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Old January 8th, 2008, 09:36 PM   #1
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Documentary - Getting Started?

In my spare time, I would like try my hand at a documentary. My first thought was to make the subject an amusement place nearby. A "behind the scenes" sort of thing. The inner-workings, maintenance and general day-to-day running of a place such as this is something that has always fascinated me.

I cannot afford to pay for access or crew. Since I have a season pass, I was hoping to go over the next 6 months or so to film. I just need permission to tape and access to shadow some of the employees and ask questions on camera. If I was able to make something of it all, I could allow the company to purchase and sell it on their premises.

Is this a pipe dream? Has anyone here had experience with something like this? How would I go about asking? Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old January 8th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #2
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There are many good books on the documentary process that might help you think through what you might want to do and how you want to do it.

A good book to start with is Alan Rosenthal's "Writing, Directing and Producing Documentary Films and Videos"
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Old January 9th, 2008, 06:58 AM   #3
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Thanks, Peter. I have placed the book on order. Looks like a great place to start, as you said.

In the meantime, can you or anyone else offer any tips since I will be working alone. I have been doing school concerts, band concerts, weddings and funerals over the past two years (longer if you count a time during the late 80's). Obviously, this will be quite a different undertaking.

I guess my main concern is just getting the park to approve it. Should I approach them with a written outline of what I want to do or a simple email asking to meet with the person in charge of permitting such things?

I should also mention (in an effort to clarify), I am making this for the sole purpose of my interest and for the experience. I do not intend to release this publicly as a DVD or seek a distributor. If the park likes it and wants to offer it for sale to its guests, however, I'm all for it. :)

Last edited by Rey Lowe; January 9th, 2008 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old January 9th, 2008, 12:40 PM   #4
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Hi Rey,

First things first the fact that you love this subject and are intersted in doing this based on your interest alone will do wonders for the production. The powers that be who will grant you access to the park probably know very little about making a film so dont scare them with lingo, production schedule etc. My approach would be getting permission to film in the just the public areas first, since you are doing this in stages, and get them comfortable with you, then as the need arises, get more indepth permission and simply ask them if there is anything off limits, i.e proprietery things that are non-public or things not to ask employees etc. The park has a publicity department and that should be where you start. They will be happy to help. It is there job!

If you break it down to simple chunks at each shooting day and plan it out so you are not running about with a camera on a whim, it should be a nice experience for all involved.

In addition, if you have interest in possibly selling it at the park for the public to view, I would approach that totally differently.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 09:47 PM   #5
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No chance I'll scare them with any lingo. Aside from weddings, pageants and performances I have taped over the past two years, my only experience with anything close to this was taping short ad-libbed skits with my friends back in high school. That was.....ummmmmm.......over twenty years ago. :)

Thanks for your input and enthusiasm. I may just get the nerve to contact them now.

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Old May 17th, 2008, 08:42 AM   #6
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Do it!

Hi Rey,

I would say....DO IT!....that's exactly what I'm doing now. I've been doing photography and video as a hobby for years and, like you I wanted to do a documentary. I got together with 4 of my friends and we came up with an idea for a documentary. I invested about 6,000.00$ for the equipment. At least 3/4 of it was bought on eBay at a ridiculous price. I registered a company (35$) and my income tax return will pay for most of the equipment.

We did the research on the subject which is a shipwreck that happened about 45 years ago where I live. We found some people that were involved in the rescue, found documents in libraries, etc....and in January of 2008 we started filming interviews, scenery and with a bunch of volunteer we did some recreation of some of the events. It's amazing to see how many people wanted to participate and were interested in the story.

We had everybody sign releases. Everybody was told that we didn't have money to pay them. They all accepted that their pay would be a free copy of the movie and their 15 minutes of fame.

We shoot the movie on weekends and we're having the the best time ever. You see, I'm 47 years old and my friends are about the same age and even a bit older. We decided to do it because we don't want to be thinking 10 years down the road ''I wonder what would have happened if we had done that movie''.

We just went ahead and we're doing it now. Every weekends we're like a bunch of kids going to Disneyland.

So far I'm impressed at the result we're getting. It's even way over our expectations. I hope we can sell the final product to a TV station. If not then, we'll sell it during the tourist season and we know there's a market for that.

My personnal advice to you is.....don't be afraid.....start planning....get your crew together and......start shooting. But most important....have fun doing it.

I wish you the best of luck

Best regards

Luc Fontaine
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