Griffin Hammond’s at it again with another very insightful podcast, this time diving head first into his workflow for shooting documentaries with a step-by-step discussion about his process.
Though Hammond can’t cover every single aspect about his docu-workflow (we’d be listening for hours), it's still a great watch that provide some very helpful and informative information.
Here’s a few of the questions that Hammond answered:
What’s the workflow like from concept to delivery?
To answer this question, Hammond looked to all of his current projects to find a common thread between them and found that the common thread was the he “needs people.”
“That’s like the big thing,” Hammond says. “I need interview audio.” He goes on to say that he starts planning interviews first mainly because he needs to get audio first. With audio from the interview, Hammond is able to construct the story he wants to tell, so it’s an essential foundation to his documentary and his workflow. It’s also important to Hammond that he gets multiple point of views in his story rather than simply telling a single person’s story. “Anything I shoot, even if it is a one person documentary, I’m always looking for variety … I [want] to feel like we’re telling the whole story” He also feels that by having variety, the editing process will run much smoother because you will have more to work with.
How do you ask your interview questions?
“I think my general strategy in an interview is just knowing that a lot of times at the beginning of an interview … the answers I’m gonna get won’t be very comfortable yet. They may not be good at answering at the beginning,” Hammond answers. “So I usually ask some throwaway questions … if I’m interviewing someone about being at a political rally, I’ll just say like … “‘Where’s are you from?’” “‘How long did it take you to get here?’” “‘Was it interesting going through Secret Service?’” … I may or may not use them, but what I really want to know is what do you think about this candidate, but I know if I start with like “‘Tell me about your political opinions,' that's just a rough place to start.”
The main thing that Hammon tries to do is first asks questions that will make the person he’s interviewing more comfortable and used to him.
He also says that he isn’t afraid to come back to a question he’s asked in the interview if he feels that it wasn’t answered to his satisfaction. He does usually reword the question, giving it question a different approach and angle that will hopefully help it receive a better answer.
How do you handle releases and payments for people that you interview and feature in your documentary?
Hammond says that he has never paid anyone to be in one of his interviews. He does see that there’s a feeling that you should pay them because you are taking up their time to help you make your documentary, but he ultimately wants to avoid the possibility of causing conflict of interest. “You want to make sure that there’s not a perception that you are getting the answers you want because you paid them.”
Hammond later says that he always makes sure that he doesn’t impose so much onto the people he is interviewing that they feel they should be paid for their time.
For releases, Hammond says that it’s good to get releases. He has his own standard release that he uses. “It’s good to have some kind of paper trail,” Hammond says.
Later in the video Griffin goes onto talk about more technical aspects of production, like focal lengths for crop sensors and how to trick your Atomos recorder, which are also very informative topics. However, that wraps up the documentary portion of the podcast. Hopefully you found what Hammond talked about both helpful and enlightening.