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Movie Construction Kit template Outline template for making a movie

Male First Names for Writers Sample list of male character first names

WriteRoom for Microsoft Word Writing tool for Word users

What is Vodcasting? Explanation of vodcasting technology

Faking a Painted Masterpiece Create a faux prop painting

Video Podcasting or Vodcasting Introductory Tutorial

Last Names for Writers Sample list of character last names

Generate Date-Time for Podcast, Vodcast, or RSS Feed

Making a Prop Sword Look Real to the Camera

Screenwriter Jumpstart poster

Character traits for Writers

Documentaries for Art Directors / Production Designers

Interview with screenwriter Jack Sekowski Also includes free download of a produced script

Dan's Top 10 Tips for Short Film Makers

Free Script Templates

Film glossary of common terms

My Living Memory free short script

Production Tips and Techniques

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Documentaries for Art Directors / Production Designers

Here is a list of useful documentaries that provide real-life reference material for set design

Every good production designer and art director has a miniature library of books and magazines that show authentic settings for various lifestyles. When a film demands that a western coral, a backwater bar, or a nuclear submarine interior needs to be recreated/simulated, the photo library of actual places provides a starting point for constructing and decorating the set.

In the last year, I’ve been increasingly using documentary film for reference material. Film provides moving pictures of numerous environments with details that can add that extra feel of reality to a set.

This list is my attempt to compile descriptions of documentary films that I’ve seen and noticed that would make effective reference material for a particular setting. If you have a computer, your DVD player likely has the ability to take snapshots of individual frames that can help you create a sample-book for use on your film project.

These movies are all available through Netflix, Amazon, or your local library in many cases. Note that I know of many more documentaries than those listed, but have purposely left off documentaries that focus on still pictures (such as Ken Burns’ Civil War) because a book would likely be more useful to the art department.

American Movie documentary

Locals shown: Rural/northwest side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Timeframe: 1980s
Notes: Interiors of several lower-middle class homes

Architecture of Doom documentary

Locals shown: NAZI Germany at the height of the party reign

Born into Brothels documentary

Locals shown: Slums of India.
Notes: Interiors of living spaces of several Indian children.

Brother’s Keeper documentary

Locals shown: Rural upstate New York
Notes: Interiors of a two room house shared by four brothers for over forty years. Amazing collection of decay. Also shows a barwater bar and a small town community gathering lodge.

Crumb documentary

Locals shown: San Francisco in the 1990s. Several low-rent apartments. The office of a magazine pornographer.

Dark Days documentary

Locals shown: Insides of the self-constructed shelters of the New York homeless. Subway environments.

El Che documentary

Locals shown: Latin America.

Five Wives, 3 Secretaries, and Me documentary

Locals shown: House of an upper-middle class conservative Texan.

Grey Gardens documentary

Locals shown: The interior of a crumbling mansion in East Hampton in the 1970s.

Life + Debt documentary

Locals shown: Jamaica and its environments. Mostly exterior.

My Architect documentary

Locals shown: Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

Salesman documentary

Locals shown: Lower-middle class homes in the 1950s. A treasure trove!

See How They Run documentary

Locals shown: San Francisco. Mostly exteriors, a few government offices.

Survivor: Survival documentary

Locals shown: Mostly exteriors