You could structure your approach along traditional lines, such as, getting to the location and filming establishing shots. This means wide shots of places and people, getting an overall view of the situation.
Then move in to film closer shots of people, banners, posters, placards and leaflets, (leaflets being handed out for example).
However you structure this, you will almost always need these additional shots for cutaways.
These can help to tell the story better than most anything else. They are the backbone of any story ‘narrative’, explanation and exposition, which can include narration (voice over) filling in the missing pieces and adding further information.
You could also choose to film speakers to provide a narrative as well. For instance people on stage, megaphones, microphones, or just speaking to a crowd while handing out leaflets. In almost every case it is the dialogue that will convey what is happening and why.
If someone being interviewed mentions something specific, like a banner, a slogan for instance, then get a shot of the item, if you haven’t filmed it already in order to use the shot to visibly demonstrate what someone is saying, or talking about.
Don’t forget the; who, when, where, what and why questions as a simple guide (see News & Documentary).
When possible write down their names and a contact number / e-mail (in a notebook), also get them to clarify their names on camera (at start or end of a shot). This means you can contact them if needed, and have the correct spelling of their names.
On screen narrator or interviewer, or other to tell the story and assist the flow of information. A central character (or focal point) does not necessarily have to be a person.
It’s also helpful to get leaflets and talk to people, to get a feel and sense of what is happening, what the protest or event means to people. Also talk to the general public, passers-by and any others affected by a protest. Do they share the protesters concerns, are they antagonistic and annoyed?
There is a viewpoint, that as the mainstream becomes more technological, Independent Film Makers and film making could become more primitive. For instance, using simplicity and skill to create original content, rather than creating a visual fx spectacle with no guts.
Guerilla film making developed new ways of telling stories and film making techniques, simply by confronting film makers with more spontaneous and anarchic environments to work within. Limited circumstances can force different (more creative) approaches, so can - ironically - be a blessing.
Finding an unusual or off the wall approach and story telling method can be harder than it looks, but rewarding when it works.
The mainstream offers much coverage, but equally can restrict the film maker creatively and expressively. Do you make the film you care about, or one that may appeal to media executives ? Or, do you go it alone and spend time and money to produce a film you have more creative control over ?
It’s likely that the struggle (pro’s and con’s) to make a film will be equally frustrating and time consuming either way. Both directions can be a battle, but you have to live with the results, so which are more palatable to you in the long run ?
FILMING LIVE EVENTS
(APPLE announced (September 2012) that it is to make available to governments and police a device to stop its phones from broadcasting (streaming) in specific places, i.e. demonstrations.)
Regardless of these apparent threats, occupy movements and those around them have chosen to successfully use live streaming methods to broadcast protests. These can involve an individual walking around with a mobile phone, or camera that is uploading data there and then. Along with this the person filming will often contribute with a verbal dialogue / narration.
It is important to empower and encourage people, to demonstrate by example that they too can make a difference through action and art. No change, democracy, or freedom was achieved by being silent.
The ability to steer clear of the mainstream media’s socially divisive approach to coverage is more important than ever before. The mainstream media can often be thought of like junk food. Full of additives and flavourings (to cover the bland emptiness of its content), little if any nourishment, or long term value, and after 5 minutes your full of crap and still hungry.
If you wish to contribute your experience and knowledge on this site, either through written articles, or tips, then e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out information about Filming in Public / Private Places (U.K)