Lessons from the real world

Author: Paul Wyatt

Article exert. Originally featured in issue 8 of “Digital Filmmaker magazine”

You can’t write for characters unless you understand people. If you’re interested in learning about character and telling their stories then documentary is a terrific primer for understanding people, story structure and how narrative works. These are great skills to take across to scripted pieces. Documenting on film is hard work which involves setting up shots quickly, capturing events or comments on the first take and evolving your film as the individuals taking part take you on their story. The narrative of the piece depends on where the person featured takes you. As a self-shooter and editor short form documentary is a great way to learn about working quickly and efficiently as well as making rapid fire decisions on what shots you need to cover a shoot and how much material you need from those being interviewed. These are perfect transferable filmmaker skills.

What I didn’t know about filmmaking I learned on The Royal Society of Art’s “Great Recovery” project whilst running around tin mines and recycling plants where over the course of six months and 18 short films I learned to how to edit in my head, shoot with very little kit and how the cutaway shot can save your life in an edit.

The Great Recovery is a two year project run by the Action and Research Centre at the RSA and its aim is to build a cross disciplinary design community to drive forward a new resource efficient economy. Run by co-directors of Design: Sophie Thomas and Nat Hunter the project set out to bring together as many different people representing all groups of the Circular Network together to observe, debate, tear apart, re-build and co-create a wide variety of products. During the project’s first phase seven public workshops were organised around the country which we would attend and film groups being given electrical appliances such as a washing machine, flat screen monitors, mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras. Tasks were set to rate these objects on ease of disassembly, value of components after disassembly, and rarity of materials.

The full feature eight page feature can be found in issue 8 of “Digital Filmmaker magazine”


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