How do I make a documentary?
photo credit: Shutterstock
Excited about making a storytelling film but don’t know where to start?
Here are some quick tips
By Grace Dobosz, Production Manager
What story do you want to tell? You need to develop your story with a clear beginning, middle and end, as well as a challenge that has been overcome that will lead to inspiration of others who watch your film. How can you develop your story?
What content do you need to tell your story? Telling a story isn't just about interviews and action shots. It also needs B-Roll. What is B-Roll? B-Roll is those extra, seemingly boring, clips and edits that help you bring a breadth of emotion to the story. These often forgotten clips can be the essential inspirational building blocks of your story. Here is an awesome, deprecating videographer’s take on B-Roll:
Ok so the guy in the video above has amazing equipment and you have...well...just a smart phone. Can you make a short film documentary? The answer is an astounding, yes! Check this out:
Also check out this related article on smartphone videography and our upcoming blog on microphone usage for interviews.
The Post Production.
Post production basically means "editing". You'll either love it or hate it. My best advice? Find someone who loves it because if you don't love it, you'll suffer and procrastinate until it's too late and produce a non-competitive product. Looking to add a post production team member? There are two kinds of post production friends: those with professional experience and those without. Among those without, make sure they have a lot of play time with Adobe Pro or Final Cut Pro X, these are the editing software programs that are pricey but allow one to make very professional post edits. But if you are lucky enough to have professional friends, beg them to help you out! After all, it's only a 5 minute short!
Want to know more about how to put together and editing plan and team? Contact our editing specialists on our Editing Resources page!
The Team and Timeline.
Overwhelmed yet? Don't be! Making a video is fun after all! There IS a lot of work to be done, but it can be a great time with friends. #1 advice? Don't try to do everything yourself, especially if you are new to filmmaking. Grab a team of friends--someone to refine the story, someone to edit/post, someone to film/design content and someone to direct/produce. Reach out to your community, you'll be surprised the depth of experience people have to offer and how much they want to play with video (yes there are people you actually LOVE to do post, so don't worry! :) Don't forget, you will need a timeline for completion. WWFC gives you 10 months from Oct to August to complete your project and you will need it! Don't try to jam it in the last 30 days!
Don't Forget The Legal.
Remember that you can get in big legal trouble for using others' content and for sharing video or music that you do not have permission to use. Check out our Music and Legal Responsibilities page for more information and how to cover yourself and protect all interested parties. For example-here is a must read on the legal use of interviews.