Archive for the ‘Production’ Category

Fair Use, Pt II: Ctr for Social Media

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Agnes Varnum from the Center for Social Media has reminded me of another important resource for filmmakers dealing with issues of public domain, copyright, and fair use. It’s the Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. Download it here.

Agnes describes the Statement as “a short handbook that articulates certain circumstances in documentary making when it is appropriate to claim fair use for copyrighted material.”

In her comment on this blog, Agnes adds, “I’m going to be at several fests over the next few months on panels about the issue and helping doc makers understand how to make better use of fair use. It’s a small step, but an important one. We already have a lot of movement on the gatekeeper side to adopt the principles at work in the handbook.”

She’ll be at the Nashville Film Festival (one of my favorites) in April. Check out Agnes’ blog, in addition to the Center’s website, for more info and other dates.

Free Comic for Filmmakers

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

A reader of this blog (thanks, Jon) alerted me to one of the coolest works of edutainment I’ve seen in a long, long time. The work in question is Tales from the Public Domain: Bound By Law?, and it’s a graphic novel (published by Duke University’s Center for the Study of Public Domain) that explores and explains copyright, “fair use”, licensing and other tricky, sticky issues that inevitably arise when you’re making a documentary. If those topics usually make your eyes glaze over, look no further.

Granted, as a graphic novel, Bound by Law‘s anecdotes about licensing problems in docs like Sing Faster and Mad Hot Ballroom can’t compete with the storylines of, say, V for Vendetta or Watchmen, but I was genuinely impressed with the quality of the art and writing. Plus, how many other graphic novels are going to help save you money and keep you out of court when you make your next documentary?

The cost? A mere $5.95 for the book, or free as a digital copy.

Fresh and Local: Part II

Friday, March 24th, 2006

After I made the “fresh and local” post late last month, I found myself thinking back to a paper that Sara Zia Ebrahimi, a graduate student in the MFA program at Temple, wrote in my producing course last semester. In the paper, she proposes a co-operative filmmaking model based on Community Supported Agriculture programs. I appreciated her ability to draw productive analogies to a system that many independent filmmakers might overlook, so I asked her to share the paper, and she’s generously agreed.

Sara Zia points out that the paper is a work-in-progress. Eventually she might want to present the paper at a conference — not to mention implement the ideas contained in the paper — so she’d love to hear your comments and constructive criticism. Post here, or contact her through her site below.

Sara Zia’s short The Achivements of Exile will screen as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival’s “Festival of Independents” on Monday April 3, 7pm. Congrats!

Download the paper here.


Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

And the writing on that wall says: Super-8 Kodachrome will soon be R.I.P.


Int’l Documentary Challenge

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Doug Whyte of KDHX (St. Louis Community Media) emailed me recently about a new “timed-filmmaking” competition called the International Documentary Challenge (IDC), which will be happening this March 22-27, 2006.

Much like the 48 Hour Film Project, in the Doc Challenge teams from around the world have just over 5 days to make a short non-fiction film (4-8 min.).

The organizations involved seem first-rate: the competition has been developed in cooperation with the International Documentary Association, the Documentary Organisation of Canada and the creators of the 48 Hour Film Project, and the winning films will screen this summer at a theatrical event presented in association with Silverdocs.

The competition costs $125 to enter ($110 if you register by Feb. 28). I asked Doug what the entry fee goes towards since it’s more than the $35-$50 you usually see with film festivals. He replied:

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the email. As far as the entry fee, the amount is based on several things:

1. We only accept a limited number of teams (as opposed to festivals that will accept hundreds if not thousands of entries.)

2. The fees take care of many expenses: administration, marketing, judging, prizes, etc. Even with the $110-125 fee, we will still not make a profit.

3. We actually pursue distribution for the films – theatrical and TV and will also release a DVD. We are a non-profit organization and by no means make money on any of these deals. (If the winning films happen to earn a profit, we share that with the filmmakers.)

That said, I would like to see the fees become more affordable for the filmmakers. But that won’t happen unless we are able to get a sponsor who can help cover our expenses for running an event like this.

I hope that explains it. If you have any more questions, I’d be happy to try and answer them.

Doug Whyte
IDC Producer

So there it is. Good luck to anyone that enters and good luck, also, to Doug and his crew in their launch of this competition.