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First-Time Documentary Filmmaker Andreas Proehl
Lessons Learned, Challenges and Advice To First-Time Filmmakers


Guest Post by: Andreas Proehl
Published: February 14, 2018

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My documentary started in a very unlikely way: a spiritual journey to all four extreme corners of Europe to search for students of "A Course in Miracles". 

I had no idea about camera, lighting, interview style, editing, story telling, financing etc - it all came together one step at a time.

I'm proud to say, three years in the making, it's now done!

The film is called "A Course in Miracles Europe - All You Need is Love.“

Trailer: "All You Need Is Love" Documentary

Watch The Full-Length Documentary


Documentary Idea Inspiration

My passion is to learn and teach the Course in Miracles. And a recurring thought kept coming to me about how to create a documentary about this teaching.

It was a very strange idea because I wasn’t a filmmaker at all, so I had absolutely no basis, no idea to produce a film.

However, I thought, you know, why not give into that thought and just go with it. How difficult could it be, right? (ha ha) Apart from that initial idea, I had really no reference how this was supposed to go.

There was one thought that really inspired me to make the documentary.

I love to travel, so I started to think about the idea to travel to the most extreme outer points in Europe and find the students and teachers of the Course in Miracles, to interview them and to find out about their experiences.



Biggest Challenge

As soon as you get into documentary filmmaking, you realize it’s the most difficult format you could come up with because you have no story line, you don’t know what will happen, you don’t know how to film it, you don’t know what you’re looking for.

You just start filming.

And besides the story, there are so many aspects about filmmaking in general like gear, the cameras and microphones, lighting, interview styles, travels. And to put all of this into one consistent storyline and fulfill that in the editing, it’s completely overwhelming. That was the case for me. 


Andreas Proehl shooting interview in Austria.Andreas Proehl shooting interview in Austria.


The Right Step At The Right Time

My biggest lesson was to trust that the right step would come at the right time and that was the case with Desktop Documentaries and with the amazing support of Faith Fuller.

When I found out about the 7-day Documentary Crash Course at Desktop Documentaries, my heart took a leap of joy.

Being on my own, doing a documentary for the first time, having no clue whatsoever and not even sure it if this is possible, all of sudden you find someone who takes first-time filmmakers by the hand, speaks their language and walks them through the process step by step. That was such a relief for me that I gladly signed up for the course.

Also, Faith was amazing. I remember one incident when I was about to give up the whole project and on THAT day Faith wrote me an email and asked how I was doing. I was struggling with something and I didn’t know how to go on. She gave me the right idea, inspired me and I kept on going.

 



Fundraising Strategy

Funding for my documentary came from several sources. In addition to contributing my own income, I received dear support from friends who believed in the project. I also conducted a crowdfunding campaign to help cover costs for the first two trips and the gear. In all, the entire project cost nearly 20-thousand euros.

Here's the crowdfunding page:

www.visionbakery.com/A-Course-in-Miracles-Film-Europe



Crafting The Story

When I took the crash course, I had already done the crowdfunding campaign.. and the most important question that I had at that point was about THE STORY. About how to organize the material so that it would actually create a consistent story, to know what to look for within the material that I filmed. So I learned about the story arc. That was a big help during the editing process later on.

One thing I found really helpful was to have all interviews scripted, so that was also an idea Faith gave me. In the editing process, this will be gold. We were looking for specific sentences and specific topics in all our interviews and having a script with all the content was absolutely helpful to bring the documentary about.

 


Filmmaking Tools & Gear



Distribution Strategy

My current distribution strategy involves the following:

  • Email lists and Facebook
  • Website to sell DVDs
  • Vimeo On Demand for streaming and download
  • Theme-oriented festivals 

Currently looking into the idea of working with film distributors and starting to submit to film festivals.



Advice To First Time Filmmakers

My advice for first time filmmakers would be that most likely your ideas won’t work. The story will come about in a completely different way than you expect. It won’t mean that the project is failing, just that a new version of your film is waiting to come about through you.

Try not to define it too much. Use the crash course to get the basic ideas how to do it, but then let it come through you. That’s where the adventure is.

It will devastate you, surprise you, inspire you, and it's a real trip. This is what you signed up for.

If that sounds interesting.. and if you have the slightest idea of okay "maybe I can stick with it", give it a go. See what waits for you because the documentary takes YOU on a journey.. and yeah, why not. What else do you have to do!

 

Film Stats
Documentary: "All You Need Is Love"

  • How long to make the documentary: Nearly three years: The interviews began in December 2014, travel/filming from 2015-2016, editing in early 2017, with the final (commercial version) documentary releasing in August 2017.

  • How many people interviewed: 60+ out of which 22 made it into the documentary

  • How many hours of footage shot: 145 hrs

  • How many months of editing: 3 months

  • How many miles traveled: 28.200miles / 54.300kms

  • Cost to make the film: Travels: 12.000€; Gear: 2.000€; Editing: 3.600€; first set of 100 DVDs: 360€

  • Release Date: August 2017



About The Filmmaker

Andreas Proehl is a German-based filmmaker and a teacher of a spiritual path called "A Course in Miracles".

He graduated from University with a Master in Business Management. After working for several companies he started searching for the deeper meaning. He lived at the sea and in the desert, spent 3 years in a modern monastery and with the documentary film he is bringing these insights and skills together.

A Course in Miracles teaches a new way of thinking and Andreas’ idea was to make this essentially intangible topic more tangible, understandable and accessible. He had to go on a journey to re-discover everything that this teaching entails and let go of everything he formerly knew or expected.

The result is a journey to all four cardinal points in Europe, many inspirational interviews with beautiful people and a completed 7 day crash course with Desktop Documentaries. All of which changed his life completely. Today he is a father of a little boy and a step father of a young girl. He organizes festivals and travels to teach the essence of A Course in Miracles. 

Watch A Course In Miracles Film Europe: (Stream/Download): vimeo.com/ondemand/acimfilmeurope

Official Website: acimfilmeurope.com

Personal Website: andreasproehl.com



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