Profiles of autodidacts in the San Francisco Bay Area

Pick a Font for my Short Doc and Stick with It

Screen shot of my failed title.

I’m teaching myself how to make short documentary profiles of autodidacts in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There are many things to learn.  I make mistakes continually, but I also get a lot right.  The key has been to ignore my ego, trust my intuition, and work hard.

Some of my best learning has been in-person with experienced people ‘in-the-business’ who have graciously shared their time and their knowledge with me.  My recent reunion with a former Francis Ford Coppola co-worker is a good example.  Co-worker makes it seem like we were colleagues.  We weren’t.

Just out of college back in 1989, I had an entry-level job at Coppola’s film company, American Zoetrope.  Richard Beggs invited me out for a ‘Dutch’ lunch and visited.  Occasionally I had the chance to watch him work on “Godfather III” or “Avalon.”  Back then and even now I idolized the man’s career.  At seventy-five, he’s sought after to create a signature sound environment for feature and documentary films.

In meeting with him to discuss my sound track for my first attempt at a ‘industry standard’ short documentary, I appreciated his candor.  He told me that the two fonts of my current title were calling out “rookie.”  See my photo of my old title for my film at top of this post.  Note the words at the bottom, “San Francisco.”  Richard thought having that there was confusing because it made the reader wonder, “Is San Francisco a subtitle to show the location of the film or is it part of the title?”

I was embarrassed to admit to him that I’d already entered it into two festivals like that.  The San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, and the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival–with the title that way.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be permitted to upload a new version, but I did.  (In fact, my film was accepted into both festivals.)  Despite how awkward and somewhat humilitating it was to hear his criticisms,  I had to ignore my ego, find a solution and fix it.

11 Responses to “Pick a Font for my Short Doc and Stick with It”

  1. Erin

    I think a title can be like a super short poem, in some ways. It doesn’t need to provide info, exposition, as long as it attracts the intended audience and intrigues us… You can always use a subtitle for more clarity if needed. Although his name doesn’t have to be part of the title, of course it should capture some of his spirit. Brainstorming ideas—If You Love It, Let It Go: Tagging sharks in the Bay. / Fishing for Meaning: Shark Tagging subtitle / A Shark Hunter’s Heart or The Heart of a Shark Hunter: Steve Shirley, Shark Tagger for Ocean Research. / Between The Catch And The Release: shark tagging etc. / Alive On The Ocean: Steve Shirley etc. / Not Going For The Kill: subtitle./ Hook, Line and Tagger: Hunting sharks for science / Knowing Sharks: Steve Shirley, etc.
    Sounds like it was a productive discussion, that’s great! Love to hear his thoughts on audio.

    • Kristin

      Hi Erin,

      Thank you for your title suggestions.

      As always, your advice sparks new thinking, new perspectives for consideration.

      For some reason, I’ve been at a creative impasse in the ‘title’ area.

      Your suggestions helped me to realize more possibilities; and they’ll help my outcome in this area of my short doc.

      I feel privileged under your tutelage throughout my project.

      As an experienced documentary editor, I covet your feedback.

    • Kristin


      Your visit here and comment made my day like a “spoon full of sugar.” As a former subject of my 3rd digital video profile, “Patrice, An Art Educator,” you know I admire what you have to say and how you always put it so nicely;-)


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