Here’s a recent conversation from our Facebook page, posted with Elliott’s permission. My responses will be in bold, please disregard gramatical errors…I get excited and type FAST, also…it’s Facebook, it gets the point across :DHey Stephen,
My name is Elliott, i first got exposed to your videos through Mount Hermon, seeing you around Pondy and your highlight videos. I’ve followed your work on and off since then, but recently saw your video on soccer in South Africa and its really amazing. Im interested in how that all came together, how did that trip to Africa come about?
the second part is this: im currently in a film program at my school, i started junior year and now im a senior in the program. a lot of the program is based on making short documentaries. last year was a good experience, getting my feet wet and exploring video production. this year i want to take it a step further and really progress in my shooting and editing skills. any advice/tips you could share? heres an example of my work from last year, its a short doc we spent about a month working on.https://vimeo.com/43234387
Thanks so much for your time!
YO What’s up Elliott?? Thanks for the message, that’s sweet you are studying film now! Short documentaries are what I love! Sweet 2.5D stuff you had going on in your piece. Not sure what route you want to go but there are tons of different styles of short docs, I’d encourage you to explore them all. One of my favorite styles is not showing the person who is talking actually speaking. This gives more room for expressing who they are through the footage of them you have. Here’s some dudes that really inspire me, check out their work and hopefully it will inspire you too. If you like what you see, copy it, transform it over time and combine it with other ideas. (I took that from Kirby below).
Eliot Rausch - Eliots style doesn’t always follow a specific person, sometimes it does, but it always has a message.
Last Minutes With Oden: https://vimeo.com/8191217
The Pool Guy: https://vimeo.com/49476769
Right Beneath the Surface: https://vimeo.com/48178604
What I Have to Offer: https://vimeo.com/45097801
Sermon on the Mound: https://vimeo.com/21823642
California is a Place - finds a story in CA and tells it.
The Imagineer: http://vimeo.com/24368336
Sonic Soto: https://vimeo.com/40659131
Kirby Ferguson - more of an educational traditional documentary style. The film you sent me reminds me of Kirby’s style.
Everything is a Remix 1: https://vimeo.com/14912890
Everything is a Remix 2: https://vimeo.com/19447662
Everything is a Remix 3: https://vimeo.com/25380454
Everything is a Remix 4: https://vimeo.com/36881035
Another dude with a really unique style, is Casey Neistat. He basically just brings his camera with him everywhere and tells stories or educates people on what’s going on.
NYC Soda Ban explained, sort of: https://vimeo.com/49576632
$13,238.86 left in a NYC taxi: https://vimeo.com/46926554
Make it Count: https://vimeo.com/40004005
Bus vs Seaplane: https://vimeo.com/45868958
Lucid Inc. - Again the modern short doc style, telling a persons story, a journey. Just found these guys, great stuff.
The Roper: https://vimeo.com/48922534
I could go ON and ON and ON, but check out this channel as well for more inspiration:https://vimeo.com/channels/documentaryfilm
This should keep you busy a while…haha but anyways, if you hear a story that needs to be told…TELL IT. If you can’t find a story just start asking questions, you’ll find one. I found a professional scooter rider in my hometown so I interviewed him (for my documentary class in college):https://vimeo.com/20761721 Nothing crazy story-wise, but there is something there.
Whatever you do as a documentarian always ask yourself what is the message I’m telling. Form your edit around that.
As far as details about the S.A. trip goes. My buddy Jason (who was the photographer with me at Pondy in 2011), moved out to florida to begin working with OneHope. They wanted to send him to South Africa to tell three stories of ministries they were partnering with over there. He recommended they call me up and they did and a month later Jason and I were on a plane to Africa! CRAZY…it was awesome, all expenses paid, lots of creative freedom, also with a good friend by my side, Jason….basically my dream job, I even got to skip like three weeks of school and count those projects towards my classes
If you haven’t seen the rest of the videos from that trip you can find them here (but I think the Ubabalo one is the best, so I’m glad you saw that one):https://vimeo.com/channels/onehopeinfocus
As far as technical tips, invest in good audio equipment. Audio can make or break a doc…well not always. That tyler wheeland video I sent you I recorded with a 20 dollar lav mic[http://goo.gl/GoExL]! haha Now, and for the Africa stuff I used a Rode [http://goo.gl/nI6Pi] that is much better.
As far as shooting goes, just keep shooting as much as you can. Every time you pick up a camera you are getting better, same with editing. Watch a lot of films that inspire you and ask yourself…what inspires me about this. What shot in this vid can I copy, or do even better!?
Hope this helps man, good luck on your filmmaking journey, I’m always here to help! Also, do you mind if I post this on the blog??
Sweet! thanks for all those links man. will definitely go through them all. ive seen some of Casey Neistat’s stuff before, his definitely an original way of doing things. I saw this one video he did on bike lane enforcement, liked that one.
yeah i definitely am trying to get in as much camera work and editting as i can, only problem is that i dont always have access to use the programs cameras if we arent currently working on a project. thats been kind of a bummer, especially cause i dont have anything to film or edit with at home. But hopefully we start a project soon and i can get some footage to mess around with during free time. I noticed on your blog you said you were gonna have a tutorial for the “steezy wipe” comin out soon. DEF excited for that. also, feel free to post this on the blog! thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and im sure i will be coming back and asking many more as the year goes on. question, did you study film in college and if so where at?
For sure man, not sure what kind of phone you had, but I used to film vids on my iphone 3g (the ollllld one) all the time. Helps to just keep that editing fresh
Glad you’re excited about the steezy wipe, I am too! I still need to make the tutorial video though haha…I’ll basically record myself doing it next time I do one and then talk over it. Should be sweet!
I studied film or cinema media arts to be exact at Biola University in Southern California. It was AWESOME to say the least.
ill keep an eye out for the tutorial then. lotta cool stuff on your blog. i love that you have made yourself such a resource for other filmmakers, and the whole collaborative aspect you have instilled, its really neat!
Biola! cool, i didn’t know they had a media program there. Whats it like? did you like Biola? i never thought i would even consider applying to a Christian college in the past, but after Pondy this summer, some things changed and ive sorta been more open to the idea.dude, changed my life. I’d highly recommend it. it’s so nice to be away from the party scene at other schools (yeah there’s one at biola too, it’s just not as encouraged and a LOT easier to not fall into). it was awesome to experience Christian community for the first time too, kinda like camp, where everyone has the same mindset. Also, is a lot less competitive than other film schools. The film program is a little difficult to get into (it’s a separate application), but I’m sure you could get into it if you sent in previous work The film classes are really small and they keep it that way for a reason, with a small class you can have more personal a relationship with the professors and interact/learn a lot more. It’s a lot os $$$$ to go to a private school, but my parents helped and I took out a lot of loans/financial aid stuff. Totally worth it. Biola’s film program is so legit too, tons of awesome profs, TONS of awesome equipment to rent out whenever you like. They have the RED (maybe two by now) camera, and a bunch of other suuuper nice cameras, plus a legit studio, etc
Definitely check it out. Biola has a bunch of Biola Weekends or Biola Bound as they call it where you can visit and if you end up attending the school they will pay for your trip (if you’re flying or something)…if you live close it’s definitely worth checking out. Let me know if you have any more questions, more than willing to help!thanks for all the info. I will definitely look into applying. pretty stressful time right now, the whole college app process, not having a clue what i want to study, the possibility of being miles from both friends and family next year. its nuts haha. ill be glad when its all over. second semester will be an exciting time.
i was wondering if you could take some time to critique my project, the one i linked you in an earlier message? That would be really great if you are willing, always looking for some honest feedback. but only if you have the time to! thanks!totally man!
ok here are my notes:
good: excellent audio, love the foley/sound effects at the beginning. the audio from the interviews is flawless. love the music choices, fit really well with the piece.
love the 2.5D stuff you did with some of the photos at the beginning, this is a sweet effect I love seeing that done.
Good B-Roll, adequate amount, kept me interested all the way through and added to the story.
things to improve (in my opinion, take what you like): the audio voiceover from the student is a little unprofessional. the audio quality is not as good as the other interviews for some reason and i heard a little to harsh of P sounds in there, possibly the mic was too close to subjects mouth or you needed a pop-filter. Also, you can tell the speaker is young, this just gives it a “school project” type feel (which I know it totally was, so no big deal), but if you’re going for a wider audience, possibly consider getting a professional voiceover for that part as well. There are many places to do this online that are actually pretty affordable. You just send the person your script and they’ll send you back a recording. There’s a bunch of people on fiverr.com that will do it for around 5 bucks
Interviews, these were good, only thing I could think of that would add a little more dynamics is crop some of the shots a bit. So say you have a mid shot of the lady, then you cut to some b-roll, on the next shot when you come back to her crop/zoom it in in your editing program. With HD cameras you can do this without loosing too much quality. You can crop in on someones face a bit to stress an important point, and just give a variety to the different interview shots (almost like you had two cameras)
Pans, not sure if it was my internet connection, but some of the video pans like left-to-right or up-down seemed a little bit choppy. Could have been your fluid head tripod was a little wacky, but that took down the quality a bit IMO.
Overall: Awesome piece man. Very very good, very informative, interesting, and professional on top of that. I feel as if you could show that to someone looking to do a doc and they’d hire you for sure! Especially at your age, keep up the good work you have a bright future man! It’s awesome to see young filmmakers stepping it up, keep me in the loop with future projects, I’d love to follow your progress
——-Thanks to Elliott for being awesome and being apart of our Facebook Community. If you watched his piece and have tips for him you can find him on Facebook or Vimeo. As always, if you need filmmaking help or just want to talk, hit me up there or HERE on tumblr. If you have a piece you’d like a critique on, send it here. Thanks for following everyone!
Things on the horizon for stephendiaz.com in the next couple months :
- Steezy Wipe Tutorial
- Organizing ALL Your Footage Tutorial
- Tilt-Shift/Selective Focus Tutorial
- 30,000 Follower Giveaway !!!