Story Consultant Fernanda Rossi answered the following question for our DOC BC members in anticipation of the upcoming workshop LSD: Loglines, Synopses and Demos to take place in Vancouver, BC on February, 2nd.
Q: How can I possibly make a demo if I can’t afford to shoot anything?
Fernanda: I understand your frustration. Sometimes due to geography – having to shoot far away at high expense- or access – people that are hard to reach, a demo is a mirage in the distance no matter how much technology or willingness is available.
Still it’s wise to find a path even in the sandiest of deserts because everybody else will have something to show. Because of that, many resort to making a demo with archival footage, representative stock footage, ad hoc shooting, symbolic imagery, etc. Many oppose these options as the resulting demo can misrepresent the project and hurt more than it helps the fundraising.
However, all decisions can only be made in context. As a general rule, historical films lend themselves better to these types of trailers, while observational ones are almost impossible to make up. You also have to consider how realistic and believable the borrowed material really is. Is there a chance to defend and complement the information presented with a personal conversation or does the trailer stand on its own lending itself to misinterpretation. There are legal considerations too. Without proper clearance, those made up trailers can’t be put online or broadcast in any way.
Ultimately what matters is not to discard the possibility of a trailer too early. There are options that if used appropriately can get the film closer to funding and completion.
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