Documentary Storytellling - Notes

- What immediately stood out to me was when Alex said that the hardest part to accept as a filmmaker is when the story that you create has unexpected elements or dimensions that you didn't imagine, and instead of getting rid of them, you might as well embrace them. I thought this insightful because I continue to keep creating stories, I do notice that some people will interpret my story differently than how I initially intended. Sometimes I find it eye opening because it's adding another level to my work that I didn't think of, but sometimes it can be disappointing when my original idea is completely ignored and seen as something else.

- Another thing that stood out to me was when Alex said: "There are different ways to the truth, and different kinds of truth. That's why every filmmaker needs to have a different kind of an approach, a different set of rules. You let the audience in on those rules right off the bat; you signal people. If you do that and you follow those rules, then everything is fine, because then the audience gets comfortable with what you're doing." I think this grabbed my attention because sometimes I can get so caught up in what I want out of the film that I can forget about who the film is actually for...the audience, not me. I have to tell the story the best way I can and make sure the audience stays with me every step of the way, otherwise, what's the point?

- The story you're telling doesn't have to be so black and white. Alex says that melodrama is the right having a conversation with the wrong, but drama is the right having a conversation with the right. In other words, contradictions are great drivers to a story, when a person seems bad but is actually pretty nice and vice versa.

When I prepare for a documentary film specifically, I try to pin down and plan out shots that I definitely need to get first. I may not know their order or impact in the story beforehand, but I know I need to have them recorded. Then I try to figure out shots that I think might be cool or interesting to add, but I don't really have a set plan on when and where to get them. Mostly, if not all of my B-roll is saved for last, that way I can flesh out a story and get B-roll that will actually enhance my story, not just act as fillers. It's important to know the general idea of your story beforehand, but often times I won't figure out the story arc or story structure until I start the process of collecting footage and research.


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© Ciara Cruder  2020