Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Sky Doc Shop Ends Today

This year at the BSDFF, the Doc Shop has been presenting panels and workshops that give people in the filmmaking industry, as well as your average Joe Missoula, the opportunity to learn more about the gritty details of making a documentary. Some of the excellent events this year have included a workshop on making short films, an all-important session on how to get funding for films, and today’s day-long International Pitch Session, in which filmmakers screen works in progress and receive feedback from a panel of industry executives.

Tuesday’s Music in Film panel provided a great example of what the Doc Shop can do, and it proved to be just as fascinating for those outside the industry as for those seeking professional advice. The panel included Jeanie Finlay (the director of Sound it Out), Mark Orton (the composer for The Real Dirt on Farmer John) and Silas Hite (the composer for Robert Williams Mr. Bitchin). They spoke authoritatively on issues such as music permission for films (always ask for it!) and how much to pay a composer for a film (it quite depends on how much you expect them to do.) Orton told a fascinating story about Hans Zimmer’s use of orchestrated samples and he brought up the fact that Zimmer, and others of his big-time ilk, are becoming more and more willing to lend out the services of their musicians to small films for low prices in order to keep their teams working.

The room was packed for this panel, and when it finished I spoke to a few attendees to try to get a sense of who’s been coming to the Doc Shop. I found enthusiastic young filmmakers and students who were grateful for the opportunity to learn from experts in the field. Tice Velde, a Media Arts student at UM, told me that for his work, he saw it as a particularly useful series of sessions. “I know that as a motion designer I’ll probably be doing a lot of doc work, because there’s a lot of work for animators and designers in documentary film,” he said. “So it’s kind of nice to see into the world that I may be working in some day.”

One got a strong sense of the enthusiasm from the composers and directors, and of their desire to help out newbies. “I give away music gratis to up and coming filmmakers,” said Mark Orton. “And once they make money on it, that’s when I ask for a contract.” Words to live by.

Asher Minden-Webb, another Media Arts student, summed up the mood in the Doc Shop. “I like the way they’re doing this,” he said. “They’re giving us more than just the films - they’re giving us access to the people that are making them. It’s pretty cool.”

Article by BSDFF Promo Team writer Andrew Martin