Land Grant Films Micros format

Interested in making a microdoc for Land Grant Films? This quick guide will give you everything you need to know to start your first micro.

Overview

Let’s start by talking about what a microdoc actually is.

First, it is micro. We try to keep all of our pieces under three minutes, with the ideal length being about two minutes.

Next, it follows a documentary style. This means three things:

  1. We don’t use an on-camera anchor or reporter. We usually just let the subjects speak for themselves. In rare cases, we use narration or text on screen to fill the gaps.
  2. We follow a cinematic shooting style. Most of our content is shot on DSLR-style camera, such as the Canon C100. We tend to exploit the shallow depth of field these cameras allow for to make dynamic interview shots and striking cutaway shots.
  3. We use bed music in most of our pieces to add to and strengthen the emotion of the piece.

Beyond the straightforward definition, our microdocs are meant to be social media-friendly, viral content. Each story should be a snackable piece of content that introduces the audience to someone or something they didn’t know about the Knoxville area.

As you can see in the samples below, many of our microdocs profile people or organizations doing interesting and unique things in the community.

Pitching

Have an idea you think would be good for a microdoc? Great! Pitch it.

But before you pitch make sure you have a story and not just an idea. Here’s an idea:

“I found this place, and it’s pretty cool. I want to do a story on it.”

For example, maybe you went down to Market Square this weekend and stumbled across the Cruze Farms pop-up store. You might think it was a cool place and would make a great microdoc. The good news is…you are probably right; the bad news is…you don’t have a focus yet. There are a million different stories you could tell about Cruze Farm and it’s pop-up store. Before you pitch, you need to know what story you want to do. Here is a better story pitch for Cruze Farms:

“I want to do a story about where the idea of the iconic Cruze Farm girl came from and why they chose the style they did.”

This pitch — unlike the one above — is for an concise, focused story that could be told in a couple minutes.

A good way to test your pitch is to think about what story people would produce if you gave them your pitch without any additional information. Would they all produce the same type of stories (good pitch) or would everyone produce a different, unique version of the story (bad pitch)? You pitch should be focused and concise enough that everyone would produce about the same story.

Format

  1. Teaser quote — We tend to start our docs with a short (~10 sec) teaser quote to get people interested in the story. The teaser is not meant to be a lead line, summary or introduction, but is supposed to grab the viewers attention and easy them into the main focus of the story.
  2. Title slide — After the teaser quote, we go to a title slide. You can find a downloadable version of the slide in the assets section below (in the form of a Adobe Premiere title). The title slide includes a short sentence usually in the format of “Meet XXXXXX.” Although, sometimes we use a variant, such as “Where did the Cruze Farm Girl come from?” The title slide should go over a piece of footage from your microdoc.
  3. Main content — After you cut out the teaser, title slide, and close, you only have about a minute and forty seconds for your main content. You need to keep it focused. Everything should go back to your pitch.
  4. Close — Like the title slide, the close is just a graphic that gets thrown over a piece of video from your story. You can also download the graphic as Premiere title below.
Example of the opening title slide

Examples

Assets

  1. Open — The open is currently formatted as a title in Premiere. There is no good reason for this. If you use something other than Premiere, please let me know and I can remake it as a graphic file. Regardless, you can get the title slide template by right-mouse clicking and choosing “Save as…”
  2. Close — Right-mouse click and choose “Save as…”
  3. Bug — Please insert the bug in the bottom right or bottom left corner of the screen during most of the main content (i.e., after title slide to before close).
  4. Supers — For supers, use the title tool in Premiere (or whatever editor you are using) and use Myriad Pro Condensed Bold font.
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