here are three new ones:

4. Make our kit more transportable. We lugged multiple heavy bags both across town and up five flights of stairs. We should find a way to consolidate our gear and put everything in reasonable rolling cases.

5. We should dedicate a person to the job of sound. We did fine, but made mistakes that cost us time. A person who was thinking only of sound and working to reduce post-production requirements would help a lot.

6. Make a shot list. We shot plenty of material, but at the end of our editing process there was a moment when we realized we hadn't treated enough as a location shoot -- we didn't grab a number of shots you normally would on a verite shoot. We were focused on what we "needed" and didn't get everything as it unfolded.

Great. Now I just need to write four more tips after next year's event and I'll have a full list...

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