Erin Lee Carr is the documentary filmmaker behind At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal and Mommy Dead and Dearest. Her debut film, Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Hot Docs in 2015 and aired on HBO that May. She is also the author of All That You Leave Behind, from Random House, which Ta-Nehisi Coates called “a breathtaking read.”
Erin originally posted the following filmmaking advice to Facebook based on her experiences with producing her feature documentary Thought Crimes:
When I started shooting Thought Crimes I reached out to numerous filmmakers asking for advice upon undertaking a first feature. Most had great and wise things to say but I would venture to say that I wanted some more practical advice.
I am a compulsive maker of lists so I decided it might be nice to write some of my own experiences down while I start production on movie #2.
Things I learned while making “Cannibal Cop: The Musical”:
- Be very careful in your approach to a subject, it will come up later
- If you can afford it, get someone to transcribe your interviews
- Know when to choose your battles in the edit room
- Always be thankful to the people on your team and make sure they know that
- Know your way around working a camera (work in progress)
- Don’t let your camera man talk you into carrying 27 bags
- Bring back-up batteries (FOR EVERYTHING)
- Stay in the second to least shitty hotel
- Try not to freak out when you get an edible arrangement from your subject
- Court illustrators are actual loons and you film with them as little time as possible
- It is impossible to film in federal prisons (ALSO: you can’t wear a normal bra b/c of the wire so make sure you have a great sports bra).
- Double and triple check the time/address of the shoot
- Don’t say you are sorry when you are not
- Be strong in the story you want to tell
- Ask for help when you need it
- Filming is a long/stressful process but it is the gig you signed up for and thus it is so important to have fun while doing it
Did you find what you were looking for? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get resources and articles like this one delivered to your inbox every week!