Saturday, October 11, 2014


Documentary [dok-yuh-men-tuh-ree] : based on or re-creating an actual event, era, life story, etc., that purports to be factually accurate and contains no fictional elements.
Although this class is focused on narratives, I felt like documentaries essentially do the same thing. They tell a story to the audience. They introduce a world, a conflict, and how it can be resolved or has been resolved. Narratives do the same, with an opening scene that is completely opposite from the ending scene, and a climax in the middle. The reason why I'm writing this is because recently, I researched more into documentaries and how to make a good one for my trip to Myanmar this winter. I feel like the same elements that make a documentary can also be applied to making a narrative film.

How to make an effective documentary

1. What is the message you want to convey?

I think this is an important question to ask yourself. Before you even think about what equipment you need, you need to find out what the focus of the documentary is going to be, and why you're filming this in the first place. What are the issues you want to address and offer solutions to? Is it going to be worthy of your audience's time? And make sure the topic you choose is also something that you're interested in, as well as enlightening and enganging the audience. Generally, documentaries are about controversial issues, and as well as educational. If you're going to provoke, fully explain.

2. No one likes to be lectured

Although it's the documentaries job to inform, you don't want to bore the audience and make them feel like they're in a classroom. This can also be applied to films as well: Don't tell, show. People don't go to see films to have a person tell them what the film is about. We go to see movies to see the emotions and the drama and the action. With documentaries, you don't want to lecture your audience and over inform them on the subject. Instead, you want to inspire them to learn more about your documentary and be involved as well. 

3. Outline, outline, outline

It honestly can't be emphasized enough. Outlining what you want to include in your documentary or film can help you organize your shots and time schedule as well. You don't wanna be out in the middle of the day ready to shoot, and not know what you need to film. Along with that, it's better to overshoot than to undershoot. You want to have more shots to work and edit with, especially if you're travelling to a location and you'll only be able to shoot certain days. Re-shooting sucks, and no one wants to go through all that effort, only to not have enough shots. 

4. Music 

Music can completely change the mood of a scene, even manipulate how the audience can react towards a clip because of the sound. It's one thing to enhance the scene with audio, and another to alter it's intent. When editing, it's important to ask if the shot can speak for itself. If it can't and you need music to alter it in anyway, chances are you're going to ruin it and make the audience feel disconnected and even feel different than what they were supposed to feel. 

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