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So far 3crowncreative has created 6 blog entries.

Lean Team Pro Tip #1: Learn and practice, learn and practice

2018-08-25T20:25:50+00:00Categories: Lean Team Pro Tip|

I shot my first film, 30 Frames A Second, in 5 days. I then spent a few more days writing a script, and edited the doc in 7 days (I’d rented an edit suite and could only afford a week’s worth of time). The movie probably cost me about $9,000 to make, and most of that was my own in-kind contribution of time and gear to the project. I never applied for funding, hired an executive producer, attended a pitch session, or got anywhere near a post-production suite. I then sent the film out to a few film festivals without any real idea of what I was doing. It ended up winning the Best Documentary award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and at several other fests in the months that followed. It played on Netflix for several years, and is still distributed educationally by Bullfrog Films. I decided that making independent documentaries was what I wanted to do. I was fortunate that I already had several years experience in producing, shooting, recording sound, and editing, skills I’d learned on the job as a TV news cameraman. My work was my practice field. That's the essential point of this first lean team tip: Learn and practice (and learn and practice) as many of the skills of filmmaking as you can. By becoming self-sufficient in planning, producing, writing, shooting, lighting, recording sound, and editing, you'll not only become a better and more well-rounded filmmaker–a lean team filmmaker–you'll also assume full control of your creative vision. You will [...]

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

2018-08-18T23:02:03+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director: Brett Story, Watched on: iTunes, Rating:  5/5.   For a film composed of luminous images and becalmed scenes of waiting, watching, and talking, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes will likely leave you outraged. It will be a quiet outrage, in keeping with the mesmerizing resignation and stillness of the people and places featured in the film, but the anger will be there nevertheless, on a constant low boil. Director Brett Story’s accomplishment here is in taking an unwieldy documentary trope–the survey film, in which situational vignettes and character-driven profiles follow one another without resolve or dramatic mini-climaxes–and turning it into a powerful mosaic of injustice and sorrow. She traveled around the country investigating the ways in which America’s prison industrial complex has become insinuated into the lives, communities, and businesses that exist nowhere near an actual prison. We see only one, Attica, whose sun-sparkled, castle-like exterior and manicured greenery makes it look like an inviting destination resort. We don’t need to go inside to see actual inmates. The victims of America’s mass incarceration obsession as well as those institutions feeding off their neverending “debt to society” walk among us. There is the black man who gigs away in Washington Square park teaching kids how to play chess. He learned the game in the slammer. There is the incarcerated black female wildfire fighter who takes pride in her dangerous work, but acknowledges she will probably never get hired for a similar job when she gets out. There is the black woman arrested and forced to choose between a [...]

Faces Places

2018-09-09T17:04:12+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Directors:  Agnès Varda, JR, Watched on:  Netflix, Rating:  2/5.     I loved Agnès Varda’s documentaries, The Beaches of Agnès and The Gleaners and I,for their unabashed reflexivity and casual wonder. She is an artist of the people, intertwining her off-hand interviews with melancholic asides on memory and the ever-shifting nature of relationships. Her best film, Vagabond, is a fictional narrative with documentary-like soundbites, set-up to look like the work of a reporter investigating the unsolved death of the titular young woman whose body is found in a ditch. The movie is uncompromising, even brutal, without the playfulness and wink she sometimes applies to her docs. That playfulness, leavened by a profound seriousness in her own non-fiction work, is perhaps the reason why the French artist, who goes by the initials JR, wanted to make a film with her. It’s the whimsy that rules here, threatening and mostly succeeding in turning what may have looked like a good idea in pre-production into an often exasperating and lightweight throwaway. JR, with his hipster porkpie and lanky energy, drives around the countryside in a van outfitted as a mobile photo booth. He takes pictures of townspeople and curious tourists on the spot and then his van spits out giant, large-format black-and-whites on cheap paper, which JR’s crew then pastes on buildings, ruins, and–in one instance–shipping containers. He is one of those artists that other artists might loathe for believing himself to be a man of the people when really, he is just a man of the zeitgeist. His idea [...]


2018-08-08T00:38:50+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Director: Sergei Loznitsa, Watched on: Filmatique, Rating: 4.5.   On first glance, the irony of this film’s premise is almost too simple: hordes of selfie-sticked tourists descend on Germany’s concentration camps to check “Holocaust memorials” off their bucket list. But after the requisite huff of judgement directed towards the T-shirted visitors and a grunting suspicion that the filmmaker is settling in for one long smirk, things get interesting pretty quickly. Quickly might be the wrong adverb. Director Sergei Loznitsa’s film is composed of long, static takes, many running five minutes or more, in which we observe from a respectful distance the shuffling of tourists through barracks and killing grounds, peering into cells and crematoriums, listening to audio tours and snapping pics with their smartphones. We are several minutes into the film before we see the Arbeit macht frei signage over the entry, mostly obscured by the crowds. Then scenes inside of families, couples, groups doing what tourists do: paying half-attention, yawning, fingering phones, snacking, guzzling water while wearing shorts and T-shirts on a hot summer day. Most look quickly through windows or at plaques and then move on. “Who are these disrespectful louts,” we want to say, “treating humanity’s greatest tragedy with all the reverence of an aqua park?” Then we realize the louts are us. The film’s title is taken from a 2001 book by W.G. Sebald, in which the main character, Jacques Austerlitz, a member of the kindertransport which saved the lives of 10,000 children before the outbreak of World War II, conducts a lengthy, labyrinthine search [...]

Lean Team Pro Tip #2: Eliminate Barriers, Get Close

2018-08-24T17:24:35+00:00Categories: Lean Team Pro Tip|

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Getting close in documentary filmmaking literally means putting your body and your camera as close to what you’re filming as possible. But it also means getting emotionally close to your subject matter, not just physically close. And it also means staying close to the vision you have for your film, not allowing marketing concerns or outside validators to interfere. In my book I write, “There is a kind of meditative awareness that takes over when I’m shooting close to my subjects, much like that of the skier or climber who focuses only on the physical elements right in front of them. The subject or character guides my eye, and my eye communicates with my hands, which then manage the camera’s iris, shutter speed, zoom, and audio level. I’m always dealing with matters of exposure and composition and focus, but also with how my subject is responding to my presence. I’m deeply aware of them as a human being, and truly grateful they’ve allowed me to be this close to them so I can bring their story to a viewer, to make a connection.” To achieve this closeness, the lean team documentary filmmaker strips their gear and their crew down to its essentials. You can film without lights, tripod, or assistants; you can record sound directly into your camera with only a wireless and a camera-mounted shotgun; you can conduct an interview by asking questions from behind the viewfinder. You can follow your subject anywhere and shadow them without distraction, because you’ve [...]

Lean Team Pro Tip #3: Visualize Your Film

2018-08-24T17:26:09+00:00Categories: Lean Team Pro Tip|

First you'll visualize the kind of film you want to make, and then you'll be tempted to define it. Where does it fit within the myriad of sub-genres of the documentary form? There are environmental docs, investigative docs, celebrity docs, and social justice docs. There are docs about musicians, designers, and inventors. There are biographies and hagiographies. Docs about athletes and animals, money and mountain climbing. Concert docs, event docs, eco docs and hybrids.There are first-person films and films about politics. Observational ethnographies and observational anthropologies. Art films, experimental films, abstract and obtuse films. Many of these categories come with a lot of built-in contingencies that dictate the equipment you will use, the size of your crew, the amount of money you’ll need, the time it will take to raise that money, shoot your material, sift through it, and edit it. Even your film festival and distribution options will depend on the style and approach you take. In my book, Get Close: Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking, I write that “I always evaluate my idea based on the lean team documentary filmmaking, or LTDF, model. The first question I ask is, ‘Can I get close to my characters or subject matter?’ If the answer is no, then I don’t make the film." If the answer is yes, then I ask another question: ‘What kind of film do I want to make?’” I always keep my goals as a lean team documentary filmmaker front and center when asking that question. If I can’t make my film as a one-person [...]