2015 was my first time visiting the Collingwood Elvis Festival. As an aspiring documentary filmmaker, I wanted to go out and film the madness and just see what came out of it.
At the time I was shooting on a Nikon DSLR without any stabilization or ND filters which are really good at cutting down the amount of light so really bright things like the sky don’t get completely washed out. I had borrowed a really cheap shoulder rig from a friend and it really didn’t seem to help much. I did have a decent microphone but it is meant to pick up pretty much everything and it certainly did.
The result was a 5min short that I cut together shortly after but never posted or showed to anyone. I wasn’t thrilled with the shaky footage, the blown out exposure, nor the audio challenges that I had faced as well.
In the 2 years since filming this I’ve learned a whole lot more, and spent a lot of money on equipment that could do a much better job today.
However, the most important thing I’ve learned is this: If you can’t tell a good story with cheap equipment, all the money in the world cannot fix your film. And that is something I really believe. Clean beautiful shots are important, don’t get me wrong, but the absolute best quality footage will only take you so far. What will keep viewers engaged is the story that you tell.
I’ve seen a lot of great documentary films and every now and again I see that shot that’s just out of focus, or a little shaky or hard to hear and it solidifies my belief. Knowing that this film maker chose to use a bad shot because it was integral to the story they were trying to tell, is something I find very honest and comforting.
So watching my first attempt at a short doc again as the 2017 Elvis Festival kicks off, I figured what the hell, it was fun to make and the story is not half bad, but I will let you be the judge.