Share celebrity photos or facts.

Voice Your Opinions With These Documentary Film-making Techniques

Documentary Filmmaking Techniques
While making a documentary, a filmmaker is bestowed with a lot of responsibility towards his audiences because a documentary is made to throw light on a grave matter, or an issue concerning the public at large. Therefore, he has to be well acquainted with the techniques involved to better his work, or come out with a real good movie, depicting his subject properly. To know more on the same aspect, keep reading.
Divya Bichu
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2018
A documentary film is a lot different from a typical Hollywood movie, not just in terms of making it but also in terms of its objective and purpose. Now, if a documentary were to be defined in simple language; it is a way to document reality in the form of a movie. Although the motion pictures in a documentary are carefully chosen and arranged sequentially, it is definitely not scripted or unreal. It is more to do with actuality and often includes interviews of people associated with the subject of the movie. Usually, documentary movies happen to be intense, however, there can be various other genres like ironic, amusing, absurd, shocking, inspirational or even a combination of the above-mentioned. Traditionally, the length of such films are supposed to be 30 minutes to 2 hours, however, the filmmaker is free to extend the time-span, in case he has to explain the subject in brief. However, he has to make sure of keeping the audience interested all the while.

Before we get to the crux of the documentary making techniques, it is important for every aspiring documentary filmmaker to view a lot of documentaries to get a decent grasp of the big picture, i.e not just watch the movie but also study what must have gone into making that particular documentary, how every shot must have been shot or how perfectly the locations in the movie complemented the subject, what must have gone into the director's head while shooting the scene in this fashion, and so on. Here are a few other aspects you must consider while making a good documentary movie.

Documentary Filmmaking Tips

#1 Goals and Objectives
Unless you are clear about what you want to showcase, you will not be able to portray the same to your audience. Hence, it is important that you know the purpose and objective of making the movie very well. Once you know the subject well, it becomes easy for filmmakers to even make a documentary without words (which usually happens to be the soul of the movie). Moreover, if the objective of the movie is clear then the very purpose of screening this movie is successfully achieved.

#2 Understanding the Genre
Most documentary movies follow the thought-provoking style or rather the more intense genre, however, as a filmmaker you are free to explore all the different types. Now, it is the genre of the documentary that will decide the use of photographs, real events, videos and interviews, which when edited together will create an appealing impact. The genre would also determine how the scene has to be shot, therefore, it is important for a filmmaker to understand the style he wants to mold his documentary into.

#3 Defining Your Subject
The essence of a documentary movie is to fulfill its purpose; whether it is to inform, teach, educate, or entertain. Moreover, the subject should be defined in a way such that it makes the film dramatic, attractive, appealing and stand out from other films previously written or presented on the same subject.

#4 Thorough Research
Making a documentary film provides the filmmaker with a fair chance to communicate his opinions and ideas related to the subject of his movie. However, it is important to support claims with proper facts and proof, while providing opinions or a specific message concerning the topic. To gather all the proofs and facts, it is important for a filmmaker to conduct a thorough survey of the subject.

#5 Realistic and Believable
When you have authentic facts and information about the subject, it automatically makes your documentary look realistic and believable. The best way to authenticate your information is to interview people who are experts in the subject and take notes of the same.

#6 Getting the Sound Right
It is not very difficult to start rolling the camera and get the right shots needed to screen your documentary if you have a decent camera and the skill to shoot it right. However, the most difficult of all is to get the sound right, which is the soul of any movie and without which interpretation becomes difficult. So, make sure you have the right apparatus to record the sound in sync with the picture to create the right kind of impact.

#7 Exposition
Exposition usually occurs at the beginning of the documentary or when one has to introduce important subject matter in the movie. This aspect is important because it acts like a trailer, which gives the audience a brief idea of what the film is going to be like and introduces the audience to the content and characters (if any) of the movie.

#8 Ask for Opinions
When you are done with making the documentary, make sure you show it to a few close friends, family members, or your mentors to get proper feedback and some genuine critical reviews. If you're convinced about what they have told you, get back to improving a few scenes or adding new scenes, whatever the case may be. Remember, it is your documentary, therefore, change the content or add new scenes only if you are convinced of the same, it is not compulsory, as reviews are subjective and might differ from person to person.

Most documentary films follow certain preset rules. However, lately, documentary filmmakers are bending the rules, reordering the content, and editing interviews to make the story all the more interesting, which is fair and encouraged if done with a good intention. Therefore, don't be afraid to introduce creative ways to make your documentary appealing and stand out in the league of other films.