Preface To The Third Edition

Some learned sage is once reputed to have said "The only constant is change." Those were indeed words spoken in wisdom.

About five years ago, I pushed away my pen (actually word processor) after completing the second edition of this book. I was happy. I could take a holiday. Now I could lie low for at least ten years before it would be necessary to update the text. Well, I was wrong once again.

New equipment, new broadcast systems, new approaches, and new filming methods, not to mention the Web and digital video, have all forced me to reconsider how one approaches documentary filmmaking in the twenty-first century. The fruits of that thinking underpin this new edition.

Again, the emphasis in this book is on what to say and what to show, and how to do both these things in the best possible way. So this is a book about storytelling—how to tell great and moving stories about fascinating people, whether they be villains or heroes.

My goal in this new edition has been to enlarge and amplify certain key elements that were discussed in the earlier texts. Thus, the chapter on editing has been revised to take into account the massive strides in the use of nonlinear editing. Again, because cable TV stations like Discovery and A&E demand such precise and exacting proposals, I have provided even more examples of how one accomplishes these tasks. Budgeting has also been rethought, with the examination of a fairly complex budget example to show how it is all done. The chapter entitled "Staying Alive" has also been expanded to show in more detail how European and U.S. stations approach documentary, and how the Web can help you in finding your market.

I have also added a new chapter entitled "Family Films." This seems to me a genre that has been growing by leaps and bounds these last few years; thus, a few words on its possibilities and its pitfalls seemed to me very necessary for both new and mature video and filmmakers.

Once more, many friends helped in providing stimulating ideas, provocations, and assistance, namely, Henry Breitrose, Deann Borshay Liem, John Marshall, Len McClure, Russell Porter, Michael Rabiger, and Ken Paul Rosenthal. To all of them my thanks. Dr. Victor Valbuena and the staff of Ngee Ann Polytechnic also offered me wonderful general assistance during my five-month sojourn in Singapore. The stay will not be forgotten.

Extra special thanks must go to John Else, Jon Fox, Jan Krawitz, Minda Martin, Lilly Rivlin, and Steve Thomas, who took time off to discuss their films with me at length and, in four cases, allowed me to use excerpts from their work. Again, along with thanks, I would also like to acknowledge that all the script or document extracts used herein retain the copyright of the original owners.

This is my third book for Southern Illinois University Press, and no one could have a better patron. Here, my thanks go in particular to Rick Stetter, new friend, and to Jim Simmons, my favorite editor and drinking buddy. Finally, I would like to express gratitude to my copy editor, Marie Maes, and to Tirtsa Elnathan, who was always there for me.

Film Making

Film Making

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