10 Tips to Telling a Tale

Production Team.jpeg

When the average person thinks about a documentary film in terms of how it’s put together, they might often have the misconception that it’s developed, filmed, edited, and distributed by a “one man band.” Many think that it’s easier to produce than say your average blockbuster because it involves real people. Surprisingly though, that’s not the case.

Documentary films require a tremendous amount of time and effort, brainstorming ideas that’ll be intriguing to audiences, collecting materials, conducting research, and most importantly, focusing on a topic the filmmaker is passionate about and audiences will appreciate. It takes a lot of thought and care.

Below are some essential tips you should consider when producing a doc:

  1. Topic & interviewees need to be interesting
  2. Storytelling needs to be relatable to audiences
  3. Keep storyline as tight as possible
  4. Make sure your film is educational, engaging, and entertaining
  5. Don’t rush your film to make an arbitrary deadline
  6. Collaborators are important—know what you don’t know. In order to make our documentary film, Jewish American Soldiers: Stories from WWII a success, we needed great researchers, funders, editors, graphic designers, sound designers, etc. There’s no “I” in “documentary”
  7. Keep an open mind to others' ideas in order to produce a better film
  8. Don’t wait for $$$. You need to capture interview and b-roll when your subjects are available. A striking example of this is in our film. We interviewed 12 WWII veterans, however, by the time we premiered the film, three of those “Greatest Generation” veterans had passed
  9. Be careful not to get into too much debt, unless you can afford it
  10. Being organized and having a detailed timeline are crucial

Here are a few questions to think about as you ponder your doc:

  • What topic(s) are you passionate about?
  • What kind of story do you want to tell?
  • What emotion are you trying to evoke?
  • What impact are you hoping to achieve?
  • Who’s your intended audience?

There’s no perfect way to direct & produce a doc. However, following our tips will help with your filmmaking process. It’ll still be an arduous journey, but we’re sure that it will be rewarding.

Please let us know your tips for producing a doc. Talk to you again next time.

Passion Project – Overlooked Stories of our WWII Vets

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to get a little personal and talk about a true passion project.

In early 2015, our team set out to use our talent and resources to capture the stories of an often-overlooked veteran population – the brave Jewish soldiers who served our country during WWII. Under the auspices of Charlotte-based Hornet’s Nest Jewish War Veterans Post 765, we’re capturing first-hand accounts of deeply moving experiences, told as stories with lessons to be learned by these “Greatest Generation” veterans. 

The film is entitled Jewish American Soldiers: Stories From WWII. 

These men volunteered to join the military and were put in harm’s way to defend a country that, in many cases, was overtly discriminating against them for their faith. It’s the reality of that era, which makes it an important lesson for generations who did not have that experience. Most of them never spoke about their stories with families or friends, until now.  

Our intention with the film is to allow these heartbreaking, inspiring, and in some cases, truly stirring stories to serve as a touchstone and warning for future generations. If we can learn from history, we might have a chance of ensuring it does not get repeated. Then, at least in a way, what these soldiers endured on the battlefield and in life served a purpose. Each of them selflessly protected our country and allowed generations of our families to enjoy the freedoms we have today. The process of making this documentary had an unanticipated cathartic side effect for many of them, which is evident on camera. 

It’s a truly emotional, impactful, and heartfelt story.

You can view the trailer for Jewish American Soldiers: Stories from WWII here.

Our team is using crowd funding to assist in the financing of the project. If you’d like to help, please visit our GoFundMe page. 

If you had the means to create your own passion project what would it be? Tell us about it. Talk to you next Friday.