We spent the morning in New Orleans, talking to Rob (@robprather) and Laura (@laurabergerol) about everything from voodoo to transvaginal ultrasounds (don’t ask). I’d like to apologize to them for being a little bit out of it – the heat in Louisiana just about killed us. You think I’m joking. I don’t even understand how people go about their daily lives in this weather. It’s an issue.
Speaking of issues, Hassan recommended I give you a little behind the scenes info about the process of making an independent documentary. Mostly I can only tell you about the process of making THIS independent documentary, since it doesn’t seem to play by the general rules of making a movie. Have you ever heard the term “guerilla filmmaking?” Follow Friday the Film is definitely that.
Not only are we working with minimal crew and minimal equipment, we’re also moving quickly. We’ll have coffee with someone, then film a quick interview on the sidewalk, then head down the street to meet up with someone in a park. If we’re interviewing you in the next few weeks, THANK YOU for being so flexible. You guys have gone out of your way to accommodate our crazy schedule, which is at the mercy of electrical storms and traffic and crowds at the Grand Canyon and unplanned detours to fortunetellers. (Just that one time, actually.)
When I say we have minimal equipment, I’m not joking. We’re filming on a Canon 7D. If you don’t know what this looks like, Google it. I think you’ll be surprised. Most people expect us to show up like the local news, hauling a big camera, and lights, and a boom. The 7D is small, but it packs a punch. It’s what we filmed the Kickstarter video on, and I think it looks fantastic. For those who want some details, it shoots at 1080p at 24 frames per second, is actually used to film low-budget features and TV shows, and retails for around $1600. (Matt would want me to mention that’s JUST the body, not the lenses. Also, Matt, I promise we’re being careful with it while you’re gone.)
We’re not filming every interview (due to time constraints), but when we do, the most important part is sound. EVERY SOUND GUY WILL TELL YOU THIS A MILLION TIMES. Seriously, don’t get them started on it. It’s been proven that audiences are more sensitive to bad sound than bad picture. If you have grainy footage, but excellent sound, people can still enjoy the film. Nobody wants to strain to hear what’s going on, or have to pick it out of a cacophony of background noise. We’re using one wireless lavalier mic. This clips onto the shirt of the person speaking; the sound is transmitted to the recorder, which is worn by the Production Assistant (usually Hassan, sometimes Evans). This person is wearing headphones connected to the sound recorder as well, and often holding the boom mic. This picks up the same sound as the wireless mic, but gives us the option of using either track when we get to editing.
Are you bored yet?
Filmmaking is a healthy mix of creativity and anal retentive attention to detail. Every place we go, we’re asking ourselves the following questions: Is this public or private property? Is that small child going to start screaming in the middle of the interview and ruin the audio? Is the sun going to come out from behind that cloud and wash out the picture? Is the camera on? (That’s really important, you guys.) It’s exhausting. But also exhilarating. We’re making a movie.
Thanks again to Rob and Laura. Next time we’re in New Orleans, we’ll say hi.