Several days before, Peter Biesterfeld, program coordinator for Documentary Production, asked the class for participants to help film this event. I eagerly volunteered my time so I could gain film experience and support this significant event. I knew I wanted to shoot meaningful footage to best share this story.
I was thankful to work with Peter and Helena that morning, as this was my first time filming live footage outside of class. This fast paced, unpredictable environment made for a great learning experience.
Here I discovered valuable tricks for storytelling, filming, and shooting.
First – Find main character(s)!
As Peter reiterated constantly – when filming a doc you need to follow a good story! Peter found a behind-the-scenes Greenpeace organizer to film before the event, during the event, and after the end. This will help connect the audience to the film.
Nothing is more distracting than bad filming. Here’s my list of don’ts when it comes to shooting.
Despite what you may think, you actually capture less this way! More information is given by focusing on key images. Freeze on posters, faces, and speakers for at least 10 to 15 seconds.
Don’t be scared to get close.
Get as close as you can… and then get closer. Zooming in from far away handheld is bound to look shaky.
Don’t move the wires on the mic too much.
These guys pick up everything! Sorry Peter!
Don’t forget to correct exposure manually.
An easy trick is to use your hand and check for zebra lines. Change iris setting until only a few zebra lines show up.
Here are tips on some good habits to start practicing now:
Get names and positions from interviewees at the start of the interview. Which brings me to my next point.
Bring paper, pens, extra tapes, and WATER!
These should always be in your bag when you head out to shoot. Monday was super hot and sunny and I was dying of thirst just as the protesters began jumping over the first fence. Water is not what you want to be worrying about.
Do your research and keep your eyes on the action.
Being aware of the important players is crucial to taking advantage of your situation. Knowing where to find the important players is critical. I got lucky and spotted Elizabeth May, leader of the green party, briefly in the crowd and ran over with Helena to capture some of her interview. That was a major highlight for me.
Finally, be confident.
The hardest part of my day was having the guts to get in people’s faces. I’m sure this will get easier over time, especially when I see how much better close up footage is.
At the end of the day have fun. Be happy to know you are doing something you love and giving voices to meaningful, educational, and/or entertaining messages.