I just got back from the Woodstock Film Festival in upstate New York. I went to all three days of the festival but only attended one movie. The reason is because I went there for the panel discussions and also because it was convenient since I have a vacation house in the area. Anyway, you can really learn a lot at panel discussions and you can also learn that you are closer to being on the right track as a good story teller and a good DIY doc maker by hearing their stories. In other words panel discussions can help you prove to yourself that you know what you are doing because you can relate to the speakers or better yet, in some cases you don’t agree with them because your experiences were different. Either way, my advice is simple…never miss an opportunity to hear an established filmmaker talk about their experiences. That being said, search YouTube for documentary filmmaker interviews and LEARN!
My take away from the weekend was this…every documentary filmmaker has their own ideas and style for filmmaking. That is what makes this industry so great…there’s not a lot of rules to this game and all filmmakers have their own techniques. All their theories and stories are different and each documentary filmmaker is unique. So always remember that when you learn something from a filmmaker, add that knowledge to what you already know and don’t give up your own beliefs and style for telling a story. This advice should make any DIY beginner feel good about understanding that your style and core beliefs can hold up to anyones else’s idea of filmmaking. It’s art and art has no rules. But it does have demands if you want to impress people and keep them interested. If you don’t lose focus…of that most important requirements of keeping someone entertained and interested at the same time, their are no boundaries to telling your story.