Write it right: How to make a powerful documentary film

The world is changing and so too are the ways to capture its realities. Media outlets provide an avenue for daily reminders of global events. Yet what about topics that require more in-depth analysis and exploration? Documentary films perfectly provide insight to compelling topics while presenting them in an easily digestible and visually arresting manner. Listed below are a few tips to consider in creating documentaries:

Stick to the core: This is especially true for beginning filmmakers. The lure of controversial issues – such as abortion, nuclear power, racism, etc. – should not limit filmmakers and distract them from what they want to talk about. The most powerful documentaries are those whose topics interest their directors. Consider the film an extension of one’s belief system; the audience can tell when a product is half-hearted.


Image Source: waytooindie.com

Be clear: Many modern documentaries are limited by political correctness. This is not to say that all documentaries need to be rogue. There are good stories that fall within societal sensibilities; yet directors need to be clear on what they want. If their goal is to expose another side of an issue – one that is definitely controversial – then they should have a no holds barred approach.


Image Source: thefilmstage.com

Listen to criticism: It can become a soul project. It is common for directors to become attached to their work, and with good reason. Still, personal aesthetics and goal-setting should not prevent directors from expanding their knowledge by listening to other people.

Remember that documentaries constitute a branch of filmmaking. They are not fictional pieces. They offer another view of the world. The nature of the documentary is a responsibility that must be taken very seriously.

Randy Wooten uses his spare time to make documentary films. For more information, subscribe to this blog.


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