A younger Gordon Quinn shooting a documentary

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

October 20, 2017

Podcast Conversation

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


In Addition

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.

In this segment 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


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!





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


Top Resources



Learn how to plan, fund and share your documentary film




#DocLand The Documentary Life‘s very own flagship filmmaking community which offers you step-by-step tutorials, industry expert webinars, private Facebook group, industry-standard templates and extensive resources, to assist you in the planning, funding and sharing of your documentary film.

Visit #Docland to learn more.




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2 comments on “44 – How to Be a One Person Crew + Conversation with Filmmaker & Co-founder of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn

  1. Scott Jun 13, 2018

    Hi TDLers! I just listened to this episode (one of my favs) and I thought I heard Gordon and Chris talking about a manifesto (okay, a resource perhaps) that provides all the info us doc filmmakers need regarding licensed, non-licensed and fair use. Anyone know where I can find said item? Much thanks!!!


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