Spencer Clarke Sound

Engineer and Editor, for Music and Post

Documentary Film - A Day Elsewhere

When filming in documentary (truthful) style, there are a number of challenges that you don't have to deal with when filming fiction. The first, and arguably most important of them all, is control over the story of the object that you're investigating. Unless you're handing the interviewee a script of what you want them to say (defeating the "truth" in the work), the story is completely up to what they decide to unveil in their interview. Had George not told us the hardest part of his job, we would not have had much to work with in terms of conflict in our story. Of course there were plenty of cool things to Elsewhere, but one of the most perplexing things is how the place has kept itself afloat as simply an artist-in-residence program.

The second challenge of filming documentary-style is scheduling. As a fiction producer, you have all of your days laid out from start to finish before the project even gets rolling. With a documentary style, you are at the mercy of your subject(s). You film when they are available, with whatever equipment you can have on hand. It is possible that you might not be able to rent equipment on short notice as may be required, so you shoot with whatever you have on hand, from DSLR cameras even to iPhone cameras.

One benefit of working in documentary style is in helping someone get a story out to the world. Some people may not be as eloquent as others, and may have trouble telling a story the way they want it to be heard. In the documentary style, you have the opportunity to edit together their phrases, taking out pauses, "and's", and "um's" to make it easier to follow what they're talking about. In the beginning of our interview with George, I had to do a lot of that sort of editing to help piece together what he was talking about while he wasn't really warmed up to the camera.