1) Why banish “B-roll”?  
B-roll once meant shooting extra observational silent footage to enrich a story and provide greater flexibility in editing.  However, it connotes a lazy way of thinking about filmmaking.  A derogatory term for B-roll is wallpaper – slap it up and talk over it.  

2) Why seek more than generic footage? 
Generic shots don't fool anyone anymore.  Scenes that show relationships that can advance your story. Learn how to make the choices that will make your story great. 

3) Why avoid "directing" your characters? 

Watch a scene and you can almost hear the filmmaker say, “Would you open the door and walk into the room?” Or say, “Okay, now please pick up the phone and say your name.” Turning non-actors into awkward actors discredits the actuality of documentary filmmaking. 

Contact us for more information and to schedule a class or consultation.  

Graduate students, emerging filmmakers, and seasoned professionals benefit from Weinberg's classes, lectures, workshops and consultations.  Individual and group classes available throughout the country.   Consultation also offered via Skype.   

Weinberg shows and discusses clips from his films and those of other filmmakers that help students think about stories, develop ideas and characters, report visually, and go beyond interviews to provide meaningful context.  


Howard Weinberg


1) Who are your characters?  
You've got a topic, but who's going to tell your story?  How many characters?  Why them?  Even if you clipped a newspaper article, you still must understand the dimensions of your story and immerse yourself in it to choose your characters. 

2) How do you find them?

Learn how to find the person who can help you find your character. Hint: It’s often not the P.R. person.  Some documentary filmmakers begin by following several characters until they come upon one character or set of characters whose relationships embody the story they want to tell.

3) How can characters help you develop your storyline?  

If someone or one group doesn’t pop for you, doesn’t grab you and compel your focus on them, then you will need to find three or four characters through whom you can tell your story.  Learn how to tell stories with multiple characters to advance a larger story. 


1) What’s your story?
Examines how to move from thinking about a topic or an issue to a story.  How to move from interview-dominant films to characters engaged in action and in meaningful events. 

2) Why should an audience care? 

You care, but why should someone else?  It’s easy to tell a story that makes someone feel, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I”, but does the story explore the human condition in a way that expands knowledge, understanding, or empathy?

3) How can a title help you focus your story?   

Taking time to come up with an effective, evocative title is essential to making a story that will get attention.  Learn what makes a great title and how to make sure it works for your story.