Ask the Doc Doctor

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Looking for the Perfect Producer? Keep Looking!

In her 7th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks the myth that waiting for the "right" producer will dissolve all of your film's problems.


Waiting by the phone. Photo by Alan Cleaver.

In her 7th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks the idea that Ms. or Mr. Right producer is just a phone call, or Facebook chat away... and once together your film will live happily ever after.

Myth #7

“I’ll go on with the film when I find the right producer.” Keep looking!

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Don't Worry, We'll Fix it in Post

In her 6th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi asks: What's smarter, edit in post or plan ahead?


Doc Doctor suggests balancing techno-perfection with believing in the magic of post. (Photo by angusf.)

In her 6th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi examines production priorities. Should storytelling trump technical perfection? What do you think?

Myth #6

"All technical glitches, or disasters, can be avoided with preparation."

Wait, what about those who say:

"Obsessing over technology is a waste of time I could devote to the story."

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Is Narration a Storytelling Red Flag?

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi explores the myth: What's so terrible about narration?


The use of narration is an oft-debated topic in documentary filmmaking. (Photo by brtsergio.)

Is voiceover a red flag for bad storytelling? Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi enters the debate on whether or not narration can be a creative tool and explores the prejudices associated with the use of voiceovers, suggesting why documentary filmmakers may want to consider the device when crafting stories.

Myth #5

“Narration in a documentary is bad storytelling.”

Says who?

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Should You Put Yourself in Your Documentary?

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi explores the myth, "If the structure doesn’t work, put yourself in the film.”


Doug Block's <i>51 Birch Street</i> is an example of a filmmaker successfully using himself in his film.

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi explores whether or not putting yourself as a character or narrator in your documentary film will solve structure problems. Using her expertise as a story consultant for over 300 documentaries, scripts and fundraising trailers, Fernanda discusses whether your presence will make or break your film, by showing you when it works and when there may be a better solution.

Myth #4

“If the structure doesn’t work, put yourself in the film.” And everything will magically work? Not quite.

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Story versus Marketing

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks myths of good stories v. good marketing.


<i>The Blair Witch Project</i>, good story or good marketing?

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi discusses how to find an audience for your film. Is it the story that grabs viewers, or is it all about the marketing? Using her expertise as a story consultant for over 300 documentaries, scripts and fundraising trailers, Fernanda breaks down the statistics on just how much is in the directors hands, and how much is just good marketing. Don't miss out on the Doc Doctor's structure and trailer workshops coming up this month. Learn more about it at her website, www.documentarydoctor.com.

Myth #3

“A good story will find its audience no matter what.”

or

“Good marketing can make any story succeed.”

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Keep at it and the Story will Arrive, Right?

Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks the myth: “If I keep shooting or editing, the story will come to me, eventually.”


Coninuous filmming will not always lead to a solid story, says the Doc Doctor.

In the second installment of her latest column for The Independent Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi breaks down the common myth that continuous shooting and editing will eventually lead to a story and highlights common ruts that all filmmakers fall into at some point in the career, from following a stale formula to spotting the difference between story and storyline.

Myth #2

“If I keep shooting or editing, the story will come to me -- eventually.”

Practical?

The myth in all its glory

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: No Conflict, No Film?

In her new column, "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi explores the myth: “If you don’t have a conflict you don’t have a film.”


A still from Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Oscar nominated documentary, "The Garden."

In a brand new column for the Independent, Documentary Doctor Fernanda Rossi, story consultant for the 2009 Oscar nominated documentary, The Garden, directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (view the trailer here), will expose the myths of documentary storytelling. This month, Rossi tears down a common misconception to which many filmmakers subscribe: No conflict? No film.

Introducing....Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela"

The Doc Doctor profiles the making of Thomas Allen Harris's latest documentary, "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela."


The subjects of Thomas Allen Harris's documentary, "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela."

This month, Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi, breaks down the making of Thomas Allen Harris's latest documentary, Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (view the trailer here), which explores Harris's journey to South Africa to confront the death of his stepfather who, with his eleven comrades, spoke out against the apartheid system and helped raise support for Nelson Mandela in the 1960s.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: Made In L.A.

The Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Almudena Carracedo's "Made In L.A."


Director/Cinematographer Almudena Carracedo filming in the street.  Credit: Felicity Murphy

The Doc Doctor, Fernanda Rossi, checks out Made In L.A. (See the trailer here), a documentary that takes a look at the experiences of three immigrant women fighting for their rights as they struggle, working in the garment sweatshops of Los Angeles.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Soy Andina"

The Documentary Doctor takes a look at filmmaker Mitchell Teplitsky's "Soy Andina."


A still from Mitchell Teplinsky's "Soy Andina," which took him over six year to complete.

The Doc studies Mitchell Teplitsky's first film, Soy Andina (check out the trailer) and takes a behind-the-scenes look at how Teplitsky went from marketing director to successful filmmaker living in Peru. This October, the Doc will be presenting her signature workshops on story structure and fundraising trailers in Tucson, AZ and San Francisco, CA. For details check www.documentarydoctor.com. Also, check out the Doctor's previous Anatomy columns.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

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