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Documentary

Finding the Decisive Moment in a Movie Scene

Building a scene–or a short video–around a dramatic action is a powerful technique. It works in travelogues, commercials, documentaries, music videos, and all other genres.

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Memorable Movies Need Memorable Characters

Memorable movies are about people  worth knowing.  In fact, narrative films are often named for their key characters. So we have “The Godfather,” “E.T.,” “Thelma & Louise,” and “Goldfinger.” But characters are also crucial in nonfiction films, as mojo journalist Mike Castellucci demonstrates in  “Carrie’s Cakes.” In this short video report, produced for a Texas TV station, Castellucci visited…

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Giving Advice in a Video

Radim Zbořil’s “Brno in Motion” captures the filmmaker’s hometown in the Czech Republic. The beautifully photographed piece won 2nd prize for cinematography at the 6th annual iPhone Film Festival. But the film goes beyond the travelogue category. Combining a few well-placed title cards with clips of the memorable faces of passers-by, Zbořil advances the art of giving advice in a video.…

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Time Bending in Movies

Einstein proved that time is relative. But it’s moviemakers like Conor McDonnell who allow us to see the malleability of the fourth dimension. In “100 Second Week” McDonnnell reduces a journey spanning 168 hours to 100 seconds. Time bending in movies can be done in several ways. You can vary the frame rate to create…

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Four ways to use titles in a mini-doc

A memorable mini-doc must have strong images. But as we learn in Robb Montgomery’s “El Tatio Geyers,” concise, carefully written text can add clarity and drama. Montgomery, a celebrated mobile journalist and film teacher, illustrates four ways  to use titles in this short travelogue: He titles the video: “El Tatio Geyers” (0:04) He identifies the location: “In the…

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B-roll extravaganza: the art of visual exposition

Mac Premo’s astonishing–“The Function of Music”–teaches three keys to making a successful video interview: 1) find a person (the interviewee) that the audience might like to know; 2) have a specific subject in mind (often the answer to a question);  and 3) use visual examples (“B-roll”). “The Function of Music,” which was shown at the 2017 Disposable Film Festival, checks all three…

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