Best Character Actors

November 17, 2011 1 comment

We at AnswerJunket appreciate the little guy. The guy in the background who really ties the scene together, the stars buddy and confidant, the barista at the coffee shop, the homeless guy panhandling (not really, that guy talks to himself and smells awful). We’re talking about the underappreciated character actor! Character actors are the ones who fill out the cast and make the whole movie more lifelike and they often have the most memorable lines and scenes. These actors need to be able to realistically portray a wide range of characters. Where Tom Cruise pretty much plays the same character in every movie, John Turutrro plays an FBI agent, a crazed pedophile bowler, a dumb southerner, and a card shark. What versatility! These are the real actors! Unappreciated no more, we bring you our list of best character actors (in no particular order)!

Danny Trejo

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. From Dusk ‘Til Dawn
    2. Grindhouse
    3. Desparado

Ok, so maybe Danny Trejo isn’t the most versatile actor in the world as he usually plays some kind of tough guy, but damn it he does it better than anyone else out there (probably because he actually is a former convict)! Plus that makes seeing him play a comedic role that much more hilarious. When you’re channel surfing and you suddenly see Danny Trejo, we hope that you stop like we do.

William H. Macy

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Fargo
    2. The Cooler
    3. Magnolia

Macy was nominated for an Oscar for Fargo which he completely deserved, but unfortunately it kind of pigeonholed him in the category of the easily manipulated and taken advantage of, the perpetual underdog. However, you can catch him now in his new HBO show Shameless where he plays a single alcoholic father who’s trying the make ends meet, usually by scamming someone.

John Turturro

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Big Lebowski
    2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    3. Barton Fink

Honestly, Turturro is one of my favorite actors. I could go on with my list of favorite movies of his; Do the Right Thing, The Secret Window, Miller’s Crossing, Rounders, Mr. Deeds. He’s fantastic and what’s even better is that looking over the movies that he has been in! Just look at the range this guy has! Funny, serious, dramatic, outcast, downtrodden, he does it all and he does it remarkably well.

Steve Buscemi

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Fargo
    2. Reservoir Dogs
    3. The Big Lebowski

Another actor that I could not do without. He consistently works with the likes of the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Adam Sandler.  He plays everything from gangsters to politicians to the loveable goofball and he does it all without missing a beat.

Peter Stormare

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Fargo
    2. The Big Lebowski

You probably also recognize him from the television show Prison Break, or possibly for his role in the Volkswagon commercials where he unpimps the auto, or maybe even recognize his voice from the any number of video games and cartoons he’s in. He’s a great actor all around actor that adds to every scene he’s in.

Harry Dean Stanton

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    2. Big Love
    3. Alien

This man has a very distinctive look and voice and once you’ve heard his voice you’ll find him in many places. His raspy southern drawl makes him a memorable character as a lawman, animated character,

John C. Reilly


Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Gangs of New York
    2. Magnolia
    3. Talladega Nights

Given his recent lean (and dominance) towards comedy, it’s easy to forget that he has had unforgettable roles in Gangs of New York, Boogie Nights, and Hard Eight.

James Cromwell

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Green Mile
    2. L.A. Confidential
    3. Babe

If you need a police chief, head of a company, or any older gentleman in a position of authority, look no further than James Cromwell. He owns these roles.

Ted Levine

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Silence of the Lambs
    2. Shutter Island
    3. American Gangster

Levine has made a career of playing memorable characters. To counter act being typecast as a villain, after playing one of the greatest villains of all time Buffalo Bill, he has intentionally played hero roles such as police officers and astronauts.

Alan Rickman

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Die Hard
    2. All the Harry Potter movies

He usually plays a kind of uptight jerk if not villain and if you don’t know who Alan Rickman is then you haven’t been paying attention. His distinct voice and English accent makes him standout in every film he’s in.

Joe Pantoliano

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Matrix
    2. Memento
    3. The Amateurs

God I love seeing this guys work. He’s so smart and really is very diverse. He certainly doesn’t do every role that comes his way and is very particular about the movies he’s in. No two characters of his are the same and it’s brilliant.

Dennis Hopper

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Speed
    2. Easy Rider
    3. Blue Velvet

Ask anyone what their 3 favorite Dennis Hopper movies are and you’ll probably get 3 different answers each time. Always a loose cannon, always unpredictable and always a pleasure to watch.

Joe Pesci

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Home Alone
    2. Goodfellas
    3. Casino

Pesci invented the angry gangster character and plays the part oh so well. The angry he gets the funnier it is. Every mob movie needs Joe Pesci in it!

Christopher Walken

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Deer Hunter
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Suicide Kings

Undoubtedly one of the greatest hosts of Saturday Night Live, Walken’s unique way of delivering lines is unmistakable. During his career he has gone from drama to comedy with fluidity. He is another one of our all time favorites and every film he’s in is a must see.

Gary Oldman

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Harry Potter
    2. The Dark Knight
    3. The Professional

Gary Oldman has been in so many memorable films it’s nearly impossible to just name a few of his best so we challenge you to find a single one that you don’t like!

Andy Serkis

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. Lord of the Rings
    2. King Kong
    3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Though in his most memorable films you don’t exactly get to see his face, he certainly owns the characters that he brings to life.

John Goodman

Our favorite movies of his:

    1. The Big Lebowski
    2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    3. Raising Arizona

John Goodman has given us some of our all time favorite characters. If even the thought of Walter Sobchak doesn’t crack you up you may be suffering from severe depression.

Honorable Mentions

Here’s a short list of actors who we felt were more than character actors or character actors who are great but not greatest ever.

  • John Lithgow
  • J.K. Simmons
  • Sam Elliot
  • James Rebhorn
  • Stephen Tobolowsky
  • Harvey Keitel
  • John Malkovich
  • Feel free to discus our list and tell us some of your favorite character actors!

Thoughts On Unpaid Internship Lawsuit

November 10, 2011 1 comment

If you’re into the movie business you’ve probably heard of the lawsuit going on between the 2 unpaid interns who worked on Black Swan and Fox Searchlight. Basically what it boils down to is this, Hollywood used them like they have been using unpaid interns since the dawn of film. That is to say, they clean, get coffee, do PA work (meaning they tell people they can’t walk or stand there and also clean and get coffee), and they generally get taken advantage of. The problem is that the US Labor Department has guidelines as to what constitutes an unpaid internship. The guidelines are:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training receives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The complaint by the 2 unpaid interns is that they were doing work that should have been done by paid employees and they did not receive any educational benefit from the internship. My thoughts on the subject are that Hollywood, and other entertainment industries, have been abusing unpaid interns for far too long and it’s time to put a stop to it. They have been over worked, taken advantage of, and if you complain you get black balled and never get to work again. Now it’s time to pay in cash.
However! Here are some further things to think about. Doesn’t it benefit the interns to just be there and observe? Putting them in the same place at the same time as some important people certainly has its benefits and enables them to make connections. Given the opportunity, wouldn’t many people volunteer to work on a major motion picture to do the same work? Also, think about the long term implications of this. How many unpaid interns are used on productions every day? The answer is LOTS! Hundreds! Think production companies are suddenly going to just decide to pay those hundreds of people an hourly wage and the overtime pay which occurs daily? Also, don’t many colleges require students to complete an unpaid internship in order to graduate?
Leave your opinions on the lawsuit and its implications in the comments section and let us know what you think!

You Too Can be a Super Hero Zombie!

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment

We’re not sure about you guys, but we get pumped for Halloween! When you have a great costume idea, you’ve got to make it yourself! None of those cheap, pre-made costumes you get at your local Halloween store that they sell a million of. No! You’ve got to make it and it’s got to be original. It has got to be awesome.

So personally I start thinking of costume ideas some time around November 3rd.  Mostly because I’ve got all the creative juices flowing from having just made a costume a few days ago.  So, naturally by the time October rolls around again I’ve completely forgotten everything and can’t think of anything until about a week before.

This year I was a super hero zombie. Not like a zombie Spider-man, or Superman, or Wolverine. My own super hero. I guess I kind of had created a backstory for my guy, which I didn’t share with anyone.  If anyone wants to know it just comment below.

So the costume contained

  • a camo shirt that was partly burned
  • long johns with american flag underwear on the outside (the longjohns are more about staying warm)
  • a custom made latex super hero mask that I made myself
  • zombie makeup
  • a latex burn

Below you’ll find my instructions on how to do all of the above so that you too can be your own super hero zombie. Or if you want to take any of the individual things and do that, that’s cool too.

Latex Super Hero Mask

To make your own super hero mask here are the things you’ll need:

  • A clean, smooth, plastic mask template
  • Liquid Latex
  • Some type of make sponge/applicator
  • Baby powder/talcum powder
  • Makeup brush
  • A very sharp knife (because liquid latex is a pain to cut)

Using the make up sponge, put a layer of liquid latex on the template mask in an area a little larger than you want your final mask to be. Let this layer dry, which should only take about 5 minutes per layer, maybe longer depending on how thick you slather it on. Once that layer is dry, add another and another.  In the example below I’m only applying one but you should apply about 10-15 layers total.

After it’s dry it will still retains a good amount of stickiness, so go ahead and dust a little bit of powder on it. This will prevent it from sticking to itself while you peel it off. Next outline the shape you want for your final mask on the latex. This way once you take the latex off you’ll know where you need to cut. When you’re ready to pull the latex off, go slowly and brush the powder between the latex and plastic to make it easier to peel. The latex does hold together, but it will rip and stretch if you pull too hard or too fast.

Once you’ve pulled the latex from the plastic you can cut it to the shape you have outlined. Once you’ve got the shape, you’ll probably need to make the eye holes a little bigger, so get a friend and hold the mask up to your face, and have them outline how far you need to widen the eye holes. After you have it shaped correctly, you can paint it however you like, using cream or grease paint. Once it’s painted you should probably dust it with a little powder to make the paint stick. To attach it to your face, just use some spirit gum.

 

Zombie Make-Up

Rather than bore you with all of the details on how I did my zombie make up, I’ll just give an overview and give the videos I used as tutorials.

I couldn’t find the correct color I wanted for my zombie skin. There was either pure white, like a clown would have, or grey. I wanted a just dead look so I mixed the white and grey and found something I could work with. I rubbed that all over my face, and you don’t have to worry about it being smooth or equally spread all over, cause you’re a damn zombie! Then draw a black line just under each check bone, at the temples, under and above the eye,  and just above the brow ridge. Then blend them into the white to add some depth and the appearance of sunken features. After you do that, use a stipple sponge and use some purple and blot that in small areas of your face. This will give the appearance of burst blood vessels. Liberally apply blood to the mouth region and you’re done. For more details, check out the videos below.

Burn

I did my burn ahead of time, mostly because I did not want to apply liquid latex to my arm which is where I wanted the burn. The reason I didn’t want this is because I liquid latex will bind to your hair and and when you pull the latex off, it will rip your hair out at the roots, even the tiny ones.  So I used a shiny piece of cardboard and put a couple of layers of latex down, then tore some toilet paper into thin strips and put that on the wet latex, then added more layers or latex. Then I painted it to look like a burn. For a more detailed description on how to make a more realistic burn, take a look at this question from our main site http://answerjunket.com/questions/889/how-can-i-make-a-realistic-looking-burn

If you’re at all interested in seeing the final costume you can find a picture below. As for the mask I’m wearing in it, I used the correct amount of layers and it held together well, but I wanted it to look a little weathered and torn so I didn’t trim the edges. Unfortunately you can’t see the awesome detail of the burn that I have on my neck but I assure you, it was awesome and narrly.

Top 10 Best Horror Movies

October 27, 2011 2 comments

In honor of Halloween, we here at AnswerJunket have decided to compile our own list of the best horror/Halloween movies. We have assembled a team, deliberated every horror movie at length, identified the positives and negatives of each and formed this list from the strictest criteria. Just kidding! We got plastered one night and fought for an hour.  Happy reading!

#10 Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is the FIRST horror film ever. Make no mistake about it this is the vampire story of Dracula.  They did not have the rights to make Bram Stokers’ Dracula and so the film was largely destroyed as the result of lawsuit brought by Bram Stokers’ widow.  It is black and white.  It does not have sound. It does not require discussion to be on this list.  You should see it.  By the way, that thing about sun light killing vampires? Yeah, that got started with this movie.

#9 The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project was the first found-footage film and it changed the way that movies are marketed.  Anyone who was alive at the time, remembers the huge media storm around this film.  Marketed as real found-footage of a documentary gone wrong, it was the center of its own media circus.  People either loved it, or hated.  Most importantly, we find it scary as hell.

#8 28 Days Later (2002)

We had a difficult time trying to decide between 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead.  But this is a list of best horror films, not most classic.  28 Days Later is much more exciting, thrilling and horrifying.  Complete with running zombies on fire.  Can’t argue with that.

#7 The Ring (2002)

Tell me this movie didn’t scare the crap out of you! Tell me you didn’t almost crap your pants! This movie is scary, thrilling, and stylistic.  The movie will keep you up at night and is beautifully done.  The cinematography will blow you away as well as the story itself.  If you haven’t seen the original Japanese film Ringu, you should check that out as well.

 #6 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Directed by Roman Polanski, this movie will leave you saying, “What the hell man?!”. Pretty scary, awesome, and pretty high on the scale of messed up psychological things.  We like that!

#5 Halloween (1978)

Personally, this is one of my all time favorites. We wanted to limit the number of “impossible to kill” murderers (Jason, Freddy, Michael) to just 1, but in my mind Halloween is at the top.  Directed by John Carpenter, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, the amazing soundtrack, set in a Midwestern Anytown, a psychotic killer out to kill off the last of his family while being hunted by his own psychiatrist! God, what’s not to love!

#4 House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

If this Rob Zombie movie does not freak you the eff out, you are a truly disturbed individual.  This family of freaks and murderers is in a class of their own, and you should meet them.

#3 The Exorcist (1973)

A true classic and a truly scary movie.  It’s difficult for any film to withstand the test of time but this one does the trick.  So many classic scenes and quotes.  Based on a true story and what’s even more scary is the curse surrounding the film itself.  Check that out and tell us that doesn’t send chills up your spine.

#2 The Shining (1980)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Stephen King, and starring Jack Nicholson, this iconic film is amazing in every aspect and should be owned by everyone.  If you haven’t seen it then what the hell are you waiting for?

#1 Psycho (1960)

The master of Horror, Alfred Hitchcock, really out did himself with this one.  I think that this is the first movie that really scared me.  And what an ending! No one scares like Hitchcock, and this is him at his finest.

Feel free to discuss our list and create your own below.  Let us know some of your favorites!

History of 3D Movies: A Menace For Life

April 28, 2011 1 comment

Are you as tired of 3D movies as I am? Good! You should be! They’ve been around almost since the dawn of film itself and have fallen in and out of interest only to come back again for more.  Since the year 2000 there have been too many 3D films to count, and since 2008 alone there have been over 111 major motion pictures released in 3D. Lets take a look at some of these winners: Clash of the Titans, Step Up 3D, The Last Airbender, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, A Christmas Carol, My Bloody Valentine.  This reads like a list of movies that I would rather endure serious testicular trauma  than sit through. So why, dear god why, does this keep happening? Why can’t 3D movies just die and stay dead? There are some good reasons.

At this point you may want to check out the answerjunket website if you’re not familiar with how 3D movies work.

Lets start at the beginning. This all started in the 1890s when  this genius:

William Friese-Greene, patented the first 3D movie making process. First he invented that crazy camera, seen above, which would record 2 rolls of film simultaneously from 2 different positions to replicate eyes.  Then all he had to do was project 2 images on a screen and have his audience look through a stereoscope.  Which is why we have all the great 1890s 3d movies! Wrong. The stereoscopes at the time were about the size of a minifridge, thus making it rather difficult to stylishly attach it to someone’s head and so they were relegated to nickelodeons. Then during the Great Depression, they were forgotten about almost entirely.

Between 1930 and 1950, 3D movies began making a gradual comeback because in 1932 Edwin H. Land invented Polaroid, or polarizing, lenses.

He probably went on to do some other cool stuff too, but these lenses only allow light traveling on certain wavelengths to pass through.  To utilize this for 3D movies, theaters would need to buy fancy new projectors as well as paint their screens silver, hence silver screen by the way, because matte white messed up the reflection of the projection. Theaters weren’t too keen on spending a bunch of money on all of that but some did and things started rolling again. Then that whole World War 2 thing happened and it killed the party.

Then in the 1950s, studios were losing big to television and they needed a hook. Enter full color film and round 3 of 3D. The post war economy was booming and theaters owners were ok with spending big to please the consumer.  So when Polaroid lenses combined with full color film it was pretty awesome. So awesome in fact that there was an explosion of 3D movies starting  in 1952 with the first feature length 3D color film, Bwana Devil. The period between 1952 and 1955 became known as the golden era of 3D and included the movies House of Wax, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and even Dial M for Murder.  And then people just kind of got sick of it.

For the next 20 years not a lot happened. In 1960s there was the movie The Mask, which was mostly 2D except the parts where the guy puts on the tribal mask (yes it is the same plot as the Jim Carrey one minus Cameron Diaz). Around the same time some guy decided to just overlay the 2 prints on a single film reel, that way they didn’t have to hassle with running 2 projectors synchronized to view a 3D movie.  The only down side was that the film wasn’t as clear and crisp. By the way, the guy who had that idea is named Arch Oboler:

He was also the dude that wrote, directed, and produced the first color feature length 3D movie, Bwana Devil.

Then in the 1980s, in what can only be described as a cocaine fueled frenzy, studios started churning out 3D movies again. Specifically making every third in a series horror movie 3D, ie Jaws 3D,  Amittyville 3D, and Friday the 13th Part 3. I guess because the title pretty much writes itself. Though since the technology hadn’t really changed in the last 30 years, and once you’ve seen one 3D shark attack you’ve seen them all, people got tired of  the same old cheap looking 3D movies.

Of course there were some who still saw a glimmer of hope in 3D technology.  And those bastards are IMAX. After most had given up on the technology IMAX theaters were still crazy about it and went as far as to figure out how to mathematically sync the 3D films to get rid of those awful headaches that people had been getting from 3d movies from the start. Disney had also stuck around and was playing around with the technology creating 4D film rides, where there are hydraulic seats, lasers, fog and etc.  The 2 combined and created movies such as T2 3D, Honey I Shrunk the Audience, and Wings of Courage.

This brings us to James Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss, which was a 3D HD documentary about the sunken Titanic.  This film, while lacking a naked Kate Winslet, was still pretty amazing.  Then of course there was The Polar Express in 2003 which was a complete game changer. Not only was it the first feature length animated 3D movie but despite opening in 3D on just under 2% of screens, 3D brought in 25% of the profit. Think about that for a moment. That is 14 times as much profit per screen as 2D. The Polar Express was the film that made 3D, not only a financially viable option, but a sure thing for big bucks.

Then of course James Cameron came back for more with Avatar, which was also amazing in 3D and the highest grossing 3D film of all time.  I happened to see it in IMAX 3D and it really was amazing, like a whole other world.  Movies like avatar prove that there is a place for 3D in film.  The reason movies like Avatar, Toy Story 3, Ghosts of the Abyss, and The Polar Express are great and tremendous looking is because they are done right, filmed with 3D cameras or the animated equivalent.  With digital film it is all too cheap and easy to just add the 3D is post production, which looks god awful, to make some more money. Which is how we end up with Clash of the Titans and Superman Returns.

So when you’re sitting through Transformers 3D, and I know most of you unfortunately will because they keep making the damn things, you can curse William Friese-Greene, Arch Oboler, Disney, James Cameron, and Tom Hanks.

For those of you who are interested, we have instructions on how to make your own 3d movie on a budget but not have it look cheap, the rest of you post your thoughts on 3D below.

Categories: 3D, Movies

Fundamental Flaws, and Fixes, of Documentaries

We here at Answer Junket are big fans of documentary films and why shouldn’t we be? The first films ever to be created can be considered to be documentaries, recording every day events to play as a novelty.  Just think of the Lumiere brothers “Arrival of a Train”.   You could argue that “Nanook of the North” is one of the first modern documentaries, even though much of the film itself was staged.  Of course since those films have been made, many technological advances have allowed filmmakers create films such as Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line, the popular and awesome series Earth, and Supersize Me.  Though there are many subjects for documentaries, they all have some inherent problems, just by virtue of being a documentary, that the filmmaker has to work through.  And that, friends, is what we will be discussing today and we’ll try to provide some tips for those of you who may be filming your own documentary.

The first thing that you have to decide on, obviously, is your subject.  What is it that your film will be about? Try to take the size and scope of your subject into account.  If you’re trying to make a documentary on food, you might need to narrow that down a bit.  There’s a whole network dedicated to that.  Or if you’re trying to cover the Civil War, that is going to be a very long movie with tons of information.  Why not try to narrow it down to just certain battles? You should also take your audience into account.  Is this going to be something that people are going to find compelling and interesting? That isn’t to say there isn’t something to be said for having unique interests, but if you’re making a movie then you’re making it for an audience and not yourself.

You’ll next need to determine what the objective of your film is.  Is your objective to change something or to prove a point? Or is it just to educate your viewer? Truly a documentary should be unbiased and fair.  It is not your job as a filmmaker to tell people what to think, but only to provide the viewer with information so that they can make their own decisions.  You must remain neutral, which doesn’t mean you can’t have a point with your film.  Take the movie Supersize Me.  Obviously the point of the movie is fast food is bad for you and you should eat it sparingly.  No where in the film is that said by the filmmaker.  He goes through his experience, meets with medical professionals, and documents it all. Once the filmmaker looses their objectivity it becomes very difficult to stay neutral, which can make it difficult for your morals.  There are certain documentary filmmakers, who are overweight and wear hats, that have a difficult time remaining neutral and this has led to some moral issues in the editing room.  We’ll get to more of that soon enough.

Once you have your documentary film idea and you know your objective, you need to decide how you’ll cover it.  I can only really think of 2 ways documentaries can be done: Interviews or Passive Observer, or a combination of both.  You can do a series of interviews with specialists, your subject, witnesses, really anybody with an opinion on your subject.  You can also go the fly on the wall approach and just watch things unfold, maybe using voice over to describe some of the general information or more difficult things to understand.  Each approach has its ups and downs.  If you go the interview route there are a few things you’ll have to remember.  Keep the phrasing of your questions in mind.  In your final product, you won’t be using the audio of the question being asked and you’ll just be using the answer so you’ll have to make sure that your subject’s answer to your question can also work as a standalone statement.  Example:

Interviewer: “Did you see the guy rob the bank?”

Subject: “Yes”

Your subject just saying “Yes” will provide no information to your audience when presented by itself so you’ll have to ask the question in such away so that you draw out more information or have the person repeat the question in their answer:

Interviewer: “So you heard the alarm. Then what happened”

Subject: “I saw the guy run out from the bank with a big sack with a dollar sign on it”

Lots more information and a standalone sentence that will make sense by itself.  Also if you take the interview route, you can head over to the AnswerJunket website and find out how to light an interview, how to frame people for an interview, and how to conduct an interview.

During filming you’ll encounter several fundamental flaws of a documentary.  You’ll find that 2 things will happen: it will be impossible to stay completely neutral, and as soon as you turn your camera on people change the way they act.  Since people change the way they act when they know they’re being filmed, it really kind of kills your documentary right there because you’re not documenting reality anymore.  You’ll also have to make some moral decisions as well. Do you break up the huge fight and call the police, or do you allow it to happen and document the event on film?

Another place you’ll find some moral dilemmas is in the edit room.  Editing documentary footage is kind of like putting together a puzzle while you’re creating the puzzle.  You can kind of cut and paste everything to make it fit whichever way you want.  Once your footage is shot and people have said what they said, it may be very tempting to make it seem like someone is saying something that they’re not.  Some documentarian’s, such as Michael Moore, have really made a career out of this.  Taking events and constructing them in such a way to make a point, rather than as they actually occurred.  To me, this is morally abhorrent and makes you a liar and can often times lead to lawsuits.  I believe Michael Moore has been on the receiving end of more than a few lawsuits, though I’m not sure of the outcomes.  You can of course lay some audio over a different video to achieve voice over narration, and you can even do it in such a way that you’re making fun of the speaker, but you can’t make it look like they’re saying something they didn’t.  And of course if you don’t have editing software already you’ll have to decide which editing software to use.

If you’re making a documentary or thinking of making one, good for you! Documentaries are every bit as legitimate and interesting as narrative films, and with the speed films are reusing ideas documentaries might be the only original genre left.  Don’t feel like your subject is too big or that you can’t make a difference.  Supersize Me changed the way millions of people look at the way they eat and The Thin Blue Line got a guy wrongly convicted of murder released.  You don’t need a big budget to do a documentary and most places will be more than willing to sit down for an interview and grant you a lot of access in order to get some publicity.

Feel free to list some of your favorite documentaries below and if you have any questions about film-making, or film in general, please come and visit us at Answer Junket – A Filmmaking Q&A Community.

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