Filmmaking Amateur | How To Find The Story (Day Eight)

by Scott U
(Georgia, USA)

This past weekend I visited a local Civil War battle reenactment in Andersonville, Georgia. Initially, I thought I would go there for an afternoon, get a couple of soundbites (soundbites are very important!) with some video b-roll and make a little news feature for our local paper. As it turned out, I found a great group of people that let me embed myself in their camp. I got way more than soundbites out of the day. I had the beginnings of a real story.

I didn't have a game plan going in other than getting some quick, "this is fun" type quotes from people. As I interviewed the re-enactors, I could see some common threads. Most were ex-military. Most had a strong sense of history. Most were honoring or representing someone in the character that they portrayed. And all of them loved the South and what it did and does stand for. As I interviewed the members of the 53rd Georgia Infantry, Company K, I could tell there was a bigger story developing but I could not put my hands on it.

I planned to go only one day, but I had to make it two in order to flush out some of the ideas. I came back the second day with a prepared line of questions and got some more interviews with the people I had talked to the day before. This only made things worse because now I can more clearly see what the story lines are, but now I know I have to interview them again to get at the details. What started as a day of b-roll gathering has turned into a much bigger project. Here's a short video I put together of the event:

There is another Civil War reenactment event coming up in November that I am thinking about going to and another special one in May. This may turn out to be something interesting or it could be a wild goose chase. Maybe sometimes that's what happens, you track a story for a while and either learn that there is no real story or even worse, you can't find a way to tell the story or maybe you can't even see the story (the worst!).

I think going into future events, I will take the time to create a story line to follow. Of course, I'll be open to letting a story develop too. What a fine line to walk; "I'm going to get what I want!" and "I'll see where things take me."

Do YOU have any experience or advice with documentary storytelling and how to find the story? Share your thoughts/comments below. And let me know what you think of my video above.

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