Rohan's taking the lecture this week and although we knew he'd made documentaries, what we didn't know was that he never intended to become a documentary filmmaker, but was lead on the path through a series of chances, opportunities and coincidences - or as Paul and Liam would say, serendipity.
Rohan showed us some of his film 'T is for Teacher', which follows the story of 4 different American schoolteachers that transitioned from male to female, changing genders. He spoke of some of the lessons he learnt in directing this, his first full-length film. For example, he wanted to let the teachers tell their own stories, as they'd been silenced for so long. Due to this, the sound recording had to be really precise.
ROHAN'S TIPS & TRICKS FOR INTERVIEWS:
Create an arc.
1. Start with really easy questions, questions that they get asked all the time, and at a dinner party, etc.
2. Get them to retell the story in their own way, chronologically.
3. Ask the more difficult questions three quarters of the way through the interview. Due to this, if they get angry or run out of the interview at least you've had a good build up.
4. Finish the interview pleasantly, there should be no bad blood between you in the last 10 minutes, so they sign the release form.
Why have they decided to do the interview with you? Exploit what it is about yourself that this person likes. For example, Ellie (the hairdresser who tried to run the transgender schoolteacher out of town) was excited about the fact that Rohan was Australian, so even though she had quite controversial opinions, she was eased into the interview by him acting 'Australian'.
Rohan also talked about his second film, where everything was planned out and ready to go, but the main subject of his film died two hours before he was flying over. This could be seen as a major setback, but while on the plane he thought of filming the funeral and the Jewish mourning period. By making a phone call, he learnt that the man's granddaughter was in Berlin and trying to get back, and there was the hook - the pressure for her to get back before the deadline set by the Rabbi.
Your documentary doesn't have to be simply recordings of 'real life' - you can stage things, record music especially for it, even have a musical sequence.
What is important is ascertaining what the moments are, and seizing them, knowing what's important before going out and filming.