Are you a budding filmmaker with dreams of cutting together your own masterpiece? Well you came to the right place! Claire and Anthony Bueno, the brother and sister team behind the Ghostbusters documentary, CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: Remembering Ghostbusters, are here to tell you how to get started, tips on perfecting your interview technique, getting your hands on the right equipment and how documentary making can enhance your business.
You are currently working on your documentary CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: Remembering Ghostbusters but it isn’t your first project. How did you guys get started along the path to filmmaking?
We both lived in Devon and worked in at the local hospital in their IT department. Quite separately we had both decided that we wanted a career change—Anthony had always been in love with film and looked into the possibilities of going to film school. He enrolled on a two month course at the New York Film Academy (which had a London base), took a career break from work and subsequently went on to do the year course.
Claire had wanted to be a journalist from an early age but, for one reason or another, it hadn’t panned out. She decided to give TV presenting a whirl, so after going on several courses, she took a year career break and moved to London to see if she could make it work.
At film school, Anthony learned different disciplines of filmmaking and Claire got a job interviewing filmmakers on the red carpet at film premieres. We both have a passion for the filmmaking process and a thirst to know how films are made so we decided to combine our skills and work together and make a documentary about Anthony’s favourite film, Ghostbusters. It’s not always been easy but we have never looked back.
What is it about filmmaking that keeps you both coming back for more?
On this journey we have met incredibly inspiring and creative people, all with a story. Having worked hard and earned people’s trust, we are now in a privileged position to able to tell their stories and share it with the world, whether it’s through our documentaries or by our sister company, Premiere Scene. There is something very powerful about connecting with another human being, and through our work we’ve been able to do that. It’s very hard to let that go.
Is filmmaking something that can be beneficial to businesses and business growth or would you say it’s more of a recreational pastime?
Film has huge benefit to business. Think of the terms ‘film industry’ and ‘show business’. Film is responsible for creating much work and sadly exploiting it. Pictures speak a thousand words. Think of the corporate video or commercials—it’s all filmed. How much money is spent in advertising a year? Even within a movie, how much product placement is used to help finance a film? For a lot of us on the way up, trying to make a living out of making films it is extremely tough. You have to do it because you love it not because you’re going to be a millionaire.
Do you think it’s essential to take a course in filmmaking to break into the industry or is this something you can just dive into?
From a personal perspective, without a doubt it’s been of huge benefit to us to have done courses and been taught by industry people. We have been taught rules, disciplines and techniques that have been invaluable. Having said that, technology is on our side, so there is nothing stopping anyone from going out and giving it a go.
The important thing is the story. Do you really have one to tell? If so, then do it to the best of your ability. Don’t just do it for the sake of it. The curse of digital is that anyone that can point a camera thinks they can be a filmmaker and there is so much more to capturing the right image and telling a good story, it takes real skill.
How do you begin to plot the narrative behind a documentary? Is there a particular process you both use to tell the story you’re documenting?
For us, it started with how these films were made. We then formulated questions that would provide the answer. The wonderful thing about documentary filmmaking is how organic it really is. It’s amazing what other common themes and threads start to present themselves through the process of filming and talking to people, which then goes on to add further texture, layers and depth to your film.
Documentaries are typically very interview heavy—how do you go about securing one-on-one time with a credible source or expert?
Well, IMDb Pro has been our saviour! IMDb Pro is the subscription part of the Internet Movie Database that provides contact details to film talent. We knew who we wanted to interview so we reached out to their agents and publicists and took it from there. It was more important that it was us who were credible!
What’s the secret to conducting the perfect on-screen interview?
Now, that would be like giving away the secret family recipe! The secret is to be prepared. Know your subject.
How important is it to get the right equipment for the job?
Very important. We invested heavily in the right equipment: camera, tripods, lighting, sound and editing equipment are all equally as important—they are your tools. As CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: Remembering Ghostbusters has taken eight years we’ve also had to upgrade our equipment. We had to move from tape to card, we remember the Japanese Tsunami meant that factories were hit and unable to provide tape media which forced us to move to card which meant a new camera. For us we are all about quality and you need the right tools to accomplish that.
You chose to crowdfund your project, but are there any other ways to fund a documentary?
Well, when we started CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: Remembering Ghostbusters crowdfunding didn’t exist, so for seven years we self-funded our project in order for us to maintain creative control. We ran out of money which lead us to launching a Kickstarter campaign to complete it.
There are people who are willing to invest in film projects and then come on board as producers, but will obviously then want a say. There also the option of sponsorship, but you ideally need a track record for this and it then depends on the project and whether your perspective audience thinks it would be worth their investment. Most corporates have a marketing budget for the year so it’s whether you catch them early enough before they have spent their money elsewhere!
If you could travel back in time to the start of your filmmaking career and give yourselves one piece of advice, what would it be?
Look after your money—you spend a lot of time without it.