Dear Documentary Filmmakers: Noise

Dear Documentary Filmmakers: If there are disruptive kids/pets around, you may want to reschedule your shoot.

This one is pretty basic, I’ll admit, but it still bears consideration. WC Fields famously offered the following advice: “Never work with animals or children.” I wouldn’t go quite so far as to ban them completely from your films, but, seriously, if you’re trying to get an interview with an important subject, you want your audience to be able to concentrate on what s/he is saying, not on the dog barking in the next room, or the precocious brat competing for his parent’s (or the camera’s) attention. Unless you’re a one-man crew and your subject is alone, there must be someone else around to distract the loveable little moppet and puppy, right? Otherwise, maybe consider filming that interview when Junior’s at school or walking the dog…

While I can understand to some extent if you’re capturing verité footage, even in that case, you will still want to be able to include something useable in your film – ie, something that audiences can properly understand. If noisy verité footage is not pivotal, you shouldn’t use it – it will be too disruptive to have the impact you want it to have anyway.


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Filed under Dear Documentary Filmmakers, Documentary, Film

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