Do you have an idea for a documentary but don’t know where to start? Do you want to tell a story that needs to be heard but are not sure how you will go about filming it? Perhaps you are worried that your idea is too niche or experimental and no funding is available. Whatever your reason, the first step toward making your film happen is identifying the problems and the solutions. Not knowing where to start can be daunting but with a little research, planning, and patience, filming your documentary doesn’t have to be. Below are five simple tips that can help you get started in the right direction.
1. Outline your story and purpose
Before you start filming, it’s important to first outline your story and purpose. What do you want to say and why is it important? Is your film about something that needs to be heard? Why is it important? These are just a few of the many questions you should think about when outlining your story. If you are making a documentary about an issue that isn’t widely talked about, it can help to outline the problem as well as possible solutions. What are the causes of the problem? What are the possible solutions? Why is this an issue? These are just a few of the many questions you should think about when outlining your story.
2. Plan the story structure
Once you have outlined your story, you need to plan the story structure. Now is the time to structure and decide how you will tell your story. Documentaries can be structured in many different ways but the most common is a linear structure. A linear structure tells a story in chronological order, beginning at the beginning and ending at the end. A linear structure is good for stories that are more fact-based and straightforward. However, it does have its limitations, especially when it comes to more experimental or creative content.
3. Identify Your audience
Before you start filming, you need to first identify your audience. As you might have guessed, these are the people who will watch your documentary and how they will watch it. Who are they? What are their interests? Do they live in your city or country? You can use the internet to help you identify your audience. You can use social media sites like Facebook or Instagram to see who is interested in what you are doing. You can also use tools like Google Trends to see what people are searching for and to get a better understanding of the content you are planning to present. You can also talk to people around you to see what topics interest them. It’s important to identify your audience before you start filming, as it can help you find your voice and focus on what your audience wants to see.
4. Create a budget
Next, you need to create a budget. Now, this is not a budget for “how much money you’ll need” but rather a budget for “how much content you are willing to spend”. Your budget doesn’t need to match the budget of your video production, but it should match the cost of your content. The beauty of making a documentary is that it can be in many different forms, including video, images, and sound. You can use a voiceover, images, and even music to create a film that is affordable and accessible. Your budget for a documentary should cover the production costs of your video, such as travel, food, equipment rentals, and other expenses. It is also important to include your creative expenses, such as editors, colorists, and music producers.
5. Clear any copywriting permits
Now that you have your story and budget ready, you need to clear any copywriting permits. This includes getting any necessary permissions for your footage, images, or music. . There are several websites that can help you locate the necessary permissions. You can find these websites using the following search terms: “film rights,” “film permissions,” or “rights to footage”.
6. Begin shooting
Start filming! When deciding on the filmmaking equipment to use for your documentary, consider how you want your film to be viewed. You’ll need to use a higher resolution camera if you want highly detailed footage, as well as different lenses with focal lengths for varying types of shots. Establishing shots, for example, are crucial to put your scenes into context and to avoid confusing your audience concerning the story’s timeline. With that said, you may also want to figure out what filming techniques to use to achieve your desired footage.
7. Edit your video
Once you have filmed your documentary, it’s time to edit your video. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to sit down and watch the whole thing all at once. Instead, you should break the video down into shots and then sit down and watch each one. You can even use software like iMovie or Final Cut to help you break down the content into shots. Once you have broken down your video into shots, it’s time to start editing.
8. Promote and share
Once you have edited your video, it’s time to share it with the world. After the long hours of planning, filming, and editing, it’s finally time to show off the amazing result of your hard work and creativity. The next good problem that you will have to face is the choice of where you will be showcasing your work. If your final output is fairly high in quality, you’ll have more options, but it may also depend on your budget.
Now, If you think your film deserves to be marketed further, based on positive initial reactions and reviews, you can hire a professional distributor to help bring your film to a much larger audience. You can also consult local TV stations and other film distribution outlets for possible tie-ups and referrals.