How to Film a Documentary?

How to Film a Documentary? That has been taught here through this write-up. If you are inquisitive about filming a documentary then this instructive article may be proved helpful for you. So, keep reading the entire article.

There are some core differences between filming a short film or full feature and filming a documentary. But, the whole making process of a documentary has some basic steps as filmmaking like pre-production, production, and post-production.

In this article, I will only enlighten the production part that is filming a documentary. To understand this concept clearly, you have to know first what a documentary is. Let’s begin with a simple definition.

What is a Documentary?

Documentary refers to a non-fiction video or short film that informs viewers about real-life topics, persons, circumstances, any true events, or problems. It is made typically for educative purposes. It is more detailed as well as informative which often provides a persuasive tone. Documentary usually filmed with a gravity that hopefully inspires spectators as it depicts real-life situations.

3 Fundamental Steps to Film a Documentary

Every production including documentary needs pre-planning before going to principal photography. When you find a worthwhile idea as your documentary topic then research it. Meanwhile, you can make a story structure if you want to present it as a docudrama.

There are several types of documentaries. Whatever type you want to make, you need to pre-plan and have to write fundamental screenwriting that will guide you in your actual shooting. In the following, here are a few steps that you can take as tips or guidelines while filming your next documentary.

1. The Interview

The interview is a part and parcel of a documentary. Except for poetic documentary, almost every type of documentary has an interview part. It is the main emotional part that can connect immediately with your audience. When you take an interview with your source this could grab the audience’s attention and keep them involved to watch the entire documentary.

Firstly, conduct an interview with someone who is truly involved with your documentary topic. The most important thing is what that person narrates or how he/she is conveying information. It is also important to consider lighting and a good background for an interview. Lighting is very important to give your source depth.

While taking interviews of individuals, their own opinions and reasoning the story is needed as well. You need to film that person’s sayings along with perfect camera angles and good quality of recorded audio. Make sure that their voice is as clear as possible. Keep in mind that what you gathered from interviews is the heart of your documentary. This is why visual and audio are important factors while taking an interview.

2. Relevant Visuals

Apart from the interview, you may need to capture some nice visuals that are relevant to your documentary. Try to capture visuals following certain grammar and some key rules. Use various types of shots using different camera angles. This step will help you in post-production when arranging visuals according to your story. Utilize camera movements where necessary.

Above all, try to collect some artistic ideal footages which are accurate in terms of audio-visual grammar and relevant to your selected topic. Maintain the rule of thirds when there is a particular subject or object in your frame.

3. B-Roll

For makers, this is the most fun part. This is where you gather the extra footage that will be played over most of the audio gathered from interviews and voice-overs. B-roll footage provides the viewer with a sense of context. B-roll footage can be simply captured or it can take a series of pre-production meetings to ensure that a consistent style is being followed.

You can shoot b-roll footage before or after interviews. It’s a good idea to do both if you can. While you don’t need to record everything, do take liberties when shooting b-roll. Give yourself plenty of options by shooting a lot of b-roll footage that really helpful in post-production.

Moreover, what are you going to show visually that helps to propel a story in the direction you are looking for, this could be a really fun part. You can do a simple search on YouTube and get an idea about B-Roll footage. You will find there a bunch of short documentaries which used B-Roll footages.

Final Words

One more additional suggestion I would like to include in conclusion that is before going to film a documentary you should watch best documentaries till now. You can follow their making style. You can get inspiration from them and try to make your documentary in your own way. But, do not plagiarize other makers. Copy exactly the same content will not help to flourish your talent. Try to add your own artistic pattern of making. However, I hope I succeeded in teaching you how to film a documentary. Try to utilize these guidelines while making your next documentary. Good Luck 🙂