Adrian Ardelean

Journal

Day 3 - Documentary Film-making

Since i started my career into film-making, i always thought i would go into directing more than anything else. But the years have passed and i grew more and more fond of documentary film-making. 

I love creating fiction stories, but there is something about the art of documentary. Helping people tell their stories is something that helps me discover not only the art form but also myself. I have met so many inspiring artists in different fields. 

I thought i would share my thoughts on what i have learned so far from trying too many methods and basically help you young film-makers out there. These are my top 5 things to do before and after a documentary shoot

  • Establish a relationship with the subject.

This is a luxury in some cases as it depends on the subject's status. If you are doing a documentary on celebrities (or any specialists in any field) then you will not really be allowed to have more than probably one two hours to interview, so you need to use that time as well to craft your questions to basically get some good answers. 

  • Scout the location where you are going to shoot.

Sometimes you won't really get to see the location until you are there, but if possible, take some time to get a look at the location before you get start filming so you can plan your shots. 

  • Shoot interview first.

I can't express how much time could have been saved if i would have done the interview before i took the b-roll. So here is what i would suggest, make sure you film the interview first, listen to it create your story and then shoot the b-roll on a different day to actually capture and tell the story better, visually. 

  • Make sure your story make sense

I always try to break my story down to the simplest narrative structure and that is beginning, middle and end (or establishing, struggle, conclusion). 

  • Sound is very important, but the getting the story is even more crucial

I always look at some videos and i'm mesmerised by the sound quality, the crisp voice without ambient or hums. Now this is probably done by either someone that is really good at sound recording or it is done in a recording studio and if you don't have that luxury then you'll just have to work with what you've got. I always use a lav mic for my interviews and in the early stages of my career i was always bummed out because of the quality, but then a good friend of mine told me that every room and every environment is different so everyone will sound different and what matters is the individual's story, as that will captivate the audience and also if you have that ambient noise, it brings the viewer closer to the subject and makes it real.

I hope all of these tips help you in your documentary journey.