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Watch the Trailer for the World's First Virtual Reality Documentary

Users of 3D virtual reality gaming goggles Oculus Rift have just received some new, and probably unexpected, content to view: a documentary. Zero Point is a documentary from Danfung Dennis which examines the future of the virtual reality industry.

Writes Filmmaker Magazine, "The virtual reality headset will allow the viewer to control the visuals through movement — effectively positioning the audience as a character, or even a real-time cinematographer, in the film."

Watch the trailer below and read more here.

Graham Elliott Puts Creativity in Motion

Growing up, Graham Elliott desperately wanted to become a pilot and devoted himself to learning about flight. At 17 he received a scholarship to the RAF in London and within a week he was flying solo. Although Elliott ultimately decided he didn’t want to be in the Air Force, he took away a simple life lesson: all you need to do is apply yourself. His natural artistic abilities led him to Manchester University, where he graduated with a degree in graphic design. He then went on to the Royal College of Art to earn a Masters in Illustration, a program that touched on multiple artistic disciplines.

Best of Recent Documentaries

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan picks his best documentaries of 2013 and even what to look forward to in 2014.

He writes, "Proofs of the remarkable strength of documentaries in this day and age are manifold right around now. If you were fortunate enough to go to last month's Sundance, for instance, a prime nonfiction showcase that this year screened some 40 documentaries from around the world, you got a peek at the best of what 2014 will offer."

Read the full story here.

'The Crash Reel' BitTorrent Bundle Downloaded 3.4 Million Times

You couldn't ask for a better bit of free, topical promotion for The Crash Reel than the Winter Olympics. Lucy Walker's snowboarding documentary is taking advantage of the Sochi Games, and hoping to reach its young target demo, by being released as a bundle on BitTorrent.

So far, it seems to be working. The bundle, which features extra features like deleted scenes and an alternate ending, has been downloaded 3.4 million times.

Inside the 'Relentlessly Experimental' Work of Documentarian Robert Greenwald

The Los Angeles Times profiles the work of polemic documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, whose company Brave New Films consistently tackles tough political issues.

Says Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Media and Social Impact at American University's School of Communication, "Greenwald's a major advocacy figure on the left. Brave New Films is not pretending to be nuanced, and it's not pretending to make great art … Greenwald's intent is to engage people to take some kind of action. He's relentlessly experimental."

Read the full story here.

'Red Obsession' Weaves Intoxicating Story

Paul Murphy studied writing in school, but his first job was with a publishing house overseeing the production of promotional videos for new books. He was instantly intrigued so he bought a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro and started creating the videos himself. Eventually he left publishing to focus full time on editing and motion graphics design. Murphy recently completed work on Red Obsession, a documentary about the Bordeaux wine industry and the impact of China’s overwhelming demand. The film recently earned the Australian Academy award (AACTA) for best feature documentary.

 

Ken Burns Launches New American History App

Venerable documentarian Ken Burns has just launched a new app, as well as revamped PBS websites, that take advantage of his film library and subject matters to present American history in a new way.

Advice for Documentary Filmmakers: 'Work with Someone You Love'

In an excerpt from the book Tell Me Something: Advice from Documentary Films on Truly Free Film, filmmakers DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus offer this advice, "Work with someone you love. Love what you do. Listen to your partner, but stay true to the voice inside. It’s not always easy, but why easy? Take a deep breath. If you’re lucky, it’ll be the best adventure of your life. And you’ll share it with your love. "

Read the full story here.

NFL, GMC and USA Create Anti-Bullying Documentary

It's a case of branded synergy coming together for a greater cause when the NFL and GMC present USA's 3rd Characters Unite documentary, which features five pro football players discussing their triumphs over bullying.

Says GMC Manager of Sales and Promotion Chris Hornberger about getting onboard with the film, “It made sense for us because of launching products, there are a lot of great integrations with the Sierra, the Yukon and just the messaging as a whole with our ‘Never Say Never’ platforms."

Read the full story here on Brief.

Chuck Workman Celebrates the Art of Film in Documentary 'What Is Cinema?'

Documentary filmmaker Chuck Workman discusses his criteria for including filmmakers in his love letter to artsy films, What Is Cinema? He says, "I made a rule to myself that it has to stand next to [Robert] Bresson. For people my age, Bresson is like the Alain Resnais or the very strong, more theoretical filmmaker where you have to study his films; somebody that was serious about their filmmaking.”

Read the full story here on Reap Mediazine.

Director Ben Lewis Talks About the Challenges of Turning Non-Fiction Into a Compelling Narrative

In the below video from DP/30, director Ben Lewis talks about his documentary Google and the World Brain, about Google's attempt to digitize every book ever written.

He says, "I think secretly all documentary filmmakers are very frustrated by the fact that reality doesn't conform to the rules of a film narrative. And we get reality and we have to attempt to follow the rules and package it up into a film narrative while still respecting the truth of what actually unfolds in real life which is very rarely a three-act drama."

Watch below.

DP Rachel Beth Anderson on Capturing War Crimes in Documentary 'E-Team'

Cinematographer Rachel Beth Anderson talks to Indiewire about shooting her Sundance documentary E-Team, about a group of people selected by Human Rights Watch who document war crimes around the world.

DP Mai Iskandar on Breaking In as a Female

Cinematographer Mai Iskandar talks to Filmmaker Magazine about shooting documentary Watchers of the Sky and being a female in a male-dominated industry.

She says of how to get more women making movies, "This year I participated in a research study by Sundance Institute and Women in Film that explored the barriers and opportunities for independent women filmmakers. When asked about how to overcome some of the barriers facing women in the industry, people spoke about mentorship. I do feel having strong mentorship is key to changing the industry I have been very fortunate to have both male and female mentors throughout my career that have offered me encouragement and also support."

Andrew Rossi Explores College and Student Debt in Sundance Documentary 'Ivory Tower'

Director Andrew Rossi talks to Realscreen about his new Sundance documentary Ivory Tower, which examines the astronomical cost of secondary education in the United States.

Sundance Veteran Offers Up Lyrical Documentary Film

The feature-length documentary This May Be the Last Time doesn’t only detail the history of the Seminole community’s ancient songs of faith and hope, it also explores their connection to Director Sterlin Harjo’s own personal history. It’s his first documentary project, but not his first time premiering at the Sundance Film Festival or his first experience working with Adobe software. Together with his filmmaking partner Matt Leach, Harjo is fully immersed in the Adobe video workflow and the duo are happy to share how it has supported their efforts and fueled their creativity.

 

Watch a Short Documentary on Modern Love Inspired by 'Her'

Lance Bangs' short documentary "Her: Love in the Modern Age," asks a series of notable people the question of what love is in the modern age. The film was inspired by Spike Jonze's futuristic love story, Her.

Watch below.

'Last Days in Vietnam' to Premiere at Sundance

Last Days in Vietnam isn’t the first trip to the Sundance Film Festival for Director Rory Kennedy. Her film Ethel premiered at the festival in 2012 and went on to garner an impressive five Primetime Emmy nominations. But for her Associate Producer, Taylor Johns, it’s not only his first trip to Sundance, but it’s also the first film he’s worked on since graduating and taking a job with Kennedy’s company, Moxie Firecracker Films. In addition to doing some shooting on the film, Johns’ main job was to oversee the archival content, which involved working extensively with Adobe Creative Cloud.

Watch This Year's Oscar-Nominated Documentaries Now

Vulture rounds up where you can watch most of this year's Oscar nominees for feature-length documentaries (hint: Netflix), as well as some other standout docs from 2013.

Check it out here.

Scene from The Act of Killing.

 

Stranger Than Fiction: Teller on 'Tim's Vermeer'

Director Teller talks to The New York Times about making his acclaimed documentary Tim's Vermeer, which took five years to come to fruition.

He says, "What’s different about this is that with fiction I always write to the ending. I was a kid brought up on The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, so you’d figure how things were going to end and then back-structure the story so it would come out that way. In this case, we didn’t know how it was going to come out. There was no guarantee Tim would succeed, and we didn’t know what we would discover along the way. This was much more a process of examining and thinking and pulling out of this mass of material a story."

Director Lucy Walker Talks 'The Crash Reel'

Michael Murie of Filmmaker Magazine reports from a Q&A session with The Crash Reel director Lucy Walker and her subject Kevin Pearce. The documentary tells the sometimes harrowing story of champion snowboarder Pearce and his life before and after a serious injury that has benched him from the sport.

Frederick Wiseman Takes on Public Education in 'At Berkeley'

Elisabeth Greenbaum Kasson of International Documentary Assocation delves into how four-hour documentary At Berkeley, which delves into the state of public higher education, becomes a fascinating and lyrical film in the hands of veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman.

She writes, "Wiseman's ability to render the driest, most impersonal proceedings into very personal and intimate scenes is one of the strength's of At Berkeley. 'I want to give a sense of the people who are in the sequence but at the same time be fair to the original event,' [Wiseman] explains."

The Technology Behind Documentary 'Tim's Vermeer'

The International Documentary Association delves into how Penn & Teller's documentary Tim's Vermeer fittingly uses some cutting-edge technology of its own in order to tell a story about the intersection of art and technology.

Shane Salerno on the 10-Year Journey to Make 'Salinger'

With the director's cut of his documentary Salinger, featuring 15 minutes of bonus material, about to air on PBS' American Masters series, Shane Salerno explains his decade-long journey to uncover the truth behind the elusive writer.

High Production Values and Documentaries to Come Together in 2014

Ronan Doyle of Indiewire looks at the year that was for documentaries and also delves into why audiences are coming to expect high production values from a genre that has heretofore generally escaped such scrutiny.

Tomas Leach on Capturing the Late Saul Leiter in His New Documentary

Director Tomas Leach talks to Filmmaker Magazine about his documentary In No Great Hurry--13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter, about the famed late photographer.

He says of the challenges of the film, "Being one-on-one with someone for long stretches of time while shooting can be tough. And shooting alone (I was a one-man crew) is hard work. I was very conscious of not making the film visually a pastiche of his work, but at the same time I thought I should reference it, and judging that was delicate. But I would say the toughest challenge is doing justice to a complex but brilliant man."

Read the full story here.

 

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