Sunday, August 24, 2014

Making documentaries is a major undertaking

I've now watched two of Ian Herring's documentaries. Both were high quality, excellent viewing, and displayed painstaking research.

For further information, visit Parallax Film Production; their website is here.

What follows is the second half of my interview of Ian. It seems that making a documentary is not a task that yields instant gratification.

5. What is the hardest part of making documentaries?
Raising the financing. It never gets easier. No matter how many award winning films and high rated shows you deliver you have to prove that your idea is worthy of financing each time.

Broadcasters will not commission a film unless they think it will deliver a large audience to viewers.    My partner, Maija Leivo keeps saying to me that we are only as good as our last film. The series we are currently in production on has taken nearly 20 years to find a broadcaster home.

6. Given an idea, how long does it take to bring a documentary to fruition?
On average a year to 4 years. Extraordinary circumstances – under a year.

7. What are you currently working on?
We are currently doing “Bahama Blue” a 6 part TV series for Oasis/Love Nature and Discovery Channel International.   It’s a wildlife series about the creatures that live within the Bahama’s that are completely hidden from the general public and few will ever see.    And in pre-production on a series set in World War 2.   More on that later.

8. Do you have a dream project in the back of your mind?
I would like to do a series on Canada’s role in the Vietnam war.   The Vets are still around and the ranks are thinning.   We are missing an opportunity to tell their stories while they are alive.  These are the ones who crossed the border and signed up and those who were in the USA and got drafted.   Fascinating and another overlooked story.   

As well I am a big fan of the story that became the film, Bridge on the River Kwai.   I would like to remake it bringing that remarkable story of the allied POW’s to a new generation.   It’s just a staggering story of man’s inhumanity and the humanity within all that.

9. What training did you have before getting into the business of making documentaries? Did you work for others before going out on your own?   
At the time film schools were few and far between so pursued an English degree from UBC. It taught me about story telling – and was able to transfer that to working in film and television.   Many people I work with today came through Journalism and Film School – but the strongest story tellers come from other programs, such as History.   Pursuing the study of story-telling through literature is a great training ground for dramatic story-telling and lay’s the ground work for the brand of entertainment that resonates with the entire world.

10. Are earlier projects available online, or for rent or purchase?   
Current projects are airing on various channels around the world but we don’t keep track.   Older titles are out of circulation.

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