- Part ONE – Ideas
Section One – Rational
I would say that the achievements that I am most proud of since starting this course is the FMP last year and corporate video I did for Exeter Skirmish. The things I was most proud of in the FMP is the extensive research I did before we started filming. I looked into costumes, locations and existing films.
I learned a lot about cinematography and editing from my FMP. I put that practice into making my corporate video which turned out really well.
This learning process has influenced my choice of my final project because it I feel I’ve developed the cinematography type for interviews and documentaries.
Section Two – Project Concept
The aim of my project is to produce a gripping and interesting documentary about the history of the band Slim Pickings. My aim is to tell the story of the band and issues that they had to overcome to become the band they are today. I will also try to give an inside look into what it is like to be a part of a local band and what they have to think about when preparing for gigs and practices. I will research into an existing documentary which is called ‘Sound City’ which is produced by the lead guitarist and singer of Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl. I will look into the types of shots used for interviews and establishing shots. I am also going to look into the editing style. Looking into this documentary will affect the way I develop my ideas because I am going to try to replicate the style as much as possible. I plan to plan to produce a 10-15 minute documentary which will be primarily run by the interviews telling the story. I plan to have the narration running through the entire documentary to tell the story of the band. This will be the main narrative storyline,. The archive footage and gig footage will simply be included to aid the story to be more understandable and interesting. I will use the same equipment I used for my FMP last year which is my Canon 600d with a Helios 50mm lens and a Rode VideoMic.
Section Three – Evaluation
I will conduct test shots before I start filming the documentary to see what will work out best. This way I can evaluate my work as I go along. At the end I will evaluate what went well and what didn’t go so well and I will also ask my peers to look at my final piece and do constructive criticism. I will write a journal to keep track of any ideas that change.
Section Four – Production Schedule
Section Five – Research Sources/Bibliography
 BBFC (no date) About The BBFC. Available at: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-bbfc (Accessed: 17 March 2017)
 Ellis, A. (2017). Slim Pickings Live At The Volunteer. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCZwVMIOD1Y [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
 Grohl, D., Monroe, M., Reznor, T., Petty, T. and Fleetwood, M. (2017). Sound City (2013). [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2306745/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
 Mediacollege.com. (2017). Interview Framing. [online] Available at: http://www.mediacollege.com/video/interviews/framing.html [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
 Sound City Soundtrack (feat. Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen, et al) – From Can to Can’t. (2013). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n75NvVHQV4M [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
 YouTube. (2017). Senna – Official UK Trailer. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOQLeqRcgKc [Accessed 3 Mar. 2017].
 Thefamouspeople.com. (2017). Who is Dave Grohl? Everything You Need to Know. [online] Available at: http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/dave-grohl-3415.php#A5G7u9zRxZYmR0cd.99 [Accessed 13 Mar. 2017].
09/02/2017 – Week 1
In this week I have completed the practitioner research on Dave Grohl. some background research on Dave Grohl as he is not well known for film industry roles as he gained his fame through music in 1987 as the drummer for Nirvana. Sound City was his first film production which went exceedingly well and got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I then went on to look at the awards he has won. He may not have produced any films but he has been involved in many films for his music. Much of his participation is through films using his the Foo Fighters music.
I have also started looking at competition. This process is taking longer than expected as it requires me to watch many different videos which are sometimes up to 20 minutes long. I have chosen one video which is the Jon Bellion – The Making of Guillotine (Behind The Scenes) and have very briefly started to expand on how it will relate to my project.
Week 2 – 16/02/2017
I have completed my competition research and found another video since last week. The video was about a beat boxer called Dub FX. For the Jon Bellion video I found that it helped me to find out about the observational mode of documentary. This has appealed to me and has inspired to me to involve this into my project along side interviews. The Dub FX video had a very budget feel to start with as it was very simplistic and was very to the point. I am now deciding on if I should start my documentary with a simple opening or have cinematic shots with sound emphasis to give it an atmospheric feel.
I am now nearing completion of the Target Audience and have figured that most people will be interested in watching a documentary about a local band. The results came back saying people would prefer a longer documentary as opposed to a shorter one so I have decided to make 2 cuts. 1 will be the project piece and the other will be a separate video outside of college.
Week 3 – 23/02/2017
I have now completed target audience and got some interesting results from my primary research. I also conducted some test shots earlier in the week which I have learned a few vital factors from. One this was that shooting the subject very slightly over-exposed and then reducing exposure in post-production to reduce grain significantly and improves the quality of the video. I also learned that shooting in front of a window and lighting the subject well gives the video a very interesting look. The lighting on the inside matches the outside to regulate the exposures. This makes the picture more interesting because there is more to look at.
I have looked into modes of documentary and decided on what I want my documentary to be. I have decided for most of the documentary to be observational as that is the style I feel reflects the content best as it keeps it undisturbed. Then I’ve decided for the remainder of the documentary it will be similar to expository mode which is ‘The Voice of God’.
For legal and ethical issues I looked into copyright. I figured I am able to use the bands music which will be copyright free. Any other music I need for atmospheric effect can be found on SoundCloud and YouTube.
I have looked into the BBFC to see what guidelines I should follow to get a rating that would allow my target audience to view the documentary. I found that infrequent strong language will get me a PG rating which is what I was aiming for. The language may come from song lyrics or interviews.
I made a video about equipment as I found that would be much easier to show what I had as opposed to trying to explain it on a blog. It also made the blog less dull and it was more exciting for me to make a video as opposed to typing for an hour.
I have just completed the research evaluation. For this I wrote a summary of each section of research. The research has come in handy as it has shown me a lot of different things I can try to do with my project and it has also helped me expand my idea.
I am now currently working on my presentation for the pitch tomorrow.
Pitch Day – 24/02/2017
I have just delivered my pitch and it went much better than I had originally had expected. I was able to expand on all the points very well which resulted in my pitch being around 20 minutes long. I will get the teacher evaluation from will later on today and put it below.
I have been continuing with pre-prod and have come across a few problems including not being able to complete certain documents including storyboards and full scripts. This is because I do not know what the interviewees are going to say or do which makes it inaccurate. Though as a replacement for the script I have questions written in the order I will be asking them.
This week I have been looking into more depth about the target audience. I looked into a more localised audience within Devon. The reason for this is because the band is based in Devon and many of their followers on social medias including Facebook are Devon based. The reason I want to look into these audiences is because I believe they will be the majority of who will view the documentary. I have conformed with Andy that the video will be published to their Facebook page and ReverbNation profile. I have also been to a performance they played at Bradfords in Honiton. I filmed the entire set and have now stored the footage on my laptop and an external hard drive.
This week I have had a meeting with Andy who is the lead guitarist of the band and he is also the owner of the location I am filming the interviews. I have also completed pre-production. The only things I haven’t completed is location release and contributor consent form. I have done the work on related topics and ideas the technical requirements and I also carried out test shots and a test edit. I used an original song from the band and tested different transitions. I filmed musical items with a 50mm lens and then colour graded them in post to find out what kind of colours I want my documentary to include. I have prepared my pitch for pre-production and test shots which just includes showing my test shots in class to my teacher and peers.
At the end of last week I showed my pre-production to my lecturer and they confirmed that I had all the documents I needed with the exception of location release forms and contributor agreement forms which I will do on the day of filming the interviews. I showed my test shots to my lecturer and my peers and I got good feedback about the use of music and the pacing of the edit. The edit contained only cinematic shots alongside an original song made by The Prospects. I did this as an experiment to ensure that if I was to upload the song to YouTube then I wouldn’t get a copyright strike. I uploaded the video as an unlisted video so I could add it to my blog. This means that only people with the link can view the video.
This is the video:
During the Easter break I went to another gig with the band at The Volunteer in Honiton where I recorded the whole set again. They played many of the same songs they played at Bradfords and I put the same songs from different gigs together in video editing software and found that the tempo from the songs match up. This means I have some possibilities for interesting transitions. I will look further into this nearer to the final edit.
This week I have been preparing all the clips I have currently of the band and archive footage the band members have kindly sent me links to on OneDrive. I now have over 80 clips that I had to sort through and decide what I can do with it.
This process took over the majority of the week and has allowed me to make a structure of what I would like the final documentary’s sense and aroma to be like. I also spent the last section of the week sorting all the files including pre-production, video files and audio files into neat folders so that when it comes to the final edit, I can just import the folders straight into the edit and know exactly where everything is already.
This week I have simply been preparing for the interviews so that I can ensure everything will run smoothly. I have done this by reaching out to the band members and the crew members and confirming they are still scheduled for the filming date which is tomorrow. I have picked up an audio pack form the college which includes a tie clip microphone and a Zoom handheld pre-amp. These are the only accessories I will need for sound. My sound manager (Archie Fawcett) is also bringing a Rode VideoMic Pro which we will use as a backup microphone in the event that the recording isn’t flawless.
The interviews went very well and I now how over 3 hours of collaborated footage between the first camera and second camera. Although, unfortunately the first interviews audio was ineffective as the tie clip didn’t start working until the last 6 minutes of a 30 minute interview… However, all is not lost as the interviewee was willing to do the interview again for the sake of all the interviews audio having the same audio quality. So we did the second day if filming the interview on Wednesday with the same equipment and took out many checks as a precaution to ensure the audio was right this time around.
Between and after filming dates I have been lining up audio from the external recorder to the first and second camera so that they were all lined up. I put each interview into separate sequences and then dragged the individual sequences into a master sequence where I lined up the questions between all the interviews. This means that if I was to press play, they would all answer the same question at the same time. This helped me to choose the answers for the final sequence.
I started off this week colour grading individual sequences to match one another. I did this so that the transitions between interviews wouldn’t seem abnormal because of the different colour schemes. For example:
This shot is in a part of the documentary which contains emotion. For that reason I decided to make the image slightly warmer and also soften out the harsher edges. All the interviews now match the same colours as displayed above.
I have dedicated all my time to editing since the last journal entry and I am fairly happy with how far the production has come in a week. I showed my rough cut to some peers and my lecturer and they gave me some very significant feedback.
I instantly started working on the audio levels as they sounded fine through speakers at home but until I had played them through speakers in college, I was unaware that the audio levels varied so dramatically. Once I fixed that, I started working on the gaps in narrative. The way I resolved this is by going through my mums old photo box and scanning some photos to fill gaps in the narrative. This has also made the video more visually interesting. I’ve also inserted more cutaways to even out the amount of interview time to the b-roll.
This week I have dedicated to the edit and ensuring that everything is polished and exactly what I want my documentary to look and feel like. This includes background sound levels and colour grading.
I can happily say that on the 24th I have completed my edit and I am excited to publish it for the band and the public to see.
Today on the 25th, I am dedicating to my evaluation.
PART TWO – Research
Practitioner – Dave Grohl – Director
Dave Grohl is the lead guitarist and vocalist of the Foo Fighters. He also directed a documentary called Sound City. He gained his fame playing drums for the revolutionary band Nirvana.
The reason I’m looking at Dave for my practitioner is because my aim is to create something with a similar style to the documentary he directed called Sound City. I want to create something similar because I like the cinematography style and the narrative.
“Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters front-man, will always be remembered as the drummer for Nirvana. But, drumming for a great band such as Nirvana is not Dave’s only claim in the world of music. Dave’s musical career began at age 15 as the guitarist and later as the drummer for a punk band called “Freak Baby”. A year later, he was behind the drums for “Mission Impossible” and later that summer drumming for “Dain Bramage”. Another year down the road, an opportunity to drum with one of his favourite punk bands, “Scream”, was just too great to pass up. This leads us to 1990 when “Scream” seemed to be coming to an end and “Nirvana” was in need of a drummer. While recording and touring with “Nirvana”, Dave continued to write lyrics and music that he would record during breaks with “Nirvana”. After the tragic end of “Nirvana”, Dave eventually turned to his music to create Foo Fighters. While playing guitar and singing with Foo Fighters is his main job, you can also find Dave channelling his musical genius throughout the world of rock. Dave has drummed for “Queens Of The Stone Age” and “Killing Joke”. He has also recorded and guest performed with his buddies “Tenacious D”. All the while recording for his own hardcore project, “Probot”.” 
Jon Bellion – The Making Of Guillotine
This is a behind the scenes of a song made by Jon Bellion. This is very similar to what I am planning to have as a section of my documentary. This is in the style of the camera man being a ‘fly on the wall’ in a sense. This gives the effect of an undisturbed atmosphere within the recording studio. I want to show the in-depth process of how songs are made and recorded. The band has their own practice studio which they wire up into a mixer so they can record the entire thing. My aim of this section will be to show how live sessions are recorded and how there is more to just the final product. The cinematography style is also something I want to try to replicate. The way style of editing is well timed. The video doesn’t stay in one place for too long and keeps it interesting. The overall editing style is something that interests me because it has this almost raw feel to it to help the viewer focus on the actual content rather than the visual effects.
There are a few things I like about this documentary in particular because of its style and the way the narrative is unravelled in such a short time. I like this because the video seems as though it was made with budget in mind. This ties in well with the story of the artist as it all starts from small beginnings and they kept that effects all though which I thought was a nice feature. I hope to create something similar as I am working with a similar budget. As you can see the video is short for a documentary but they made it in such a way that its kept interesting which is something I am going to aim to do with my documentary. I will try to tell the entire story of Slim Pickings in as little time as possible but I will be careful not to go too fast and miss information that may be important to understand another part of the story.
I am aiming for a similar target audience to Sound City. I think I will be able to achieve this because the members involved in the film are very similar to those in Sound City. Generalised demographic audiences for Sound City would be the B class through to segments of E class. Reasons for this are because teachers such as creative media teachers may be interested due to personality but they may also like the documentary because it is something they could use as a learning tool. Middle management roles tend to be those of the older generation. The reason sound city may appeal to them as it is historically based around what may be their youth. This may make the documentary have a nostalgic effect for these people. Those that fall into the E section, like students and casual workers, may enjoy the documentary because the type of humour the interviewees portray throughout the entire production is rather comedic and they explain how they used to be slightly rebellious during the making of the albums made in the studio.
Generalised psychographics audiences are based on the classification of their attitudes aspirations and other psychological criteria. The classification groups that Sound City has and I aim to reach in my documentary is mainstreamers, aspirers and explorers. The reason I think my documentary will appeal to mainstreamers is because I am trying to make it so that is seems very user-friendly and people will feel comfortable watching it in their homes. I think my documentary will appeal to aspirers in general because the documentary will show how the band started out to where they are today which can be seen as inspiration for these types of audiences. The reason sound city and my documentary will appeal to explorers is because sound city and my documentary is all about a journey from start to present day. This works well with following a journey because the generalised category of explorers seek discovery and values adventure.
Things I can take from this research are:
- Over half of the people who took the survey are between the ages of 16-21. I also have had some people from different age groups which will give me a broader range of results.
- 85.72% of the people who took the survey watch documentaries whether it be regularly or not.
- Over half the people were male which is what the documentary’s audience is more likely to be.
- My audience may prefer longer documentaries as opposed to shorter documentaries so I have decided I will make 2 versions. the shorter version will be for the project and a longer version (around 15-20 minutes) will be made separately.
- So it turns out that the majority of the people from my survey prefer music documentaries to other forms of genres.
- 100% of the people who took the survey would be interested in watching a documentary about a local band which is a good thing for me because it shows my idea can be successful with different audiences.
- Expository Mode (Voice Of God)
- Poetic Mode (Creative Expression)
- Observational mode (Fly on the Wall)
- Participatory mode (Film Maker On Screen )
- Performative mode (Documentary is about the film maker)
Expository Mode is also known as ‘Voice of God’. This is where the narration has a relation with the video being played. This is commonly related with a typical David Attenborough documentary.
Poetic Mode is a very subjective mode of documentary and doesn’t develop very much on events or characters. It is very narrative based. They are shown in a way that doesn’t usually show a character but develops them as an entity or a catalyst of some sort. It is an art of creative expression.
Observational Mode is an attempt to simply observe the life of others and that is the way it is shown. It is simply put into order and is almost untouched. An example of this would be the Jon Bellion behind the scenes video I included earlier.
Participatory Mode is where the person that would usually do the narration steps down from that omniscient role of being the voice of god or pretending they’re a fly on the wall and they join in with the people in the actual documentary. This means the film maker is on screen and interacting with the other actors/people of interest.
Performative Mode is used as a technique to see the world from a different perspective and is made to make the audience feel emotions that the person would have felt. For example if the documentary was about racism then the film maker may decide to focus on a perspective from a person in the black population. If the documentary was about sexism they may choose to take the perspective of a female in New York.
Legal and Ethical Issues
A legal issue I may face would be copyright although there are ways I could easily avoid this. As I am making a documentary on a local band I will be able to use their music in my project. I have permission from them to use it and most of it is not copyrighted content. All content in my documentary will be original in relation to either myself of the band. Any other audio content will be non-copyrighted audio for an atmospheric aid during interviews etc. I can find tracks like this on YouTube and SoundCloud as these platforms support small artists who publish their music free of copyright.
I will have to cautious of my surroundings while filming live gigs. The reason for this is so that I do not film any of the crowd that I do not have permission from. These locations can usually be very busy so I will have to make sure I have all my equipment nearby so its not a hazard to anyone tripping over and hurting themselves. I will also have to make sure no one gets concerned if my bag was left unattended.
With the legalities and ethical issues of the production, my film will be a PG as I feel the documentary will be inspirational to younger children although lyrics and the band members in the interviews may involve language not suitable for children. But other than that, showing the journey of the band should come across as very family friendly.
My main competition, Sound City, has a 15 rating as the BBFC claimed the feature documentary contains strong language. Because of this I am considering that my production will be rated 15. Though if there was strong language, it would not be excessive in the slightest.
The BBFC is the official group to rate films, movies and documentaries before they are released. They also provide to the makers what the factor is that gives it that rating so they have the chance to change it if they wish.
Concepts Related to my Idea
Concepts related to my idea could be any journey related documentary. This could be any genre. It could be a story of how a football player started off in the Sunday leagues and developed into being a star in the premier league or it could be about the life of a leopard that was kept in a zoo since it was born and is now being released into the wild. These relate to my idea because of the concept of following/unravelling the journey from start to finish. Another concept that could relate to my idea is the ‘fly on the wall’ idea. My plan is to follow around the band in a way where some parts of the documentary seem very observational rather than being involved with the events.
Costs and Budget
Canon 600d – £799
Helios 50mm Lens £20
Canon 18-55mm Lens £71
Tripod – £20
Rode Video Mic – £80
LED Panel Lights x2 – £50
Zoom R8 – £200
Behringer ULTRAVOICE XM8500 – £20
Shoulder Rig – £100
I do not have a budget for this project simply because I have accumulated all the equipment over the last 3 years. However, if I was to be hiring out equipment from a company to make a very high budget/professional grade piece then this is how the expenses would break down:
- Camera – If I was to hire out a camera for this project I would go for a RED Dragon. A days rental for this camera would be £209. This is excluding VAT so the price will be £250.80 with a 20% increase. A single day of filming would be all that was required for the interviews so this would be the overall camera hire amount for the project.
- Lens – I would hire out a RED Pro 17-50mm Lens to go with the camera as this combination makes a very clean and crystal clear image and works very well for interviews. I would also only need this or the one day of filming interviews which would amount to £75. This would be the overall amount I would have to spend on lens hire.
- Microphone – For a microphone I would choose a Rode NTG-2 because the quality of this microphone is phenomenal and the prime use for them are interviews which is what I would use it for. Because of this I would only need it for a day. The rental hire is £15 per day but including the 20% VAT it becomes £18 a day.
So this is all I’d need to hire out for the project as I will already have the archive footage of live gigs etc. The total hiring cost would be £343.80.
For this year I shouldn’t require much equipment as I should only need a camera, lenses and a microphone, which I already possess. Audio will come from the band which includes pre-existing recordings like live gigs and studio recordings. As the only planned shoots I am recording are interviews with the band members then all I will need is the essentials for that. Other shoots will only be live sessions and pubs and gigs etc. so that will only be cinematography based which means using my 50mm lens may be best. I will also be able to include some archive footage of the band which will be provided by them and also some online videos (music videos).
I haven’t come across many issues yet in this unit although the one I have come across is that the band don’t have many gigs in the near future that I will be able to attend. This is due to transport either to get there or get back from the gig and also the time of the gigs. These can go up until midnight. Some venues do not allow high production filming and will only allow low budget such as a mobile phone. There may be a solution for this however. The band usually take a Zoom Camera Mic and film as much of their gigs as they can. I could use this footage to fill any spaces I may need.
I think looking at background info about my practitioner had indeed improved my confidence because it shows that Dave Grohl is not a existing film maker but is a musician that knew of a way to show the emotion and in-depth factors about the music industry he was involved in. This has boosted my confidence because I have been involved in music for around 8 years and I feels as though I also know how to express these things through a profession I feel I am rather good at. So linking these 2 things together will hopefully result in something very honourable.
Looking into competition has benefited me because its shown me a good example of the Observational Mode of documentary. This has influenced me to integrate this mode into my documentary as it is a very good way to show the day-in day-out things such as band practice or recording. This means I can continue to film them in an undisturbed state. The Jon Bellion video also showed how effective a observational video can be as they were not using fancy lights or anything on set. They were just filming everything that was going on and they cut and edit it to make the process quick and interesting. The Dub FX video has also benefitted me as it showed me a new way to introduce a documentary. It was a simple introduction where the artist just set up the camera and introduced himself in the way he knows best – through music. This means I may be able to use a similar technique to reflect the band members and engage the audience with an introduction they may not have seen before. This documentary also showed me a good way to pace the progress of the artist to make sure it’s pace is kept up to keep it interesting but it is not too fast that it is skipping some points that may be essential to understand the full story.
I feel looking into target audience has helped me decide on how to make the documentary to reach the most effective audience and the widest range I possibly could. I have found that looking into the BBFC has definitely helped me to distinguish what I want to include in the documentary and what I would take out. I would keep very strong language out of the edit which would allow for it to be put as a PG rating. The primary research has also benefitted me as I found out that a wide range of audiences would be interested in watching a documentary about a local band.
I have learned a few things from conducting test shots. I learned that a grainy image can appear even in the best of scenarios if you are not using a high budget camera or equipment. I found a way around this though. I found that making the image look as good as possible in camera and then over exposing it very slightly gives me some allowance to drop exposure and play with colour contrast in post-production. This significantly reduced the grain and makes the image look better overall. I also learned that shooting with a subject in front of a window can create a very interesting shot if done right. If you were to shoot a subject in front if a window or light source, the image is usually white-washed and degrades the overall image. Although, if you are to add external lights on the front of the subject, you can put the shutter speed up to regulate the light inside with the light outside. This will also give the video give the video a ‘choppier’ look which is something I like in budget films.
Looking into documentary modes has helped me to decide how I want my project to feel to the viewers. Initially I was going to interact with the band with everything they were doing and ask questions about what they were doing and why. I figured that the start of the documentary will have a observational perspective to it as it is looking through their past and archive footage. It would be unsettling and take away from the story if I was to be very much behind the camera and be the ‘fly on the wall’ in a sense and the completely change it and be very interactive with them towards the end as the story progresses to the present.
Looking into legal and ethical issues has helped me to simply recap on safety precautions during filming and also the publics privacy. It has also helped me to realise that a large portion of the music I will be using will be provide by the band which means I won’t have to worry about copyright as much as I did last year when I made a short film. I can also record my own soundtracks if I cannot find a royalty free track that doesn’t fit what I am looking for. I did this last year before filming to try and set the atmosphere of the film before filming. This has also backed up some things I needed for my target audience as I led me onto looking into the BBFC.
Going through my equipment has helped me to figure out ways to but my equipment to the best uses I could. For example using a 50mm lens to achieve a shallow depth of field in a interview. I also found what the best way to light a scene was and then how to regulate it in post-production to make it look even better.
Going into costs and budgets was just a way for me to see what it would take if I was filming this documentary for a company or as a professional individual film maker. I looked into the equipment I personally like and what would reflect the way I would like a documentary to look if I had all the resources. In all fairness, the price for me to individually make this documentary to a professional standard was not hugely excessive in cost. The total was £343.80 including VAT. Looking at equipment I already has helped me to become certain of what I have and what may need to get.
Outline of concept
My idea is to create a 10 minute documentary based on a local band called Slim Pickings. The aim of the documentary is to give people a look into what it is like to play in a local band and the history of how they are where they are now. This will involve past bands the members have been in and how they came together to form Slim Pickings. The focus of the documentary is to show the history of the band, educate people that may not necessarily know about the industry and to promote the band and give them something to show to clients or put on their Facebook page or website.
My aims of this production was to make a 10 minute documentary about a local band called Slim Pickings. The purpose was to explain the history of the band and members and to also explain how they are in the position they are in now. I wanted to tell the story of Slim Pickings, educate the less knowledgeable about the localised music industry and also something for the band to show their audience and to publicise themselves. I feel I have met the majority of my aims. I think this because the one thing I slightly strayed from is the running time. I stated I wanted a 10 minute running time and the final product (excluding credits) came to 13 minutes and 58 seconds. I believe I fulfilled the aim of explaining the bands history as well as the individuals history as all the interviewees explained key points like how they started music and bands they’ve been in etc. I believe I have helped the less knowledgeable understand I bit more about the localised industry as the band explain how they do everything themselves and explain the simple fact that they are musicians that wanted to learn an instrument, they learnt it and now perform because it’s something they enjoy. I believe that I have also fulfilled the aim of giving the band something to publicise themselves because it shows live recordings and videos of them playing and these will attract venue managers etc. and it will explain everything about the band plus interesting points which will make people want to look into the band more.
I feel I have done a good job at creating something similar to Dave Grohl’s production, Sound City. This is because I have interviewed many people from different backgrounds, I have also complimented the use of the effect of an essentially rushed feel to a slower paced section (which is also evident throughout Sound City). This is because I have the start of the documentary having a short dialogue section explaining a story and it then swiftly moves into a montage with lots of transitions and fast paced music. I also succeeded in telling the story of a group or item from the earliest time possible. Sound City tells a story about a Neve Console back in the 60s. Another similarity between my production and Sound City is that I also had 2 cameras on the subject during the interviews.
I also used old images and archive footage and faded between the visuals of the interviews and the archive images and videos. The narration keeps going through this to tell the audience the story as they see it. Overall there are many similarities between my production and Dave Grohl’s production – Sound City.
I didn’t make many changes during the production at all. The only 2 changes I made was the running time and the equipment used. The Running time was originally meant to be 10 minutes long. The moment I realised it may be difficult to make it that short was when I got through the first interview which was just over half an hour and I remember thinking I’ve still got 3 of these to go. I managed to fit so much information into the first 8 minutes of the documentary but that has obviously come with a rather large sacrifice. This means I still have at least 2 hours of unused but usable footage. The running time became 13 minutes because I was aiming to make the end of the documentary emotional. When I started editing that piece I quickly realised that this part could not be rushed and crammed into a less than 2 minute slot. I spoke to my lecturer about running time and they said 12- 13 minutes would be okay. So I decided I would sacrifice running time for emotional effect which to me was a great decision because I believe it has had a great effect.
The other change I had was equipment. This is because I was originally going to use 2 Canon 600D cameras and 2 LED Panel Lights for the interviews. My sound manager offered to bring his soft box light which had a dramatic impact of the lighting, in a good way. He also had his hands on a Canon 70D which generates a better image than the Canon 600D due to the extra in camera option and higher grade internal components. We used this as the main camera with an LED panel mounted on top of it and the soft box raised and to the left of the camera.
I believe the finished product will appeal to the target audience because a large section of the audience will be fans/followers of the band. The use of the bands music will supply for their needs as it is something they are guaranteed to be interested in. I used many of their tracks to supply a variety of music and I also included some tracks not many people will have heard so that audience will be able to listen for that.
In my primary research I found out that people are more interested in watching documentaries that are slightly longer (around 15-20 minutes) and my documentary has swayed more to that side in terms of running time. This means more people may be interested in the documentary.
I believe segments of the documentary contain life lessons and motivational outputs which could attract a teacher and then onto student in a music class etc. as they can use this as a tool to interest students in music or simply to motivate.
I think I have succeeded in creating something that will appeal to mainstreamers, aspirers and explorers. The reason I think my documentary appealed to mainstreamers is because I have made a documentary which is very user-friendly and people will feel comfortable watching it in their homes. I think my documentary appeals to aspirers in general because the documentary shows how the band started out to where they are today which can be seen as inspiration for these types of audiences. The reason my documentary appeals to explorers is because it is all about a journey from start to present day. This worked well with following a journey because the generalised category of explorers seek discovery and values adventure.
I believe this production reflects my skills as a filmmaker because is contains an element of everything. It shows camera-work, sound recording, sound mixing and most importantly editing. The camera-work is shown during multiple aspects. One would be during live performances as there is no way to predetermine what the set will be like so I am rather proud of some of the shots I was able to pull of in multiple different venues. Also the use of depth of field is something I feel is an effect I use well through all my projects so this reflects that well. The positioning of the cameras in the interviews was very spot-on as well. I showed Andy from the band the documentary in the making and his response was a very surprised, “woah you made us look well professional, I don’t think I’ve seen skinner (guitarist) look good before.” That feedback confirmed that the shots were well placed.
I believe sound is just as important as the visuals so I worked tirelessly to make my documentary sound the absolute best within my capabilities. Using a tie clip microphone was really the aspect that made me so happy with how the interviews turned out. I also only used songs and audio clips that sounded good to keep up that momentum of good quality sound.
I think editing is a strong point of mine as I organise the project in such a way that I am able to know how to do exactly what I want. I think that the sound mixing between B-roll and interviews is something I couldn’t do better even if I tried. That is what I spent most of my time doing. I think I was able to edit in such a way it trick the audience into not seeing defects like camera positions being different between interviews. I used a technique of putting a clip between interviews as a distraction. I showed this to some friends and they said they hadn’t noticed it.
This is an accurate representation of my skills for the reasons I stated above. I feel I put every ounce of my time and effort into this and I am very, very proud of the outcome!
If I was to do this again, the 2 main things I would do differently is double check everything, including audio. I would have checked the audio was recording before moving onto ding the interview so that I wouldn’t have to go back and try to replicate the exact setup we had a few days before.. Another thing would be to have all the interviewees sat in the exact same posture so that I wasn’t forced to move the camera. I would also bring even more spare batteries as we managed to kill 3 camera batteries in the space of one night. Other than that I believe everything went as planned.
If I had an unlimited budget…
Well first off, every piece of equipment would have a wall plug-in because one thing that couldn’t annoy me more is when you’re watching the battery level decrease. I would rent out the equipment I listed earlier in the budget including the RED Camera and Lens. I would still use the tie clip microphone as I have become a very big fan of those in the making of this project. I would rent out a music studio or lots of musical equipment to have the interviews in. That way the interview scene would match the story very well. An example of this would be Sound City by Dave Ghrol. I would also hire a crew to do individual jobs like lighting, sound management, equipment providers and even hair and make-up because that seems to be what rockstars absolutely love!
Matt Venn – 2017