by Sarah
(Sydney, Australia)

A documentary I have.. Ok, not sure about the title yet. Steve is my dad. He is seriously a left field guy, I am pretty sure he has aspergers. He is extremely intelligent. He went to a smart school and got into Mensa. He has two missing front teeth and gets hassled by the cops and certain people at the church he goes to. He pees while he's talking to me on the phone. He goes to bed at 8pm and gets up at 4am, even when it's really cold.

When I lived with him in my teens, we had a house with a rubber padded room (I'm not kidding...it was a music studio) and 5 mannequins, each with names. One of them was dressed up as the reaper and had a pick axe. I have so many stories.

Besides all the funny stuff...there is a real vulnerable beautiful side to him that I think I could capture on camera. He's like a little child sometimes. He also has a dark side. He is an alcoholic, and when he drinks or has been on a bender he is completely unreasonable and not a very nice person to be around. A completely different person. He reckons he's seen a yowie (a native Australian mythical creature...he is part aboriginal) and I thought it would be really cool to capture him telling that story on camera. Not to go on a mission to explore whether they exist, or support any cause, just because it's a really unique thing that I think would interest others. He has so many other stories.

I would like to know what people think of this as a documentary idea. I have a handheld HD camera and have never done anything like this in my life.

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Jun 01, 2011
Start Shooting NOW
by: Webmaster

Hi Sarah,
I can totally see this as a fascinating and beautiful documentary. I don't think it really matters much what camera you use, the key is to capture your father's uniqueness when it happens. Sometimes that's easiest using the simplest camera you can find. So maybe a Flip camera or some other easy-to-use consumer camcorder. I can forsee that you may have some low-light issues if you are shooting inside his home and most consumer cameras these days are decent at shooting in low light. Your main concern as I see it will be audio. You'll need to make sure you are always close enough if your father starts talking. Otherwise, start shooting TODAY. Do not wait for the perfect moment or until you have the "perfect" equipment. Just start documenting and gathering footage. And call me once you have 100 hours of footage and wondering what to do next. ;)

Good luck!

Jun 02, 2011
Thanks: -)
by: Sarah

Thanks so much for the feedback :-) it feels exciting to share my idea.

I think I will be okay for lighting, but like you, I am concerned about audio. I will need to test my camera and do some samples. most of the time, conditions for filming should be ok but I am worried about there being wind or background noise. I am wanting to film some "doing" shots and most of these would be outside. The hardest one I can anticipate might be filming him in his boat. The camera can be hard to keep still as it id. The wind would be moderate and the light would vary as the boat moves around.

I plan to put together a sampler to get an idea of what works and what the challenges would be.

And lastly, I would just like to say how helpful this website is: -) I am feeling inspired and the articles are great for beginners with little filming experience like me: -)

I will let you know how I go: -)

Thanks again

Jun 04, 2011
wind noise
by: Webmaster

If you're concerned about wind noise, then you should definitely consider investing in a good microphone. A wireless lav that you could hook up directly to your father would be ideal. Otherwise, if you had a helper, getting someone to hold a boom mic is another option. A boom mic is especially a good idea if you're trying to pick up more than one person's voice.

I wrote up a whole article about audio on this page:

Different Types of Microphones

Glad you like the site. It's been a lot of work, but very rewarding when I feel I can help someone with their documentary project. Again, keep me posted and let me know if you have any other questions.

Jan 26, 2012
hello again!
by: Sarah


Well, about six months has passed. During that time, I.went to Europe with the camera I mentioned and it got lost or stolen. My grandfather died and my man sold some assets and gave all us grand kids some $, so I am now keen to buy a new camera :-)

My idea for the foci remains, but I plan to experiment first. I will just start filming to see what does and doesn't work. I might make some bite size pieces so ivan get the hang of editing.

I am also wondering how much I should involve myself on camera. . If I should just be the quiet observer withthe rest of. The audience or if I should have. Some minimal dialogue, or if I .should be on screen for parts of it. Reason being, some qualities are best drawn out in the context of human interacting.

I will keep you posted on developments!

Jan 26, 2012
Thanks for the update
by: Desktop Documentaries

Well hi there again Sarah.. Thanks so much for the update! So glad to know you are moving forward.

As for the question of whether or not you should make yourself part of the documentary.. in this case, I think it would be totally appropriate. I think allowing your father to reveal his personality in various scenarios.. sometimes that could mean you are quiet and let the action unfold in front of you or sometimes that could mean you're interacting. Both are totally fine.

As I re-read your original post explaining your vision for your film and how your father claims to have seen a yowie, a new documentary came to mind that I think would give you inspiration. It's called Bombay Beach. Check it out!

Watch Bombay Beach on Amazon Instant Video

Thanks again for the update Sarah. I'm very curious to see how this turns out.


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