September 2, 2022

The Big (Short Documentary) Tease

Teasers and trailers are different things. Trailers — those things you see at the movies before the feature shows — are supposed to give a clue concerning what a film is about. A teaser can do one or more of a few different jobs, including: 1) indicating a film is in progress, 2) demonstrating “look and feel,” 3) creating interest in particular aspects of a coming film, 4) providing proof to a funder that, yes indeed, you are working on the damned thing, and 5) testing various filmmaking choices before committing.

I’ve produced two teasers for Trinity, my upcoming (because it’s in post-production) documentary short film about (and here’s where it gets sticky) coping with the Crisis of 2020.

For the perplexed, start by doing two things. search for #crisisof2020 and read this book.

If you’re familiar with Strauss & Howe you’ll “get” this teaser. If not, the look-and-feel thing is still in play 🙂 And the buddy-road-trip narrative arc should be apparent, too.

One of the things I’m wondering about is whether to go color or black & white. The latter is interesting to me because I like B&W and I think the baby boomer ethos lends itself to B&W. We’ll see.

Finally, a teaser has an important personal role to play for filmmakers: You’ve declared yourself, now it’s time to follow through.

Tech note: I filmed this with a Canon C100 Mark II using the Canon LOG shooting profile. I applied a “skin tone” LUT to the footage and corrected for exposure. For the B&W version, I simply desaturated and adjusted for exposure and contrast. Edited with DaVinci Resolve 18.

August 29, 2022

An Idea is Formed

Last I posted, I mentioned my Documentary Practicum class would be choosing an idea for their semester documentary project. And so they have: the role of the house-party scene as a steppingstone to success for a local band.

My first thought was: typical undergraduate student idea.

My second thought was: it all depends on how good a job they do telling that story.

In other words: I will teach them how to do it well.

August 11, 2022

In Search of an Idea

I’m teaching MED512 Documentary Practicum this fall. The semester begins on 22 August.

The class will complete a short documentary film about a Springfield topic over 16 weeks. They’ll get hands-on experience doing all the things.

The goal for the class is to finish a good film in time to submit it to the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Arts — an international competition of student and faculty media. Our overall media program at Missouri State ranks 4th. Our documentary program ranks 21st.

I have high expectations. I’ll be taking my readers along for the ride.

Step one: A story idea.

Stay tuned…

July 22, 2022

Notes on the Trinity Edit

I have one big step left before beginning the edit of Trinity, my latest documentary project.

It’s a buddy road trip story about coping in a crisis era. Call it the Crisis of 2020 as predicted by Strauss and Howe in their 1992 book Generations: The History of America’s Future. A long time ago on this blog I published a list of ten books all Americans should read. This was among them. If you want to check that list, you’ll have to go hunting for it at Just click the link in the sidebar.

Anyway, we’re living through a crisis era just as Strauss and Howe predicted. Now they didn’t say anything about the various problems that might comprise the Crisis of 2020. Instead, they used their model of cyclical generational personalities to make a general prediction. Basically, the generational alignment now corresponds to the generational alignment of the World War 2 era (including the late Depression and post-war angst over communism).

So my buddies and I made a road trip to arguably the site of the culminating event of the last crisis era — the Trinity site in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was tested.

I made this decision before filming began: I’d conduct my interviews with my buddies after the trip and in audio only so that the entire film is narrated b-roll.

I still need to make my final decisions about what audio gets in and what gets left out. I’d like to finish that work in a few days.

And I suppose it’s about damned time to get this finished. I first mentioned the project in a post back in April 🙂

June 15, 2022

Watch Lists for Documentary Films

I just posted my second tweet of the day regarding yet another list of documentary films. I sort of play this for a chuckle because there are so many of these lists published. But, really, I find these “listicles” very useful because I try (and succeed imperfectly) to watch a documentary film every day. I maybe actually watch only three or four per week 🙂

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