030 Beware Bad Coaches

Great news! We’re back in production on Voice of Vanilla!
Today I’m going to
– Update you on what’s happening in Madagascar and where we are with the film
– Update you on what I’ve been doing over the past year while we’ve been unable to film
– Tell lesson hard learned from this past year

Learn more about the film at VoiceofVanilla.com

029 Crowdfunding lessons learned

  • Give people your time: make phone calls and email people individually
    • Mass emails have lost all value; mass posts have no value
    • After emailing all your contacts, go to LinkedIn and email those people
    • If you don’t have someone’s email you can find their email using their LinkedIn url and RocketReach.co
    • Make sure to follow up with people, because they will forget
    • Don’t overthink calling or emailing people, just do it like it’s your job
  • Show why your film matters through your social media posts: quotes, stats, but also show purely entertaining stuff like funny videos, memes, or beautiful photos
  • Get some PR to add legitimacy and deepen the conversation around your film (you can only share so much through your campaign)

027 Set your Sony a7iii up for success



3. XAVCs 4K @ 100mbs (Folder 2, Page 1) Select 4k from options (must have Class 10, u3 card SDXC or higher for 4k 100mbs).  Keep in mind there is a 1.2x crop for shooting in 30p @ 4k.  ***Shooting for network TV is always 30p*****

4. S&Q Slowmo. (Folder 2, page 1)  This camera can do both time-lapses and slowmo with this function. To enable, turn the dial on top to S&Q, select your frame rates in options. For slowmo it capture 120fps with no crop! Now it will conform your footage into either a 30p or 24p file automatically, so this is where you select what you want it saved as.

5. AF DRIVE set to FAST.  (Folder 2, page 1)

6. AF TRACK SENSOR set to RESPONSIVE. (Folder 2, page 1)

7.  AUDIO RECORDING LEVELS. (folder 2, Page 2)  ** This is only necessary if using a powered mic such as RODE VIDEO MIC PRO. 

8.  MOVIE W/ SHUTTER ON. (Folder 2, page 3) This enables the shutter button to trigger movie recording. 

9. FINDER MONITOR DISPLAY. (Folder 2, page 6) This fixes the problem of the screen going black when accidentally. BUT IF YOU SHOOT STILLS, YOU’LL WANT TO SWITCH THIS BACK!  

CUSTOM BUTTONS (Folder 2, page 8) 

10.  CONTROL WHEEL. Not set. 


12. C2 – White balance.

13. C3 – APS-C Super 35 mode. 

14. C4 – FOCUS MODE.  Another alternative would be assigning this button as a Focus Hold button (AF / MF Toggle).  

15. MULTI SELECT AUDIO RECORDING. Enabling this does not disable the directional side portions of the button to move the focus window.

16. CENTER OF DIAL – Focus Magnification.

17. LEFT OF DIAL – PEAKING DISPLAY. Peaking will add a color shade to items in focus. Change Color by going to Peaking Setting (Folder 1, Page 13)


19. DOWN OF DIAL – MONITOR BRIGHTNESS.  Change the default to -2, when outdoors, use down button to trigger Sunny Bright mode. 

20. AEL – CENTER LOCK ON AUTOFOCUS. This draws a box around your tracking subject. Must have touch operations enabled. Once armed, select center button and then use finger to touch object to track. 

21. TOUCH OPERATIONS (Folder 5, page 2). Turn on touch operations, no need to change Touch Panel / Pad settings. 

22. FOCUS AREA – EXPAND FLEX SPOT (Folder 1, Page 5) Change Focus area from wide to expand Flexible Spot. 


23. AF ON – GAMMA DISPLAY ASSIST. This adds contrast and color to your washed out Slog or HLG profiles, its only a display LUT, and does not burn onto the footage. 

24. FOCUS HOLD –  CENTER LOCK ON AF. This is another location where you can put the AF HOLD function explained in step 20. Only works if you have a lens with side button such as G-Master lenses from Sony. 

25. AEL – ZEBRAS. Another great tool for exposure.

26.  CLEAR FUNCTION MENU (Folder 2, page 8) clear thru the noise of all the other items stuffed in the menu. By placing the needed items on the second page, (Lower functions, middle slots 3,4,5) 


27.  LOWER 3 – S&Q FRAME RATE. You can now go from SlowMo 120fps to Timelapse with this switch. ****MUST TURN DIAL INTO S&Q position for it to work)

28. FUNCTION LOWER 4 – MARKER DISPLAY.  Guide frames for aspect ratio, center cross hairs, or safety margins. You can select what aspect ratio you want in MARKER SETTINGS (Folder 2, Page 3) 

29. FUNCTION LOWER 3 – PRIORITIZE REC MEDIA. Select card 1 or 2 for recording. 

30. DIAL SETUP (Folder 2 page 8) Select TV / AV.  This reverses the front and rear dials controlling aperture and shutter speed. 

31. POWER SAVER START TIME. Automatically shuts off camera after  5 minutes.  

32. TIMECODE – See video link here.  (folder 5, page 3) https://goo.gl/uvvb3N

33. REC MED SETTING –  AUTO SWITCH ON. (Folder 5 , page 6)

34. MY MENU – FORMAT. Program Format Media card in your my menu. 

Picture Profile: HLG/HLG3? C4/C2? S-log2?

HLG/Cine are easier to grade

S-log 2 for high light scenarios (no low light)

Low light: PP2, black -2, gamma still, black gamma range middle level -2, knee leave alone, color mode pro, saturation -4, color phase 0, color depth (you can play to increase saturation of each color), detail -7 (minimize noise – do your sharpening in post),  

Things that ruin your footage: Crushed shadows, clipped highlights, noise

  • dust on sensor (and keep aperture at  f7 or larger)

Keep a notebook with checklist!!!!

026 Grant writing for documentary film

Process you should go through

  1. Research (reading article, talking to experts, watching films)
  2. Raise money from the people you know who will care most about this – CALL AND TALK TO THEM
  • Seed money; learn what people care about in regards to your topic & what questions they’ll ask; you’ll find the holes in your knowledge and plan
  1. Shoot some footage; lockdown access to your story; create fundraising video
  2. Crowdfunding campaign
  1. Go to website for the International Documentary Association (documentary.org)
    1. Documentary Core Application – standardized application
    2. Sample budget form – 3 different levels
    3. Grants directory
    4. Also lots of videos and webinars (grant writing next tuesday March 30th 2021)
  2. Sundance Collab


Logline: brief catchy summary, 2-3 sentences

  • Who, what, when, where 

Story Summary: synopsis + treatment

Synopsis: expand on your characters and story, short paragraph – elaborating from logline; 1st paragraph of the Story Summary

  • Leads into story summary/treatment (but more digestible than treatment)
  • What is the topic
  • Who is the main character or characters?
  • What activity will that character be doing and during what time period
  • What questions are you, the filmmaker, exploring and in what style
  • Use good ACTION verbs (struggling, probing, confronting, piece together)

Treatment: detail of story arcs, characters, structure, and access. 1-2 pages

  • Expand on the brief synopsis, giving more detail about main character(s), topic, context, and the storyline
  • Lay out the actual story line

Topic summary: explain why this topic is important; expand on the themes, questions, and stakes, 1-2 pages (thesis statement about greater context)

Artistic approach: describe your creative vision; ½ page (verite, interviews, etc)

Impact Statement: Look at the website for that organization and use their exact wording. Then give details for what you will use the money for – they want to make sure the money will be used to move the project forward, not stagnate.

  1. Ask mentors (not your biggest fan) to read and give feedback; ask friends who are in marketing or lawyers
  2. Yes, you need a video. Even if it is totally archival and stock footage, find a way to visually portray your concept for the film. 
  1. Create a spreadsheet!!!
  2. Apply multiple times, talk about when you applied before and what has progressed

025 Interview with Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker. Her work focuses
 on community, cultural representation, and race with a specific focus on both Black and multiracial identity, often with a focus on women and the arts through character-driven narratives. Her work has appeared on Independent Lens, The New York Times, BBC,
 KQED, among others publications. She is a part of two-time Webby award winning If Cities Could Dance filmmaking team and in 2016, she received an Emmy nomination for “Women Dancers Redefine Oakland’s Street Dancing Scene”, published on KQED Arts. She is a
 part of the creative team behind Mixed People’s History, an online story archival project. She was the 2011 George Stoney Fellow at Working Films, and a 2013 BAVC Mediamaker Fellow. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, and George Washington University’s
 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking.

024 How to run crowdfunding campaign pt.2

  1. “Don’t solicit. Elicit.”

I think about this alot listening in on CH rooms. Someone will take the stage and not really describe their project, but ask everyone to go and follow them. But why does anyone want to follow you?

Instead, describe what you’re doing. The people it resonates with will go and follow you without you even asking. It kind of goes back to the idea of “not everyone is your audience”. Just focus on attracting your people. Don’t worry about trying to get “everyone” to your campaign.

In other words, don’t spam.

  1. Update your community
    1. Thank your contributors w/in 24 hrs
    2. Email 1x per week during the campaign, but you can update facebook and twitter more frequently – fb/ig daily, and twitter multiple times a day
    3. Email 1x per month after (unless something extraordinary happens) – this is now your community. Through you they get to make films, so keep them in the loop and they will continue to support your filmmaking
  2. Think beyond money – people may not be able to donate money, but they may be able to donate other things like rewards miles, website development, or music. Seed and Spark allows you to make a “Wish list” so people can see exactly what you need. Utilize this give people in your community the chance to help in other ways.
  3. Fb – events & fawning
  4. Insta – use bit.ly link and always refer to Link in bio
  5. CH and TikTok

023 How to run a crowdfunding campaign

Seed&Spark, Crowdfunding for filmmakers by John Trigonis

  1. Audience research: what do they like??? Figure out your core audience (maybe 3 diff ‘buckets’) and talk to a few people in each bucket. Ask them things like what websites they visit, what celebrities or influencers they follow — helps you craft the style of your campaign
  1. Video: only 90 seconds, according to S&S first 15 sec should show film, and needs to GRAB viewer. DO NOT MAKE IT LONGER THAN 2min
  • If you don’t have footage, find archival footage
  • Even if you do- FIND ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
  1. Determine amount you’ll raise: call as many of your friends and family as you possibly can, and ask them how much they’d be willing to donate. 
  • Fun way to connect or re-connect
  • Adds weight to request

How many people are in your network?

  • S&S says that to raise $10-14k you need 100-200 donors
  • 10% of people you email directly will donate, so that means you need to email 1000-2500
  1. Incentives: 
  • Something you can send right away (shout out, digital photo or song download, digital coloring book)
    • Make sure you’re thanking people right away
  • Something to engage them later (film screening)
  • Avoid stuff you have to mail or that costs money to produce
  1. Make sure your peeps are gonna donate on day 1; S&S says successful campaign raise 30% of goal in first week
  2. Be prepared to continuously engage people throughout the month

022 What equipment do I need for videography

External harddrives (at least 2), SD cards

Handycam vs. DSLR (you don’t need 4k 95% of the time)

Zoom lens w/ f4

Variable ND filter, viewfinder cover 

Wireless lav/shotgun mic (Rode)

Shoulder mount



3pt LED light kit

Sony UPD wireless lav system 

Fast prime lenses


Gear insurance