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Best Camera For Documentary Filmmaking

Unearthing the Past: From Independent Filmmaking to Social Change  June 18, 2013 – 10:31

Wu Wenguang,considered the father of independent Chinese documentary film,has since 2005 slowly but surely been handing over the camera to people on the margins and to younger generations of Chinese documentary filmmaking. In 2010 Wu and Caochangdi Workstation initiated the Folk Memory Documentary Project,where young filmmakers go to the countryside to gather and document memories of the Great Famine (1959-1961) from elderly villagers.

Wu Wenguang introduces his film “Treatment”.

Bumming in Beijing

Wu Wenguang is known as one of the first to make independent documentaries in China. His first documentary film,Bumming in Beijing – The Last Dreamers,aired in 1990 and soon after the film toured the international film festival circuits. Wu started out in 1988 filming five artists,a writer,some painters and a theatre director all involved in the production of art on the edge of Chinese society. The artists had,for the most part,no Beijing registration and they stayed with friends or in shabby courtyard houses on the outskirts of Beijing close to the old summer palace while trying to practice their art in the China of the late 1980s. Only one of the five artists portrayed in the film remained in Beijing,by 1990 the other four had left China to pursue their dreams elsewhere in the world. Wu’s documentary was the first in China to give the characters of a documentary a space to voice their concerns and dreams of the future,letting the narratives of their stories weave together presenting lives on the edge of Beijing,both figuratively and literally.Wu Wenguang introduces his film "Treatment".

For the next ten years,Wu produced several documentaries concerned with people living on the margins of Chinese society and films related to sensitive historical issues. Meanwhile,he toured the international film festivals and presented and discussed his work with international filmmakers and audience. In 2000,when he again found himself at an international film festival and was yet again asked the question: What will your next film be about? Wu realized that he was not interested in ‘the next topic’,making ‘the next film’ or filmmaking in general for that matter. What he wanted was to make change possible by creating the conditions for change in people. Wu believed the camera could be instrumental in this process: by giving people the opportunity to record and re-experience their lives through the lens of the camera,there was maybe a possibility of creating awareness of the marginalized person’s own position and thereby a possibility to empower this person.

Initial steps

The initial steps in the direction towards engaging in possible social change were taken in 2001,when Wu and the dance choreographer Wen Hui made the performance and documentary film Dance with Farm Workers. 40 migrant workers,originally from Sichuan Province,were hired to be part of a dance performance in collaboration with Wen Hui’s international dance troupe. Nine days of rehearsing culminated in a public dance performance which took place in an old,empty factory in Beijing. The process was intended to establish a relationship between the people who build the city (the migrant workers) and the people living in the city (in this case the dancers and documentarists),while it also directed attention to the poor conditions migrant workers often worked under and the local urbanities prejudice towards them.

Source: infocus.asiaportal.info

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Some more ideas

My PD 100 has an adaptor that you use to connect one or two mics unto the camera. I have heard that the sound capabilities are better with the PD 150 and that is why it is a more professional grade camera but the picture quality is the same. Uni- directional mics are best for dialogue and interviews. I once used a uni-directional mic and boom in a scene that had loud construction going on right ...est lectures from the filmmakers themselves. He gave very good advice to the students when they screened their projects on both technical and aesthetic issues. I highly recommennd it if you have the time. Plus the tuition is cheap! Film Arts Foundation in SF is another great source for independent filmmakers in general. They are the biggest supporters of documentary filmmaking on the west coast.

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