With a new batch of interns starting up for the semester, we thought it would be a great time to work on some strategies to overcome production snafus.

Anyone who has ever tried to make a film knows that it is a long, tough, and possibly expensive road. Mistakes and misfortune will happen. It’s how you turn around and use what you did get that can make or break emerging filmmakers.

Here are the top three obstacles and how to overcome them.

Bad Audio (or no audio at all) – After you leave a fantastic interview, you get to the studio and realize your file has been corrupted. Audio is one of the most important, if not the most important, part of any video. Most of the time, you will be using a separate system to record the audio, such as a Tascam or a Zoom. So, if that audio is bad for whatever reason, you should be able to rely on having a backup audio file through the camera. Perhaps you have to redo the interview and end up getting even better quotes than the first time? Or perhaps you need to use narration, another interview, a graphical element, or you on camera to share the story’s missing pieces.

Missed shooting an important event/moment/scene – Did your battery die just before an important moment happened? Were you on the wrong side of town? Make do with what you CAN get. Find someone who was there and could describe the scene to you. Maybe include narration in your project and film narrative b-roll. Maybe find a different yet similar story and tell that one. This is also a chance to get other people involved in the project. Maybe you can get an animated sequence for this shot instead.

Corrupted footage – If you are not backing your footage up regularly or are in a tough environment, file footage can be corrupted, whether it’s a weird pixelation on screen or just unusable footage. Situations like this are primed for using stock footage or for stylizing around the error.  The point is to be creative and work with what you already have. At the very least, these errors that will inevitably pop up for even the pro-filmmakers

Sometimes what seems like a disaster can be a point of inspiration. Just keep working at it.

Support Nonprofit Documentary Filmmaking:

Carbon Trace can provide significant guidance in developing, funding, producing, and distributing a documentary film. For high school students wishing to learn more about documentary filmmaking, Missouri State University offers degrees in digital filmmaking, media production, journalism, and other associated areas.

To participate in the documentary education provided through the Carbon Trace Team, we encourage you to apply for a filmmaking internship, submit a documentary idea, or apply to become a volunteer using the forms below.

Join Carbon Trace as a student volunteer

Apply for an internship

Submit a documentary idea

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