In this Film Courage video interview, documentary filmmaker Stuart Paul shares his tips on ‘A Writer’s Guide to Making A Documentary.’ He uses examples from his doc The PROJECT US (now on Kickstarter) chronicling the unexpected friendship and collaboration between Linda Lack, a dancer and movement therapist in her 70s, and Inksap, a 24-year-old guerrilla artist as they take over Los Angeles with their own brand of movement street art. PROJECT US crowdfunding campaign will end midday Wednesday, April 24th, 2019.
A Writer’s Guide to Making a Documentary by Stuart Paul of PROJECT US – Now on Kickstarter!
Hi, I’m Stu Paul and this is a Writer’s Guide to Shooting a Documentary.
This is going to be me taking you through what I learned while shooting my own documentary (PROJECT US).
“You need to look at yourself not just as an artist, but as a manager of your own time.”
Stu Paul, PROJECT US
The thing is when you are making your own movie you do have to be your own boss and that means you’re the one making decisions. You need to look at yourself not just as an artist but as a manager of your own time.
You have a certain rhythm to your life as a writer and that’s going to go away. That’s the same with a narrative film but especially if you are a one-man or one-woman show and you’re shooting this and you’re running sound and you’re producing. That means that every night you are charging your batteries, you are offloading footage from your SD card, you are formatting your cards. Your life will be thrown into a certain amount of chaos .
Finding The Story
The first point I want to make is that your skills as a writer are your most valuable asset. It’s the ability to observe the world around you, to imagine. And the tools you have with structure, your understanding of character and conflict. These are the things that not only make a good screenplay, they are also crucial to making a good documentary.
I saw the story of PROJECT US unfolding in front of my eyes. I go to a yoga studio where one of the documentary subjects runs her movement therapy classes. And so I saw when there was a drunk driver that crashed into her building. I saw them rebuilding and her struggles trying to put her world back together.
And I was there the morning she found this piece of street art on her building and fell in love with it and heard as she struggled to get in touch with the artist and heard the story when they finally met and connected and had this amazing creative collaboration that led to their idea to make street art together so that triggered the writer in me. I saw the scene in front of me of this 70-year-old woman (Linda Lack) and this 20-year-old artist (Inksap) going out into the streets of Los Angeles together and that image that contains the story was what drove me to say Hey, I think there’s a story here, I think there’s a documentary. Can I shoot it?
They didn’t know how they were going to meld their art forms (her movement and his street art) to make something new…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
**Note – This video was edited by Heather Mathews
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Occurrence at Mills Creek is a psychological horror film that examines the dynamics of strong female characters against a supernatural backdrop through failing reality. Now on Indiegogo until April 17th, 2019.