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Old March 18th, 2009, 09:59 PM   #1
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Capture the passion! - Handheld technique for solo documentary filmmakers

This trick is not for everyone and it's certainly not a standard professional technique, but it has served me well since I began making documentaries as a completely untrained solo amateur filmmaker in 2004.

Documentary Filmmaking Tip - Capture the Passion! on Vimeo

What this technique is NOT:

This is not a way to “catch” your subject off-guard and make them say something incriminating. Do not say, “This is off the record but how do you REALLY feel...”

You are NOT trying to fool your subject. DO NOT attempt to get them to say anything they would not have agreed to say in a formal interview. If they do say something that would be embarrassing to them or anyone else DO NOT USE IT.

At the very end be sure to inform the subject that the camera was rolling the whole time and that they did a great job. They will usually be very pleased with themselves, as long as you didn’t lead them to make any incriminating or derogatory statements.

I have used this technique many times and I have never had anyone feel like I had taken advantage of them when they saw the final video.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 08:42 PM   #2
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Michael,

Thanks for the tips - I'm definitely going to try to perfect this method.

I was interviewing a family recently and I noticed that it's often these "off" moments (in my case, in the car with them changing locations) where I really got to see their passion come out. Your clip was nicely put together - thanks for sharing. :)
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Old March 19th, 2009, 08:58 PM   #3
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Thanks. I've only been doing this for 5 years so I still feel new at it, but the one thing I've learned the hard way is you have to keep that camera running to catch those gems.

Here's another "trick" I do...

When you are finished the interview pretend to shut off the camera, but keep it rolling and keep your lights and mics on.

Let out a big breath and say something like, “Whew, that was great! You really are very knowledgeable about your sport.” (Or whatever the topic was.) If done properly, most of the time the subject will launch into a re-statement of some or all of the points s/he already made but usually it will be much more natural and passionate. You can even try to re-state one of the interview questions in a more casual way. “ What you said about hi-protein diets was amazing! How did you come up with that?!”

Sit back and watch what happens!

Once again, I am always sure to tell the subject afterwards that the camera was rolling all along. No one has ever complained.
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