How to Create a Professional and Engaging Documentary Promo Video
Dave Dugdale of Learning DSLR Video is no stranger to No Film School, mostly because he has an incredible willingness to learn and is very open about what he does, and does not, know (something I'm sure plenty of us aren't so eager to tell the world). Dave's most recent video is a look into the creation of his first documentary promotional film for a local photographer, and how he went about the process without any prior knowledge or connections. Check it out below:
I already know some of you may point out that giving away your talents for free is a slippery slope. In this case, Dave is trying to gain experience and build up a body of work, and it's a bit of a Catch-22 trying to get paid work when you haven't really done that specific work before. To me, it's a bit different if you are approaching people with an idea, since that job didn't exist in the first place. Either way, I think Dave explained it best why he wanted to do it for free:
When I sent out the email (see below) I told them I would do it for free. Why free? Because that way I would get total creative control. I have done corporate videos before and while they would start off with some amazing ideas that would be very exciting but by the time you were done you ended up with a very safe video that didn’t tell a story that needed to be told in a way I think to create sales, and a CEO reading off a script.
So if I do it for free what is the point, how do I make money? First off it is to show future clients what type of videos you are capable of making, so if you show only the work that you want to do, you will get that kind of work. Secondly I make some money from my tutorials so I told them that I would do it for free if they gave me the rights to make it in to a tutorial.
Here is the video from Anton Lorimer that was the stylistic inspiration for Dave's video:
Having a stylistic influence can really help you when you're just starting out. Whether you're making a narrative or a doc, or something completely different, being able to deconstruct how someone else is creating something can make a big difference in the quality of your final piece. Eventually your work won't look anything like those first videos that inspired you, but in the beginning it can be hard narrowing down where to start to achieve something that has high production values and tells a coherent and engaging story.
Head on over to Dave's site to read more about his experience and check out the letter he sent to prospective clients.
What do you guys think of the video? Do you have any personal experiences that mirror Dave's trying develop a reel?