Digital documentary workshop

I’ve never really done documentary film before, I’ve shot short videos at events I’ve been at and I’ve done plenty of documentary photography but film is one I’ve always wanted to explore more so it was exciting to get to do that in this workshop.

We started the workshop by making short ‘Vox-pops’ where we asked people about what their opinion of Leeds was. We only asked people within the college though so mostly people who have chosen to come to Leeds. I think we got a good mix of staff and students in our Vox-Pops which made our video seem a lot more varied in the end.

We were then shown the 5D cameras and how to set them up and began planning our short documentary to film with them. We brainstormed ideas and settled on exploring the supposed rivalry between the University of Leeds (UOL) and Leeds Beckett University. We decided to interview students from both and ask them several questions to gather varying opinions about the rivalry.

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Once we’d settled on these, we decided to go to UOL to start interviewing students first because it was closest. We divided up the labour equally, two of us on setting up equipment and filming, one person interviewing and the others location scouting and getting people to interview. We started by taking some shots of the university to contextualise our work and then set up the camera and the mic in front of the UOL sign so it would be obvious that we were talking to UOL students. We checked the sound and framing of our shot and then got the others to start asking people to interview.

Many people were on their way to lectures so it took a while to get people to talk to us and some people were very rude in their refusal but we persevered and got several people to talk to us. I think we got a good variety of students to talk to us about UOL and they all had varied opinions which was good.

We then went down to Leeds Beckett and set up in front of their sign which was unfortunately next to the main road and it was very windy which meant we had a lot of background noise to our footage which we couldn’t edit out without getting rid of people’s talking. People at Beckett seemed a lot more open to talking to us and we got all the footage we needed at Beckett very quickly so we had plenty of time to edit everything.

When we got back to college, we discovered that we had much more footage than we needed so we had a selection of opinions and we could choose which clips we liked the best for our final documentary. We weren’t as efficient at editing as I would have liked because we didn’t have much time for it so some of the cuts were very abrupt and with more time, could have been much better.

I think we collaborated well together, dividing the workload evenly and sharing ideas throughout the process of making our documentary.

To improve our documentary, I’d have liked to be able to include all of our footage so we had a rounded view from the students. It also would have been good to interview people outside of either University to see if the supposed rivalry is obvious to people who don’t attend the unis and aren’t biased towards one or the other. I think we could have edited the footage better as well and made the topic we were presenting much clearer and the documentary as a whole much smoother and a more professional product.

Before this workshop, I was reluctant to work collaboratively but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I couldn’t have done as good a job as we did on my own at all. It has helped me view collaboration with less adversity and made me be more open to working with others, improving my team-working skills quite a bit which will help me quite a bit in the future.

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