Documentary filmmaking is a form of non-fictional media that records and presents an event, topic, or person to the public.

The term “documentary” can also be applied to any film that has been created in accordance with the techniques and practices of documentarians, even if not explicitly defined as such.



What Is Documentary Filmmaking?

Documentary filmmaking is a creative medium, but it also has rules that must be followed.

Film documentaries are typically made up of footage captured by the filmmaker and interviews with people who have been filmed for the documentary.

The film should start with an introduction to explain what this subject is all about and why you’re making this film.

Then there are many sections in between where filmmakers can show more footage or interview subjects to convey their point or tell their stories.



Documentary Filmmaking 101

Documentary films can tell the story of an entire life or a series of events. There is no set format for a documentary film, each one is its own miniature movie.

Documentary Filmmaking was born out of the birth of television when an unknown filmmaker with a burning desire to tell his/her story started filming in black and white movies to document life events.

Over the years, this form of documentary has taken on many forms and faces. Documentary filmmakers can now be found making home movies, music videos, art films, corporate videos, news clips, TV shows, and even stage shows.

If a documentary filmmaker s concerned about the audience they should be able to find a common ground to talk to their audiences.

It’s important that documentary filmmakers respect the audience and be respectful of their time.

Many times, certain topics cannot be included because they may offend or bother a particular person in the audience.

Documentary Filmmaking From Another Angle

But, Documentary Filmmaking is not only a creative outlet, it can also be a business.

There are many avenues available for you if you want to start your own company specializing in documentary films.

Documentary filmmakers must realize that their audience is not minded readers and that they need to provide reliable, clear, and concise information about the subjects of their documentary films.


Audience attention is very important in documentary films. Capturing someone’s emotion is essential for great footage.

The audience needs to see the filmmaker put all of his or her effort into the footage because if the audience isn’t happy with the film, it will make the film no matter how good it is not worth the money to produce.

Documentary Filmmakers can also earn revenue from their films; however, revenue is usually not from the film-makers directly but from the film distributors and networks.

The film distributors are organizations that purchase the rights to distribute the documentary across the United States and Canada.

They are responsible for making sure that all of the necessary elements are in place before the filmmakers can begin shooting.

They also take care of securing the best locations and ensuring that the actors and crew can get to them.

Documentary Filmmaking is more than just taking pictures and putting them on the screen. It takes forethought, planning, perseverance, persistence, artistic vision, and many other traits to create a great documentary.

However, if one can master these skills, they can certainly begin making their own small independent films that could possibly become profitable within the next few years.

How To Start Making Documentary Films?

Documentary films are a great way to share your story or the stories of others. They can be an incredible tool for changing minds and sparking social change.

But how do you make a documentary?

The first thing is research! You need to find out what your topic is, who it affects, what they’re doing about it, and why it matters.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to choose which format (narrative film with interviews or observational film) best suits your needs.

A narrative film will tell the story through interviews and clips from past events while an observational film will just show people’s day-to-day lives without commentary.

Next comes writing!

Start by brainstorming all of the themes of your documentary.

The making of a documentary film is an amazing process.

It can take years to plan, and months or even years to shoot footage for the final product.


The research that goes into it takes hours upon hours of reading and watching other documentaries.

What are some tips for making a good documentary?

1. Make sure you have enough funding before filming anything – this includes both money and time.

2. Keep your crew small so you can maintain control over the project.

3. Be patient with your subjects- they might be nervous about being filmed!

4. Don’t forget sound – get a boom mic if possible!

5. Edit, edit, edit!

6. Watch documentaries in their entirety before deciding what to do next.

Many people think that creating a documentary is as easy as filming and editing, but it can be quite an undertaking.

You may have heard of some famous documentaries like “Blackfish” or “The Cove”, but they didn’t just happen overnight.

It takes a lot of time and effort to create an award-winning documentary, so this guide will give you all the tips you need to get started on your own project.

Documentary Filmmaking History

Documentary filmmaking dates back to 1895 when Robert Paul created a documentary about the Chicago World’s Fair. Filmmakers have been documenting events ever since.

A documentarian is someone who documents or records something for posterity. There are many different styles of documentary filmmaking, but all of them share one thing in common: they show real-life footage and information from an event that has happened in the past.

Documentaries can be used as historical records because they often provide a way to understand what happened in the past through primary sources such as interviews with people involved with the event, press conferences, photos, and films from that time period.

Documentary Filmmaking School At New York Film Academy

The documentary filmmaking process is a complicated and lengthy one. There are four stages of production, which include pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution.

Pre-production includes all the planning that goes into producing the film, such as deciding on a topic for your subject matter or researching what kind of equipment you should use in order to make it more realistic.

Production is when you begin filming segments of footage.

Post-production refers to editing together all the pieces that were filmed during production so they can be pieced together in an orderly fashion while also being able to work with any audio tracks necessary (i.e.: interviews).

Once this has been completed, distribution will follow by either releasing it publicly or selling it to a company like Netflix.

Documentary Filmmaking School

Documentary filmmaking is the process of capturing raw footage, shaping it into a cohesive story, and then presenting those stories to an audience.

Filmmakers are often driven by their passion or cause in order to tell these important stories that might otherwise go untold.

Documentary filmmakers also have the opportunity to use their films as tools for social change and education.

The documentary filmmaking program at Chabot College provides students with extensive hands-on training necessary to succeed in this competitive field.

The program offers many advanced courses covering all aspects of documentary production including writing, directing, cinematography, editing, sound design, and postproduction.

Students can explore many genres such as experimental documentaries which do not follow traditional narrative structures or biographical documentaries.

Review Of The NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Program

The NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Program is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking.

NYFA offers courses in film production, documentary filmmaking, cinematography, editing, screenwriting, and producing.

Students are able to choose from various program tracks depending on their personal goals.

The coursework is intense but rewarding; every student will leave with skills that can be used in any industry they pursue.

Documentary Filmmaking Courses

Documentary filmmaking is not just about capturing the truth. Documentaries are often used as a form of activism to promote social justice and change, but they can also be created for pure entertainment purposes.

Documentary filmmaking classes will guide students through the process of making their own documentaries, and teach them how they work from start to finish.

The Documentary Filmmaking Degree is a degree that will teach you the skills necessary to work in the field of documentary filmmaking. The program includes courses on production, editing, and distribution.

Documentary filmmaking is a great way to tell stories and make a difference in the world. But what does it take to be a documentary filmmaker?

It takes grit, curiosity, and creativity!

Documentaries are an excellent medium for storytelling.

Documentarians have wide-ranging interests.

It’s possible to work in diverse fields of nonfiction media without becoming overly specialized.

You can find work as both a freelancer or a staff member.

Documentary filmmaking is a unique and important form of video production that cannot be replicated by any other medium.

It can reveal the most intimate details of an individual’s life, or show the effects on people’s lives from natural disasters.

In recent years, documentary filmmakers have become more prolific than ever thanks to technology like smartphones and affordable cameras.

This has led to a new generation of storytellers who are using their own experiences in their films- which is why we created this list of alumni from NYU Tisch School for the Arts’ Documentary Filmmaking program.

Many aspiring filmmakers work as researchers and camera operators for documentaries. If you’re looking to be a director, producer, or filmmaker then there are also many possibilities for your future.

How To Make a Documentary Film

If you are interested in learning how to make a Documentary Film, the first step is to learn how to shoot a Documentary.

This means that all of the skills needed to produce a quality film are learned.


When I make my films, I always start by shooting everything with my own camera and using film to document the entire process.

Once I have all of the equipment set up, I will then go out and get the shots that I need.

You will need to choose your scenes very carefully, since the story that you are telling may change based upon how you choose your subjects.

Your starting point should always be where the action is taking place, though you do not need to stop every few seconds to take photos.

Remember that you are using the photos as supplemental material, so you do not need to edit each and every shot.

However, when you are editing photos to use in how to make a Documentary film, you will want to focus on a particular subject or moment so that you can create the right effect.

Before you begin looking for subjects, you will need to determine how you plan to record your film.

There are two options that you can use for film production: either live-action or close-up.

If you plan on recording using live-action, you will need to practice shooting until you have the acting right and can capture the audience’s attention. If you plan to use close-up shots, you will need to study the skill of editing so that you can enhance the shots without making them too cluttered.

After you have determined what style of documentary film you will be making, you will be ready to choose the subjects that you will want to use for the movie.

Once you have chosen the subjects that you want to work with, it is time to go out into the world and look for subjects that are willing to be interviewed for the project.

When looking for subjects, you should consider only the subjects that you find interesting.

If you interview someone who does not interest you, chances are you will not make a compelling film. You may even decide not to make a Documentary film at all!

Once you have found the people you wish to interview, you are ready to start learning how to make a documentary film.


The first thing that you need to know how to make a Documentary film is lighting.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of successful film production. If you do not learn how to use lighting correctly, you will not be able to come up with an effective film that tells the story you are trying to tell.

The best way to learn how to light a Documentary is by watching other people work. In fact, if you can borrow some equipment from your local library, you will be better off than purchasing your lighting equipment.

Check out the lighting that is used in movies such as Edward Scissorhands or The Matrix. Learn from these movies and try to figure out how they made their films look so good.

After figuring out how they did it, then you will know how to make your own movie that will really pop.


The last thing you need to know how to make a Documentary Film is how to frame your shot.

Even though it may seem like a small thing, when you frame your shots, it makes all the difference in your movie. People will pay to watch a movie, not to look at each frame. Take the time to frame each shot in order to make your movie as impressive as possible.

Remember that it will take some time before you are completely done with your movie, so be patient. Once you have figured out the basics of how to make a Documentary Film, there will be no turning back.

The Different Types of Techniques Used in Documentary Filmmaking

Documentary Filmmaking is one of the most interesting forms of filming.

It has emerged as a major art form in countries all over the world like the United States and Great Britain.

Documentary films are mostly shot in a fictional and informative way to be used for teaching, entertainment, or historical documentation.

A documentary film is also a non-fiction motion image intended to document reality, usually for the purposes of educating, education, or simply maintaining a historical record.

Documentary films can vary greatly in style and purpose, ranging from personal documentaries done for family and friends to educational documentaries intended for schools and classrooms to political and social documentaries intended for a specific public.

Documentary Filmmaking was first documented in the 19th century. Initially, most documentary filmmakers used still photographs with powerful lighting techniques to create a documentary film.

However, as technology advanced, the process of filming progressed to include audio and now video as well.

The advancement of digital video photography has also made possible the production of quality films with fewer expenses.

Today, there are many advanced tools that have been developed that enable the production of quality documentary films. These tools help documentary filmmakers to achieve a number of objectives, including:

Visual And Audio

A major part of documentary filmmaking is the use of visual images and audio of a natural and sometimes surprising origin. Images may be from the natural environment or from a human’s point of view.

The audio, which often comes in the form of interviews, may be conducted by a variety of individuals, including paid researchers or individuals that are volunteering at the filmmakers’ initiative. Often, the narration is done by an actor.

History And Research

In documentary filmmaking, historical information is introduced through the use of research. Depending on the documentary, you may need to do a fair amount of research.

Documentary filmmakers use a variety of methods to gain information about a subject. One of the most common methods is researching the historical documentation of the location, people, and events featured in the film.

Another method is interviewing people who have firsthand experience in the subject matter of the documentary.

Interviews are commonly taken from newspapers or magazines that focus on the subject area.

Music And Sound

Music is an important element in documentary films. It is used to enhance the emotional content of a scene or convey a particular message.

Videotape is commonly blended with live-action, although some filmmakers use only audio. Audio is also often mixed with video for background, sound effects, or visual effects. A final blend is often used to supplement the picture.


A common feature of documentaries is the voice of the narrator. Most documentary filmmakers have a degree of formal training in the field, but many do not have formal training in the entertainment industry.

As such many documentary filmmakers use their own voice to narrate a film. Many times this is done because it helps to humanize the subject, as well as give the viewer insight into the subject.

Visuals And Graphics

Documentary filmmakers also commonly include graphics and images in their work. Graphics are used to enhance the film, add context, or provide a point of view.

However, graphic content should be utilized sparingly and appropriately. It should not take up most of the screen or distract from the content of the film.

Some filmmakers prefer to leave the use of graphics to the viewers, but others will use them heavily or aggressively.

The best approach to graphics is to use them as a tool, as in the case of montages and transitions.

When completed, a documentary can successfully fulfill its purpose. Documentary filmmakers should ensure they research each aspect of the production to ensure the content is strong and logical.

Following these steps ensures success in documentary filmmaking.