A documentary is defined as an official, factual record of some event, generally in movie or film format. Documentaries are often serious, educational attempts to describe reality, but the approach of filming and creating a documentary can include humor, satire, and irony. Documentaries can focus on current events, people, places, things, or they can look at historic occurrences. Material can be factual or fictionalized, but it is the “actual” and “real” nature that tends to separate documentaries from other types of movie media. Documentaries can range from a basic YouTube video explaining how to program your phone to a full-scale in-depth analysis of the Boer War in Africa.
The Beginning: An Idea and a Script
If you want to be a documentary film maker, a good starting place is to watch documentaries to get some ideas on how to structure your story and to take note of things that you don’t like. A good documentary focuses on a concept or a subject that is interesting. You need a vision. Decide what story you want to tell. Perhaps it’s a personal story of challenges successfully faced. Or maybe it’s the tale of an animal that lives in your backyard ecosystem. Maybe you just want to film yourself playing a popular computer game while you explain the steps, or perhaps you are exploring some aspect of the city you live in. The topic possibilities are endless.
Once you have an idea, however, you need to create a storyboard to recreate your concept in a logical and interesting way. You need to focus on what it is you want to convey – not just the story itself, but the reason why you are telling the story. You can use a freelance service to hire a screenwriting contractor to do the work, or you can do it yourself. Unsure of your screenwriting skills? There are plenty of ways to improve them.
Here are some screenwriting courses that can help you get your idea organized:
- Becoming A Writer
- Introduction To Story Boarding
- Film School On Demand – How to Make & Sell your First Movie
Ready to Film
Making a documentary requires at least a beginner’s knowledge of video movie-making. You may have an idea of the visuals you want to convey, and you know how to film and let the camera roll, but you need some structure. Begin by learning some basics of filming to make sure you are telling your story effectively. What things should you include? How do you develop character and style? Do you want to focus on challenges and how they are overcome? It’s not enough to know what you want to say, you need to know how to visualize it on camera and present it for the viewer. It is also important to know how to enhance your story with sound effects and music.
Try these video courses to tell your story:
- Make Better Videos – Tips from a Professional Filmmaker
- Video Foundations Course
- Anyone can edit videos: Movie Maker
- Video Editing Workshop Complete Beginners Course-Sony Vegas
- How to Make a Podcast with Garageband
Finally, you want to add some bells and whistles to make your documentary stand out from the crowd. It can be as simple as adding some catchy titles, or it can be more complex, professional-style video editing. If you are worried that your video editing skills are not up to par, start with the basics and build from there.
You’ve got your story told, your documentary filmed, and your video edited and polished to your satisfaction. Now you are ready to decide how and where you want to market it. Many people choose to upload their work to YouTube as a starting point. You don’t have to be a professional filmmaker to create a documentary that tells an engaging story and presents it in a manner that keeps people interested.
Learn how to do it: Create Awesome Videos That Thrive on Social Media & YouTube
With just a few tips from the experts, your documentary will soon accumulate page views and popularity, ensuring your status as an influential Internet documentary filmmaker. Once you know how, the possibilities are endless!