The Introduction To Moviemaking Clinic

I continue to get requests from friends about how to make better videos. So I decided to pull together some of the stuff that’s influenced my attempts as I’ve started to learn the craft over the past couple years.

Mitch has done well over a thousand videos on gopro, iphone, being deaf and other topics. This one shows two things. First, it shows his standard opening. 15 seconds is pretty long, but because there is so much going on, it works. Second, at the end he provides links to other videos. Keep this potential in mind when you’re shooting. It’s pretty easy to add in post.

Here’s another one of mine. This is a 10 minute mini-doc about a fly-in last summer. You’ll notice there are 3 different people interviewed in this. I like the style of interviewing people, then removing me asking the questions and just using the answers along with supporting footage, so I emulated that. All the interviews were done using a small Tascam digital recorder. That was among the best $100 I’ve spent.

Shoot like a photographer. Don’t shoot like a tourist with a point and shoot. Even if you don’t know where you might use the clip, if the conditions are right, plan the shot and execute it. I still don’t know where this one is going to end up, but I love the way it turned out.

Ok, time for some edgy stuff. Die Antwoord has been my favorite band for a few years. Partly because their music is so different, but also because their videos are incredibly well executed. Ninja and Yolandi are artists from South Africa and in a Bowie like pattern have adopted the rap personas you’ll see in these videos.

First: This one has great use of color. Better tools allow for better control over this aspect. Notice the three different main themes and then how two of them become combined in the final shots. In particular, the usage of the gritty polluted yellow at the beginning adds a lot to the mood of the storytelling there.

Second: This video is a great example of shooting video like a photographer. Roger Ballen is a south african photographer and friend of the band, so they collaborated on this video:

You can immediately see his influence by looking at his stills.

Pacing matters. This is probably the thing I struggle with the most transitioning from stills to video. Videos like this show how pacing can have a huge impact on the mood of the entire piece.

This is pretty recent, I can’t show you examples in my work yet, but it’s influencing my thoughts for sure. Great quote: “the emotional content of a scene comes more from proper editing technique than it does from the performance of the actor.”

Speaking of learning from the masters. The Third Man is one of the great movies of all time. Check it out if you haven’t already (and it uses leitmotif, which is referenced above).

You have to watch the whole movie to get there, but the ferris wheel scene from the 77th – 88th minute is one of my favorites of all time. Good film making *and* a sadly timeless political statement. “You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?”

Want to see how not to edit a movie?

Vice does some surprisingly good stuff occasionally – given their posture of trying to be gonzo. This is a great documentary. Again, pay attention to pacing and how it reinforces the isolation story. Also notice the leitmotif, which is also used in the crop dusting video, of using the radio to increase the sense of isolation or remoteness. In both cases, the audio selected was news and information to show that the subjects where some distance away from civilization.

Of course there are a million examples to choose from, but that’s enough to get you started thinking about some of this stuff!

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