How do I learn more about being a host for a documentary?

by Tara
(Queen Creek, Arizona, United States)

I'm very interested in hosting investigative short documentaries as a Michael Moore type host/presence in the story. How can I learn more about which scenes or b role footage I should be involved in?

I also want to show more of the crew in a very raw and 'ghost adventures' sort of way. What are some ways I can tell the story, interview, and include the host-like presence in the documentary? I want to take people on a journey into lives and places unknown but I want to be recognized as a host. Vice does great with this and I just want to learn more about how it's done.

Thank you!!!!

Desktop Documentaries | Answer

Hi Tara, thanks for your question.

The best way to learn in filmmaking is by doing. Study the shows you want to emulate and just go out there and do it. I'm curious if you're hoping to be hired for this or if you're planning to produce your own shows. Because in order to be a "host" you will need someone else involved to shoot, at least one other person to hold the camera or a "crew".

Being on camera as the host is pretty straight forward. When you set up an interview, you simply ask the camera person to make sure to get some "wide shots" of you standing with your subject and to make sure the camera turns on you when you are asking the questions or interacting with the person being interviewed.

If you are being fancy, you can have two or even three cameras at the shoot to capture all the angles at once: 1) One of the cameras is pointing at the subject 2) One of the cameras is pointing at you and 3) the third camera is capturing a wide shot of the whole scene. That way, during the editing process you can edit together all three cameras to tell the story with you and the crew in the shot.

As the host, you will also need to think about audio. So you will either need to have your own microphone (a wireless mic is great, something like the Sennheiser EW 112P).. or there needs to be a boom mic operator to move the mic back and forth between you and the person being interviewed.

I hope that helps answer the question "how do I learn about being a host for a documentary?"

Please answer below if this was helpful or ask a follow-up question.

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Jan 17, 2014
Thank you! NEW
by: Tara

Hey there!

Thank you for answering my questions! It was definitely very helpful and I am going to dive in and learn as much as I can! I do have a crew with camera, lights, sound and editing software, I'm just a little nervous about hosting! But with practice hopefully I will get better :)

Thanks again!


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