TIPS FROM A PRO

Retired American TV/Radio Host Dick Cunningham (who worked for ABC and other Networks for decades) presented a special session to all the KWN Teachers in Toronto in August 2008.

In the next hour, Mr. Cunningham said at the start of his session, I want to teach you everything I've learned about film-making in the past 40 years! These are his notes from that presentation!

BASICS

  1. Tell/select stories to which all can relate.  (A few years ago, THRIVE kids put this advice into their own words: Look for stories that other people can connect to, FEEL and remember!)
  2. Remember the ABC Rule of news writing!
    1. Accuracy - research
    2. Brevity - write tight
    3. Clarity- keep it simple

    Follow this rule for any kind of film you make: news, commercial, public service announcement or documentary!!!!

THE STORY

  1. Assemble team
  2. Decide story/topic
  3. Obtain all necessary permissions & releases
  4. Research the story and all background info - Google/library
  5. Line up interviews - start at the top (CEO, president)
  6. Scout location for: lighting - electricity - noise - parking
  7. Storyboarding/script outline:
  8. Put story together in sections - A, B, C

OTHER TIPS

  1. Establish a shot list
  2. Check for propriety locations
  3. Decide on use of tally (red-record) light
  4. Q&A: who, what, when, where, how and why - (avoid yes & no answers)
  5. First question is head slate: name spelling/title and voice-level
  6. Get business card for spelling & titles - (i.e. Robert or Bob?)
  7. Mic held at 6" distance
  8. Mic hand/arm opposite side of camera
  9. ALWAYS wear headphones
  10. Avoid pre-interview interviews - discuss topics only
  11. ALWAYS check playback - often
  12. Do the interviews first!!
  13. Shoot plenty of B-roll (suggested radio: 5:1)
  14. Always shoot with sound
  15. Shoot cutaway shots for jump cuts: exterior shots, signage, reporter cutaways
  16. Pencil-edit the script outline during shoot
  17. Follow and check off shot list

CAMERA ANGLES

  1. Use a tripod where possible
  2. Avoid too many zooms and pullbacks
  3. Dolly or tracking - shopping cart
  4. Atop a step ladder
  5. Waist walk
  6. Street level
  7. Feet
  8. Reflections (mirror, puddle)
  9. Stand-ups ... Walk and talks ... Walking in/out of frame
  10. Always do multiple takes

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  1. Other than on a public street -- you need permission
  2. Press cards are helpful
  3. Music - other than public domain -- you need permission
  4. Check permission for use of visuals, logos, copyrights