By Suzanne Cross
After some initial euphoria, alternating with panic, it’s time to settle in with a plan. Booked flights for me, John, and Alexis (the NY filmmaker we linked up with, bringing with her a background of producer/shooter for docu-reality TV), who will meet us in Johannesburg.
The internet is a fabulous tool for action, so I log onto the San Francisco Film Society site and search for their next class. Lucky for me there were two sets of weekend classes on “Editing the Character Driven Documentary” and “Producing and Directing Documentary Films” before we were scheduled to leave.
We sign up for both weekends, 32 hours of cram-documentary basics. At least I would learn the bullet points of film production and maybe how to stay out of trouble. The classes were terrific. I was learning the techniques of keeping an audience engaged in a story and the story parts: launch the quest, show the inciting incident, present the obstacles, and lead to a climax.
On the production side: learning to focus on the audience interest, length of scenes, how to frame an interview subject, lighting needs, and “B-roll” or transition shots. Better than that, I found a new set of empathetic friends in my classes along with support from the instructors.