11 Tips for Beginning Documentary Makers

Starting production on your first documentary can be an exciting — and scary — moment. On a couple occasions this summer I asked Twitter followers about their favorite or most memorable advice to new documentary makers. This post rounds up some of those responses. 1. START. Seriously, start. Do something, anything. Conduct some background research,…

Procedures for Making an Interactive Documentary

My colleague Amy Lauters recently gave me a box she received during her research on farmers’ wives. A family had sent it to her with the hopes she might find it helpful or interesting as part of her work. I took a quick peek at the box’s contents. It contained pictures, a geneaology, newspaper clippings,…

Some Observations from Recent Documentary Viewing

A few weeks back I watched about 45 documentaries in a short time. Part of that viewing was judging for a film festival, and part of that was doing some catchup on recent titles. When watching that many documentaries in such a short period, I noticed some patterns. Drones Drone footage is fun to create…

11 Lessons from a Workshop in Audio Production

In early November 2018, I attended a workshop in audio production presented by Owen Brafford at Film North in St. Paul, Minnesota. The class represents another step toward proposing a multi-media documentary production class. The following post brings together 11 takeaways from that too-brief afternoon workshop. 1. Learn a little physics. More specifically, learn a…

Book Goes Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Connected Documentary Productions

Documentary production processes differ greatly from the more streamlined (factory?) approaches of mainstream fiction media. Without the written script, paid actors, and deep budgets, documentary makers face many variables that might advance, pause, or change a film’s progress. Some of those variables might even halt the film’s production altogether. Learning about what happens on other…