Submit A Story

Lightbeam is the first-of-its-kind empathy-generating storytelling platform. We curate mini-docs that help us all see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Lightbeam wants to amplify your voice as an artist as well as shine a light on exceptional humans and their good deeds.

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WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR & PRODUCTION TIPS:

More than anything, we love films that make an emotional connection.

Types of micro-docs that you can submit:

  • Created especially for Lightbeam
  • Created for other purposes that remain relevant and resonant today
  • Cut-downs from feature length documentaries or longer shorts
  • Created from unused footage from features/longer shots

Open and welcome a diversity of subject matters. We want to showcase people from all walks of life and from all parts of the globe. They don’t need to be superheroes, just people who are doing their part to make the world a tiny bit brighter.

For inspiration, check out these Lightbeam Stories.

GUIDELINES FOR IDEAL STRUCTURE:

  1. Beginning hook: Protagonist’s memorable direct-to-camera dialogue or the protagonist doing something interesting visually with a memorable v/o.
  2. Protagonist introduces him/herself very briefly. Two lines max: My name is _________. I am or I do ______________.
  3. Body of piece: Mixture of straight to camera interview, B-roll with v/o, and/or archival content w v/o
  4. Ending: Memorable line from protagonist that allows for piece to end in a natural way

TIPS FOR INTERVIEWING YOUR MAIN SUBJECT:

  • Ask them for more than one version of their ID (My name is ….) so that you can pick the best during post-production.
  • When asking questions, remind them to answer by including the question in their answer: Question: “Why do you love performing for the elderly?” Answer: “The reason why I love performing for the elderly is…..” or Question: Where did you grow up? Answer: “I grew up in…”
  • Be generous shooting B-roll. Better to have a lot of visual footage to pull from to cover up jump cuts in interview footage.
  • Record as much description as possible in the interview since you’ll likely use the audio from that for the B-roll voiceover. If you know what you have shot on B-roll or intend to shoot, you can ask them more specific questions to make sure we get good v/o coverage. For example, if you shoot a volunteer ballet class as B-roll, then you would ask them “What happens during a given class? What impact do you hope the experience have on the students?”
  • During any interview, if the subject is talking in run-on sentences, ask them to pause between thoughts. And don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something that is great but caught inside a ramble.
  • During any interview, lean toward open-ended questions which evoke better responses and compelling content than closed ones: e.g., “What do you think about X?” or “How do you feel when you’re doing Y?”
  • If interviewing other subjects beyond the protagonist, then make sure your drawing out a great line or two since full paragraphs likely won’t make it to the final edit since these pieces are so short. If they answer and it’s interesting but they don’t say it in a concise or pithy or engaging way, give them a second chance. “That was great, can you say it again but in half the words?” or re-direct for a more focused answer: “That’s really interesting, can you try that again but tell more about ….”
  • If interviewing other subjects beyond the protagonist, ask them about the protagonist (assuming they know him/her) and make sure they use the person’s first name in the answer, not a he/she/they: “Jose is unbelievably effective with trauma victims because…”)

TECHNICAL SPECS/TIPS:

  • Unless you’re shooting on an iPhone, you’ll need to make sure your videographer’s framing will fit a minimum aspect ratio of 4:5, or a maximum aspect ratio of 9:16 (for posting on an Instagram Story, for example). This is often accounted for on bigger-budget productions with an in-camera box that digitally shows different aspect ratios on the camera’s screen.
  • By shooting horizontally and then cropping later, you can actually make higher quality videos than just shooting vertically outright, and it gives you the option of keeping it horizontal or cropping in for vertical later.
  • Sound: “Instamic” is a great alternative to than lav mics for one person shoots.
  • Apps for iPhone shooting that give you manual controls for tech specs etc: Padcaster.com, FilmicPro.
  • For transferring footage FileMail is best followed by WeTransfer and PTransfer.

BEST PRACTICES FOR GETTING PERMISSION BEFORE SHOOTING:

  • Get signed releases of all people featured in the film.
  • When working with minors, have a parent or guardian sign the release.
  • Get signed location releases where needed.
  • Be mindful of all images and music that come into your film including the background, eg artwork, logos, recognizable images.

FILMMAKER RESOURCES:

The Film Collaborative
The D-Word
Doc Society
IDA