Tips For Documentary Filmmaking

Film school online
Film school online

Documentary filmmaking is a long process and sometimes an exhausting one. You must be prepared for disappointments and for the process of learning from those disappointments.Since you don’t have a deadline to finish shootings, as oppose to fiction films, You can find yourself shooting for years and spending, even more, years on editing the film.

The important thing to know is that when you’ll do a documentary that will work, the benefits are great! You get to explore undiscovered sides of your life and to share your voice, which turns out to be the voice of many others, with your viewers.
this is a result that has no price.
I wanted to start this documentary filmmaking course with some tips to get you start

So here are some Documentary filmmaking tips to help you get started:

Documentary director’s characteristics

As a Documentary filmmaker, you must do whatever it takes to document what is important and meaningful in your opinion. A documentary filmmaker is a one who lives to reveal hidden truths. With that, even when you tell the complete truth, you may fail, if you won’t be able to prove your film as such. A documentary filmmaker needs to have the ability to tell a story through visual images, and to be able to touch the emotions of his audience with the help of these images.When you’ll deal Documentary with a particular subject, as a filmmaker, you must be aware of three things:

  1. All the features and the point of views of the same subject,
  2. To be aware of the emotional changes that apply to him when he was exposed to the details of that world,
    and of course
  3. Be aware of the medium with which he communicates.

You will achieve awareness of these three things from repeating practice.

Communication with the viewer

The cinematic language you’ll choose to transfer your ideas has a great influence on your communication with your audience. Your movie audience needs to understand as soon as possible the message you want to discuss, and how you are going to deal with it. On the other hand, What you really need to decide is, what is more, important to you- Delivering the viewer a message or learning something about yourself and delivering it to the viewer. In my opinion, a good documentary film should be able to take us to a world of ideas we didn’t know or were too afraid to go in by our self. To help us go into these worlds outside our boundaries, a good story is a must.

Film or Video

There are many benefits to shooting in a video. A lot, actually. George Lucas once said about moving to digital that “It’s as profound a change as going from silent to talkies and going from black-and-white to color. It gives artists a whole range of possibilities that they never had before”. The advantages are big: You can shoot with a relatively small camera, which helps greatly in documentary shootings, especially if you do not want to stress your film’s object.
In addition, you can use a very large amount of raw material – As much as you want really – and it doesn’t cost much very compare to film. You can also move your materials to film (Of course there are preparations to be done).
On the other hand, there is nothing like the look of the film, so if you still shooting on film, do a lot of tests with video and know what you’re going to take and how to in advance.


Let’s be honest. In today’s world chances that your documentary will be shown in big theaters are pretty low. Today you are able to distribute your own movie over the Internet and it’s not a method you should take lightly. Many filmmakers have done just that. They picked a site where the audience could for a small fee download their movie and watch at home. Sometimes the site also contained behind the scenes of the film, trailers and more. This is a method that saves costs drastically and most importantly it is reducing your dependence on production companies and could help your chances to reach more people than on TV. The distribution through the internet is great mainly because your can reach directly to the people that most likely will take an interest in the film and not just everyone like TV does.

I hope these Documentary filmmaking tips helped you to understand what it really means to be a documentary filmmaker. I f you think you like it, I invite you to read the rest of my post in the documentary category.  I’m sure you’ll like it.

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