Category Archives: Documentary Films

A few Doc films and what I learned making them.

Little Violins

Dir. Evan Hartney

Little Violins-Faux Documentary.  One of three Cinematographers/Camera Operator. Follow the mute boy Jackson, and his fascination with capturing peoples’ stories for documentary purposes. Jackson sets the stage to capture the broad range of emotions that people are willing to share with someone who is only capable of listening.


Dogs from Joe Bourekas on Vimeo.

Dogs-Faux Documentary. Cinematographer/Camera Operator. A budding documentarian provokes directionless losers into becoming violent criminals in order to exploit them for his “masterpiece”.

This film required a lot of staging and thinking about how best to seem like a single camera documentary crew, while still providing an interesting film-like aesthetic. The big challenge to this film was finding a way to look like a believable one crew documentary. This meant picking apart the script with the director to find natural “cut points” in the script where the character of the filmmaker would cut to a differnt point in a conversation. To make the video feel real, we essentially had to make each cut feel like something happened between the last cut and the next cut that the filmmaker chose not to show the viewer. The hardest challenge technically, for me, was to find a way to fight my cinematographer instincts and appear to look “professionally homemade”. My favorite shot in this piece has the be the turning point with the gun. The long build up and the character break within the camera really set a precedent for how out of control the narcissistic filmmaker’s project got.

The Good: This piece screened at UCSC for a combination of the classes Senior Exit Narrative as well as Senior Exit Documentary. That means documentaries and narratives were played without a break separating docs from narratives. When this piece played, and the character shoots at a house, people thought they were watching an actual documentary. A funny story, but it also proves I nailed the doc aesthetic!

The Bad: I should’ve gathered more insert shots of the havoc they wrought. This would’ve showcased their progression better, from petty vandalism to real crime. As it stands, the vandalism they do does not look that drastic or grand, and thus makes them look less intimidating.

Aloha Friday

Aloha Friday from Joe Bourekas on Vimeo.

Aloha Friday-Documentary. Cinematographer/Camera Operator. Understand Aloha and the Hawaiian cultural community facilitated at Pono’s Hawaiian Grill in Santa Cruz. A bar that has a lively crowd of Hawaiian cultural enthusiasts who get together to play music, dance, and sing together.

This was a no prep shoot, I just grabbed my gear and shot anything I could pick up that caught my eye. The setup was light, with no camera stabilizing gears or rigs, just me, the camera, and the camera strap.

The Good: I was able to find many interesting engaging moments through the crowd through insert shots to really highlight the little things that conveyed the energy of the bar, while also finding ways to simply sit back and observe.

The Bad: The environment had so much going on, I was constantly responding to things as opposed to being ready for them and catching them at the right time. A lot of shots are really shaky, and at times things look as if they were done by an amateur. I now have gear for mobile operation, including a shoulder mount for my DSLR, which will be helpful for future shoots like this.