How do I make a better StreetFilm?

We recently recieved this nice comment:

IanD: "...the work that [StreetFilms] is doing is fantastic and makes the stories on the streets really accessible. I’d love to add more well-produced pieces, but just don’t have the technical skills...Would you be interested in sharing some hints and tips?"
Clarence: In late Spring, we plan to host at least one free shooting & editing seminar filled with tips for eager contributors, but let me point out to IanD - you already have a good instinct what to shoot!

Just look at this great YouTube clip he posted while trying to ride in a separated bike lane blocked with illegally parked press vehicles. This continuous shot perfectly captures the problem: immediately you know what it must feel like to be riding and how this impacted his safety and experience as a cyclist.

But of course, the question was, essentially, how do I do even better? Although sometimes the time and situation do not allow it, let me offer some advice below...

Getting some supplemental footage would help make it more poignant and help establish location and scope. A shot of a nearby landmark or street sign helps with setting. Perhaps a wider shot from across the street showing the entire block filled with vehicles. Or documenting other cyclists navigating from afar - so you'll have more than just your POV experience on tape. Additionally, I know there are a couple of no-cars-in-the-bike-lane signs near that path. A shot panning from one of those down to the parked vans would be a profound, silent statement.

Nick Whitaker (Nick Whitaker?)In short, you are documenting the problem, so keep shooting. Take some important shots more than once. Don't forget, your camera will only "see" what you gather - you may think you got a perfect shot on tape, but you might not have - so be conservative. And get creative. You can never have too much footage, trust me on that!

At this point, let me reccomend a wonderful resource page from our friends at Project for Public Spaces. These ten shooting tips are for taking photos, but most translate very well to video use. An excellent read.

Finally, you'll want to edit it together in a logical way. If you have a Mac, iMovie has more than enough features to create and edit your own short vids - it's an excellent way to get started. (For PCs users there are plenty of places to download free or almost free editing software.) There is just too much to even jump into a full editing discussion here, but I'll offer these quickies:

1. Keep it simple, jump in and start editing. Your first project will not be a masterpiece. But each time you will want to get better, explore more tools. The only way to make better productions is to keep producing more product.

2. Use your footage to help enhance the story. For example, if you talked to a bicyclist, try to show specific examples of what she is talking about when she complains about the lanes being blocked.

3. The shorter the better. Don't worry about making an elaborate begining, people are impatient. The best StreetFilms, jump right to the action.

If you want to know when we announce our class, feel free to send us your e-mail address at: clarence [at] streetfilms [dot] org. We'll make sure to give you a heads up.