Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Independent Filmmaking

Conventional Approach

      •Cover all the footage
      •Write the script
      •Do scratch narration

First or Third Person?
•Is your consciousness raised?
•Tell it the way you see it
•Are you using only your own footage?
•What sets your story apart from others?

News to Documentary

    •The news background is the perfect experience.
    •Experience is the key to being a good storyteller
    •You need to anticipate
    •Each news package is like a mini-feature


Key Skill Is Improvisation
•Adapt with the tools you have
•Listening to the world is important
•You make a lot of product


Making Documentaries

  • Is a journey of exploration and discovery
  • Just start shooting, assessing the viability of the documentary
  • Be aware when there is no story
  • Approach it artfully, thinking beyond just the visual image to the metaphorical
  • Think about transitions from one part of the story to another
  • Find your character
  • Make the leap and commit
  • Have confidence in your abilities and your ability with people.


Documentary Categories

      • Hollywood Formula, or Competition Documentary - the   underdog has to overcome some obstacle in order to achieve an epiphany.
• Muckracking, or First-person: you put yourself on camera. Requires that you get into people’s faces.

• Wildlife or Nature: entering the mainstream more and more 

• Idiosyncratic Profile Pieces: based on the auteur theory (director-as-author) in which the director is viewed as the major creative force. Derived from the camera-stylo (camera-pen) concept, where the director oversees all the fundamental visual elements that support the film. 


Business of Making Docos

  • Even if you own your own equipment there’s still the cost of distribution, music, talent
  • The product is a commercial success if it generates more income than it took to produce
  • To be popular it has to appeal to the widest audience possible


Raising Funds



Distribution Tiers

  • First Tier - Theatrical (Lion’s Gate, Focus Features, Think Film, Miramax)
  • Second Tier - Television (HBO) 
  • Third Tier - PBS Venues (Independent Lens, Wide Angle or POV)
  • Video and Educational Market (Bullfrog Films, Women Make Movies, New Day Films, and Filmmakers Library) 
  • Your own Website 
  • IndieDocs, IndieFlix, Film Movement
  • Local PBS stations


Click here to learn more

The Proposal and Treatment

Developing the Story

Shooting the Documentary

Independent Filmmaking