Finding Stories in the Laundromat

Sometimes, I miss going to the laundromat. It provided a much-needed third space in an area that offers few of them. It also provided a place to think. Well, sometimes, anyway. Afternoon talk shows and sometimes the evening news played on the TV, and children often skidded around the washer and dryer banks, their screams…

11 Takeaways from a Documentary Editing Course

Docs in Progress, a Maryland-based documentary organization whom I have long admired, recently offered a Zoom-based class in documentary editing. Taught by H. Paul Moon, the class combined theory and practice through Adobe Premiere. Here are 11 takeaways from that intense and interesting class. Note that these tips avoid the specifics of Premiere but instead…

11 Lessons from Taking Two Documentary Production Courses

During 2020, I had the opportunity to take multiple online courses thanks nimble film organizations hustling to make their courses available and to Zoom. I took two courses related to documentary production: Short Documentary Production with Thalia Drori Ramirez through Film North and DIY Documentary Mobile with Kia Anne Geraths through Northwest Documentary. The following…

Reflections on Teaching an Interactive Documentary Production Course

This semester I had the privilege of teaching a course titled Interactive Documentary Production. This post reflects on this class and explores revisions for the future. The course consisted of three parts: traditional video production, serious game design, and interactive video. The course was taught exclusively online, and it encouraged students to use the equipment…

Some Reflections on a Recent Video Production

During the last two months, I completed a short film about a dying cat. I created the video as part of an online class titled “D.I.Y. Documentary Mobile,” taught by Kia Geraths through Northwest Documentary based in Portland, Oregon. This post reviews some of what I learned in the production process. The course’s primary goal…

11 Tips for Beginning Documentary Makers

Starting production on your first documentary can be an exciting — and scary — moment. On a couple occasions this summer I asked Twitter followers about their favorite or most memorable advice to new documentary makers. This post rounds up some of those responses. 1. START. Seriously, start. Do something, anything. Conduct some background research,…

Plans for an Interactive Documentary Production Class

This fall I have the amazing good fortune to teach a class in documentary. This one is titled Interactive Documentary Production, a class that I had developed and proposed almost two years ago. Due to budget and enrollment issues, the class was canceled last fall. But this fall it will be running, with 10 students…

A Memory Box and an Interactive Documentary: Now What?

In recent weeks both my colleague Amy Lauters and I have been blogging about turning a box of memories she received during her research on wives of farmers into an interactive documentary prototype. We both have perused the box’s contents and have made a loose inventory of what was inside. The general contents included the…

Some Observations on Web-Based Interactive Documentaries

In preparing for making an interactive documentary prototype, I have been exploring other interactive documentaries, specifically web-based ones. Web versions offer the most universal access and can require less programming than tablet or smart phone apps. The following post gathers my observations in learning more about the best practices of these experiences. Story A clear,…