Documentaries

Documentary films are based in fact, documenting some aspect of life and reality. They can have a powerful social and political influence. As a documentary filmmaker, it is my goal and intention to present material that is honest and well balanced – not merely to support a one-sided point of view or agenda. Though the scenes may be carefully chosen and arranged, they are not scripted, and the people appearing in a documentary are not actors. Some documentaries may rely on voice-over narration or interviews to describe what is happening, or the footage may speak for itself.

Before delving into a documentary project, I ask myself several important qualifying questions:

Is the subject timely, important and compelling enough to me to immerse myself in it?

Are the resources, visuals, interviewees, etc. available and accessible, or will the project require an extensive time commitment and materials and travel budget?

Am I the appropriate filmmaker to bring this subject matter to the world?

Once I have decided to move forward, this is my general process in beginning production on a new documentary project. Sometimes several steps are active simultaneously:

  1. I watch other related documentaries to see what is already out there and available to the public. This can help me present a different outlook and angle, and not ‘re-invent the wheel’ by duplicating information.
  2. I research my subject as thoroughly as possible, through a variety of forms and media.
  3. I create a structure and outline for my film – a blueprint for shooting. This includes my vision for the general aesthetic look and feel of the film, the possible inclusion of interviews, still photographs, archival footage, music, narration, text, etc.
  4. I analyze my wants and needs for the film – what resources are easily accessible, what will require more extensive time and energy? I make a Wish List of the resources I might like to have for the film – and ways to go about manifesting them.
  5. I consider my financing options – grants I might apply for, documentary funding programs, fundraising events, self-funding, etc.
  6. I set up a Production Schedule and begin shooting!
  7. I begin the Post-Production process by transferring all my footage to DVD. I take stock of my footage through Logging (making notes about usable clips), and prioritizing according to quality and relevance. I bring all related materials together and I edit!
  8. Once complete, I am eager to share my film with the world! Depending on circumstances, I may upload it to the internet, seek a distributor, send it out to the film festival circuit, host screenings, burn DVDs and get it out and seen far and wide. I breathe a huge sigh of relief for a job well done!

Examples of my work: