It takes a lot of time and money to make a documentary, especially when you are just starting out. It’s one thing to get the filming done but another to get your film into post-production. One of the first things you can do to draw attention to your film is to make a trailer that will start buzz about your film, even while it’s still in production.
Prior to entering journalism school, I interned for the digital department at an entertainment company in NYC. One main objective at this company was to create videos that had the potential to get lots of views, i.e. videos that would go “viral.” As long as the videos were entertaining and attracted lots of eyeballs, they were considered successful.
I began to understand what made these types of videos popular, but I wondered if the producers of videos that dealt with more serious topics followed the same guidelines. Was there someone in every newsroom video department saying things like, “Make that petty theft more entertaining, so it gets more views”?
There are some companies out there who are successful at getting more important stories to go viral – Mashable, BuzzFeed and YouTube are some of the better-known examples. In journalism school, we didn’t learn “the rules” of producing viral news content. Do rules even exist?
Salima Koroma didn’t think her first first out-of-state assignment would be the historic protests over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. She’s been producing video for Time’s online video team for just about two months, and last week they bought her a one-way ticket to Ferguson, Missouri.
Before starting at Time, she graduated from the documentary program at the Columbia University Journalism School, where she produced her own documentary, Bad Rap, and was a producer for NowThisNews. Columbia Visuals talked to Koroma about her experience producing video from Ferguson.
Documentary film program alumni Jeng-Tyng Hong and Matthew Claiborne, both class of 2013, spent their time at Columbia Journalism School working on a short documentary about the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons. They screened their film at the Catskill Mountains Film Festival and their characters use the film to raise awareness about fair treatment in prison.
We interviewed Jeng-Tyng about their film, The Ex-Periment, and what they learned during production.
Filmmakers today have to be their own production companies, PR agencies, and distributors. Columbia Journalism School alum Salima Amina Koroma, class of 2013, exemplifies the way young filmmakers have taken control of all aspects of producing a documentary. (more…)
Luke Malone, CUJ ’13, is an Australian journalist based in New York City, and the producer of “Secrets of the Living Dolls,” a documentary that features men who dress up in elaborate latex female bodysuits.
Documentary photographer Alexandra Hootnick shared the digital contact sheets of some of her favorite photos, from a vigil in the South Bronx, to her coverage of Hurricane Sandy. She told us how she got the shots and why she chose each one.
Lauren Betesh, CUJ '13, was new to video when she started at the journalism school last fall. By the end of the year, she had produced (and has now published) a poignant documentary on autism and the difficulty of finding housing for autistic adults. The most inspiring part? She did it by herself.