In the studio

documentary camera - Crew Connection

3 Tips to a Standout Documentary

3 Tips to a Standout Documentary 2560 1707 Dani Lyman

I recently binged watched Andrew Jarecki’s six part documentary, The Jinx, on HBO and I was enthralled. Most of us had heard of Robert Durst before.  We’d seen headlines and heard rumors, maybe even watched Jarecki’s first film about Durst, All Good Things, but we had never seen him like this.  Here, the monster, the murderer, is now a small, awkward old man shifting in his seat uncomfortably while Jarecki tries to pry the truth out of his decades of silence… and we’re never quite sure we get it.

Documentaries are about truth. They are visual essays intended to share knowledge, perspective and enlighten an audience. They are created by people who have a story that HAS to be told. The passion runs so deep they bury themselves in paperwork and evidence half a century old and surrender their own time, money and resources to share the story with the world.

In some cases, these stories are revolutionary and groundbreaking, in others, they are eye-opening and thought-provoking. In any case, great documentaries contain 3 key elements to keep your viewer hooked.

INTRIGUE

Who cares? Before you delve into the depths of creating your own documentary you have to ask yourself, “Who cares about this topic?” Followed by “How can I make people care?” Much like writing a screenplay or marketing a business, you must be sure you’re telling the story in a way that makes the viewer care. When they are mindlessly flipping through the endless possibilities on Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Sling, etc., what is it about your documentary that stands out among the crowd?

The intrigue element speaks to our intellect. It says we will gain new knowledge about how to drop weight quickly and revolutionize our health. It promises we can learn new tools for success in the business world. It says we are going to learn the answer to a question we didn’t even know we had.

Intrigue makes the viewer press select on YOUR documentary.

 

REVEAL

Now that you’ve posed the question, you must reveal an answer. You need to reveal a new truth by providing new evidence on a cold case, new findings for a study or a new perspective on an old topic.

The way and order you reveal the truth of your story, the way you personalize it and the way you present new information is how you hook the viewer. Building up the tension, hinting at what comes next, foreshadowing the breakthrough or demise of your characters and finding that pivotal piece makes a human connection.

If intrigue speaks to our intellect, then reveal speaks to our emotions. Fear. Empathy. Outrage.  That’s how you get viewers to binge Making a Murderer and then spread the word on social media, to friends, and around the water cooler.

INSPIRE

A solid documentary inspires the audience to ask more questions long after it’s over.

Did he really do it? Was that UFO only a military experiment? If I become a Keto Vegan can I take over the world?

As a truth-seeking storyteller, your job is to present the most accurate information in a meaningful and visually interesting way to your viewer and then trust them to take it from there. Is there a call to action? Should the viewer donate to a charity? Should they vote on an upcoming bill? Or are you simply hoping to satisfy a curiosity or inspire a thought-provoking discussion over a bottle of wine?

If your documentary doesn’t inspire the viewer to ask more questions, you may be doing it wrong.

The foundation of documentaries is truth. What truth do you need to tell?


Crew Connection – A Film Crewing Company

Crew Connection is a film crew company that helps you find and hire a video crew team for your event. The crew connection team is on call to help you 24/7. We offer many options: sign in today at Crew Connection, fill out our contact form, call 303-526-4900, or email us at info@crewconnection.com.

Studio set | Crew Connection

Four ways to build a studio

Four ways to build a studio 500 375 Crew Connection

*This article was originally posted to productionhub.com. Read the original article here.

 

What better place to go for advice on how to build a successful production house than where competition is the stiffest? Mike Levy started Levy Production Group in 1987 and succeeded where many others failed—Las Vegas. We figure if you can make it in the entertainment capital of the world, you can probably make it anywhere. Here are our top four takeaways from Mike on how to build a successful studio:

Get experience

The best thing young, aspiring editors, camera people, and future business owners can do is get experience. If you want to become the go-to person in your field, take online courses, college courses, and even unpaid gigs as opportunities to learn the ins and outs of video production. Learn the industry overall, not just your position. Understanding everything from production through post makes you a well-rounded teammate or team lead. Not all jobs offer glamour, but all jobs offer experience.

Be nice

Being talented isn’t enough. Don’t just learn to be good at what you do, but also at how you do it. This is not your typical desk job. Our industry is famous for long hours, late nights, and many consecutive days on set. Tough conditions can bring out the worst in people. Those who can communicate clearly, listen well, and stay level-headed are invaluable. You’ll be remembered as much for the way you conduct yourself as for the work you produce. Be humble. Look to learn from people rather than to be right.

 

4 ways to build a studio

Behind the scenes with Levy Production Group.

 

A warehouse is just a warehouse

You can’t just call a large, open building a studio. Having enough room to shoot properly is just the beginning. If you really want to do it right, you have to be ready to invest in heating and cooling, overhead and floor lighting, and soundproofing, for starters. If clients have to redo a take because they hear an ambulance in the background, they’ll be taking their business elsewhere next time. You also need creature comforts so you can accommodate not just the shoots, but the people, too. Clients want to go to a facility that feels good—with nice dressing rooms, kitchen areas, restrooms, etc. Fresh-baked cookies (a Levy Production Group signature), goodie baskets, meals, snacks, candies, sodas, and gourmet coffees and teas go a long way toward making people comfortable and earning repeat business.

Find your niche and do it well

It seems simple, but most of the important things are. When you have the best resources and do the best work, you’ll get return clients. Word of mouth and reputation are irreplaceable.

After starting as an ad agency and outsourcing to local TV stations, Mike Levy decided to invest in a small stage to facilitate smaller projects like ChromaKey insert shoots and single-car shoots. Realizing that they were good at something and that they could get paid for it, Levy Production Group bought their first camera and editing package and have grown along with Vegas ever since. In their current 14,000 square-foot facility, they do everything from everyday interviews to shoots with big-name celebrities, athletes, and musicians.

Building any business can feel like a gamble, but with these key practices it’s a sure bet.

 

4 ways to build a studio

A peak inside the top-of-the-line studio at Levy Production Group.

 

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign In to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.