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The Documentary Life - The Documentary Life EPISODE 44, 20th October 2017
How to Be a One Person Crew + Conversation with Filmmaker & Co-founder of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn
00:00:00 01:12:45

How to Be a One Person Crew + Conversation with Filmmaker & Co-founder of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn

Gordon Quinn has been making documentary films for over 50+ years with his landmark company, Kartemquin Films.


You may not know his name, but you’ve most likely seen one, if not a number of the films that he has been associated with. His impact has been so extensive and so broad in the field of documentary, that International Documentary Association (IDA) gave him the Career Achievement Award in 2015.


I had the distinct pleasure of holding a conversation with Mr. Quinn this week and we covered a number of topics including:

  • the need and formation for Kartemquin
  • how the Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams influenced a generation of doc filmmakers and filmgoers
  • how the executive producer role for docs is vastly different than with narrative features
  • whether or not documentary can truly make positive social change


How to Be a One Person Crew

In the opening segment, I decided to take a cue from fellow #DocLifer, Richard Simko, he sent official request for TDL to do a show that talks about the one person crew. It is not exactly a rare event when we documentary filmmakers sometimes find ourselves having to work on our projects all on our own. We become the shooter, sound person, director, interviewer, editor.


I examine some of the best ways in which we, the one person crew, can make the most effective films with the smallest amount of man power. Some of the topics covered:

  • how to best pack and transport your gear
  • secret audio tips for the solo filmmaker
  • how to appear as if you’ve shot with two cameras
  • how to stay powered up



Indiewire wrote an article about the pros and cons of the One Person Crew.


Related Resources

Watch the trailer for Kartemquin‘s Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams:



In the show we talk about packing and transporting one’s gear. Well, if you’re looking for a cheap and decent camera cart alternative check out filmmaker Lee Clements’ handmade camera cart!







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