365 Docobites is the groundbreaking new project making waves online from SFS Graduate Epiphany Morgan and her partner, Carl Mason.
In February, Tom Earls sat down with Epiphany and Carl to talk about what was to come…
Tom: Could you start by telling me about the idea and where it came from?
Epiphany: Well at the end of 2012, I saw a book in the stationery shop – stationery’s my weakness – and it just had ‘365’ on the front. Each page was just, one, two, three, four. I was like “a documentary like a journey over 365 days, you know. That would be really cool.”
I’ve always loved the blog: HONY: Humans of New York. If you don’t know it, check it out. They’re basically – it’s portrait photos that he takes – similar to our portrait photos. He puts the caption underneath the dialogue that he shares with them. Sometimes it’s one quote. Sometimes it’s a whole passage of dialogue that he has.
Carl: We tried to have a look around and find something that was similar to this, but we didn’t see anything out there, which we thought was pretty exciting.
T: How did you get the project funded?
E: I went through all of the traditional methods of funding: Screen Australia; Screen New South Wales; ABC and SBS. The main response I got was “I love the idea, but there’s no funding for this kind of format.” That’s silly. Online is everything – 365 is a recipe for success because all of the statistics point to it: 49% of people watch online content daily. The average length of a video watched online is 2.7 minutes – we’re not making anything over that at this point. Most of what people do watch is reality TV, so they’re interested in real stories, real life.
T: So how do you select subjects? What are you looking for?
C: So we set up our gear and hang around an area that has a lot of people walking through. We’ve found that most people, no matter what they’re doing, have an interesting story to tell. I thought, starting, that it would be very hard. Most people would say no. I know I wouldn’t want to talk if someone came up to me while I was doing something, (but) most people are pretty happy to. Even at the beginning when they don’t really want to and they ask us what it’s about and we tell them and they have a chat with us.
Above: A still from the third docobite from NYC
E: Just logistically, we can’t. We’d love to be able to film it, edit it and put it up the same day. That is actually quite do-able if we were in the same place. The last thing we want is for our audience to be left in the lurch, and to not deliver. So even though we’ll be filming multiple documentaries on the same day and editing them – like we’ll probably do three or four on the same day, and then edit some that day and some the next day.
C: And the fact that we’re following events around the world, like we’re going to go to big events, to bigger festivals and things so, on that day, there might be a huge mass of interesting people we speak to. So instead of just getting one for that day, we’ll get a whole bunch and then release them over the next few days.
T: What about your gear – logistically is it going to take up much space?
C: We got what’s called an F-Stop bag – they’re fantastic. They open from the back, not the front. So no-one can just open your bag while it’s on you. So what you have is a bag that opens from the inside, and you slide in this little box that has all these little compartments which you can maneuver and change.
We have a C100, We got a Canon 24-105 F4. We got a Tokina 11-16 and a Sigma, 30ml 1.4. But because we’ve shot everything in the daytime, we’ve got the 24-105, we haven’t even taken it off yet. It just works for everything, it’s really handy.
E: We also carry a Zoom with us, so we can do that. Say we’re walking around with our gear and we get robbed, I want to carry another stills camera in our luggage – a 5D or a 60D or whatever – so that worst case scenario; we still have something to shoot on. Then we go to the closest Canon store.
Above: From the 365 Docobites Instagram
T: Presumably, the most interesting people, when you’re travelling, will be the locals and they won’t always speak English. What do you do?
E: When we went through Europe, we had a lot of conversations with a lot of locals and there was only one woman who didn’t speak English. We managed to work it out because I just pulled out my French to English translator on the iPad and I just wrote the question and it translated it and she answered it. It’s part of the local challenge really, which I’m very excited about. I’m kind of embracing it.
T: So what’s the endgame?
E: We’ve got a vision of where I think 365 could be, what it could offer people. I’m very excited about that. I feel like if you do think “okay, there’s a place online that you can go every day to watch different stories about real people around the world, anywhere in the world” that’s really exciting. I feel there will be significant opportunities for the filmmaking generation of now to be contributing as well. Multiple filmmakers contributing to multiple 365 threads. Not just strangers, it might be celebrities, thieves, war – I would love to do a 365 war for the next one.
T: So when you’re in a dingy part of a foreign town, running out of money, it’s raining and you’re tired and running out of card space, what’s going to keep you going?
E: From a personal point of view, to be able to create and challenge myself – ourselves – as individuals and as a couple. To experience this together is really fantastic. To be meeting filmmakers across the world in these workshops is… it’s my happiness.
C: For me, the best thing about travelling is the people – the strangers you meet and come across in your travels. But I think what we’re doing is (for) all those people that don’t have the means to travel. That don’t have those opportunities – we’ll get to meet all those people. All those strangers that we come across.
365 Docobites is live! Above is their latest video from New York City.