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UFVA Workshop--Doc Challenge


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A presentation delivered by Courtney Hermann at the 2012 University Film and Video Association meeting.

From 2008-2012, Courtney Hermann and her Documentary Production students participated in the International Documentary Challenge, a timed filmmaking competition where teams from across the world are given a documentary subgenre and a theme, and must create a 4-7 minute film from start to finish in just 5 days.

Courtney and her students have produced 10 films in all--4 were selected as contest finalists and premiered at the Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto. One film garnered additional commendations as the winner of the POV/American Documentary award. Three were selected for inclusion in the "Best of Doc Challenge" DVD, distributed by Typecast Releasing and KDHX Community Media.

This Power Point document, created for a workshop Courtney was invited to present at the University Film and Video Association meeting in 2012, uses experiences with the International Documentary Chalenge as case studies to address how instructors might manufacture a scenario where there’s enough at stake to motivate students to commit themselves to the cause of a collaborative project, and in the process open up a wealth of opportunities to learn about filmmaking and about themselves as filmmakers.

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UFVA Workshop--Doc Challenge

  1. 1. This Experience Nearly Killed Me, But I Would Definitely Do It Again: How to Flirt with Disaster in Order to Achieve Valuable Learning Outcomes from an Intensive Group Production Experience
  2. 2. Intensive Group Production A course or workshop structured around the collaborative creation of one or more films from concept to completion.
  3. 3. Philosophy/Assumptions/Observations
  4. 4. Philosophy/Assumptions/Observations There appears to be a correlation, if not a causality, between the specter of failure and eventual success.
  5. 5. Philosophy/Assumptions/Observations That there is something to be lost is a pre- requisite to achievement, as is the student filmmaker’s need to be challenged to do his or her best work.
  6. 6. Philosophy/Assumptions/Observations The instructor must model the commitment and enthusiasm they wish the students to adopt.
  7. 7. Philosophy/Assumptions/Observations There’s not really that much to be learned through failure. Therefore, the instructor must will the students to succeed.
  8. 8. Guiding Question of this Workshop:
  9. 9. Guiding Question of this Workshop: How do you as an instructor manufacture a scenario where there’s enough at stake to motivate students to commit themselves, body and soul, to the cause of a collaborative project…
  10. 10. Guiding Question of this Workshop: …and in the process open up a wealth of opportunities for students to learn about filmmaking and about themselves as filmmakers?
  11. 11. Case Study: The International Documentary Challenge
  12. 12. Not So Square (2011)
  13. 13. Key Elements BUY IN
  14. 14. Key Elements INVESTMENT
  15. 15. Key Elements COMMITTMENT
  16. 16. Key Elements REFLECTION
  17. 17. “This competition made me realize I’m a better filmmaker than I thought.”
  18. 18. “This was a crazy experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
  19. 19. “I never thought I could be so dedicated in my life.”
  20. 20. How is success measured? Winning a contest? Awards? Distribution?
  21. 21. Process—BEFORE THE PROJECT BEGINS • Recruit • Create a small hurdle • Establish a clear goal
  22. 22. Process—BEGINNING OF THE PROJECT • Solicit and interrogate ideas • Generate an equipment list • Generate initial marketing materials • Create a fundraising campaign • Investigate post-production facility options • Rank crew positions/duties • Define roles and responsibilities • Establish communication
  23. 23. Process—MIDDLE OF THE PROJECT • Micromanage from a distance • Encourage students to execute • Help students troubleshoot • Help students manage interpersonal conflict (without becoming a referee) • Make sure marketing materials are generated
  24. 24. Process—AFTER THE PROJECT • Organize a public screening • Collect Self- and Peer- Evaluations • Evaluate the students • Divide remaining budget for distribution • Consolidate project to share with participants
  25. 25. Process—END OF THE PROJECT • Arrange group travel to screenings • Help PMD continue distribution efforts • Hang a display in the hallway at school • Post content-rich information on the school website • Keep in touch via social media • Get participants back together
  26. 26. Technical--HARDWARE • DSLRs (Canon 7D, 5D) • Second System audio recorders (Sound Devices 702, Zoom Recorders) • Radio Lavs (Lectrosonics + Tram) • Beechtek Boxes (in case of single-system shooting)
  27. 27. Technical--SOFTWARE • Compression software (MPEG Streamclip, Adobe Media Encoder) • Editing Software (FCP7, Media Composer, Premier Pro) • Compression software (MPEG Streamclip, Adobe Media Encoder) • DVD Authoring (DVD Studio Pro, Adobe Encore) • Web Authoring (Web CMS) • Video Hosting (Vimeo, upload to web host via Fetch, Cyberduck)
  28. 28. Technical—PRODUCTION WORKFLOW • Pre-established naming conventions • Video Village (dumping media, conversion/transcoding, ingestion, project organization within editing software, synching, generating backups)
  29. 29. Technical—POST WORKFLOW • Scene assembly (multiple editors working simultaneously) • Film assembly • Rough cut • Fine cut • Color Correction • Sound Mix • Mastering • DVD creation, upload to web
  30. 30. Technical—POST-PRODUCTION WORKFLOW • Media Management and Project Consolidation • Last chance at improving file management (creates a project that can be shared, provides the possibility of easy access to elements at a later date, makes the project small enough for permanent storage on an external drive)