Tips on Documentary Filmmaking

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To make a documentary film, research the subject thoroughly, shoot a lot of material and interviews, and craft the film in a way that creates a narrative for the audience. Present documentary film footage in an honest way with integrity using advice from a writer, director and editor in this free video on filmmaking.

Part of the Video Series: Script Writing & Filmmaking
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Video Transcript

Alright folks, in this clip I'm going to give you some tips on documentary film making. Tip number one, know your subject inside and out, do your research, know exactly everything, as much as you can anyway, everything there is to know about this subject that you're presenting to the audience. Go there, study everything that you can study, read up on it as much as possible, this is incredibly important going in. Tip number two, shoot a lot of material, follow your subject or subjects around, talk to experts, interview people, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. This is not like shooting a script in where you follow a shot list and a storyboard, even though I'm sure you can create both of those things for documentary if you want to, but this is about covering your subject as thoroughly as you possibly can. Tape is cheap, more than likely that's what you're going to be shooting on, so, shoot, shoot, shoot some more, that is tip number two. Tip number three, once you've got all your footage shot, and once you've studied and studied and studied your subject where you know it inside and out, you're going to want to craft away the way you want to present this subject to your audience. And in doing so you want to do it the most effective way possible, so write out a narrative so to speak. More than likely you'll have some sort of a host on camera talent or narration kind of guiding your movie along, so craft out their portion of the documentary and clearly lay that out so that you can match your- all the footage that you've shot to this narrative. And in doing so do it in the way that presents your documented material honestly, with integrity, but also in a way that draws people in and really gets them rooting for or caring about whatever it is you're trying to present. Follow these three tips, and you my friend will be well on your way to producing a successful documentary film.

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