Basics of Making a Documentary | Production 101
Do you know the basics of making a documentary
and everything that's involved?
Many first time documentary filmmakers make the mistake believing that making a documentary is only about the creative process.
That's certainly a big part of it.
Assuming you are both the producer AND the director, I would say that the actual “making of the documentary” is only about 50% of the process. The other half of the process involves things like fundraising, buying/renting equipment, writing proposals, distribution, website development, film festivals, public relations, etc.
Of course, if you are only making a small film for yourself, then sure, you can enjoy a pure creative process. But if you have hopes of having your film widely seen and sold, then there are numerous factors you will need to consider.
Documentary Production 101:
The Basics of Making a Documentary
Here are the main stages of documentary production:
- Documentary Idea Development
- Setting up an LLC or S-Corp (for both your production company and the documentary)
- Protect Your Rights: Legal Documents, Releases, Insurance and Copyright
- Create a Documentary Proposal/Treatment
- Make a Budget
- Create a Fundraising Trailer
- Raise money for your project (Grants, Events, Crowdfunding, etc)
- Production: Hiring crew, Character development, Interviewing, Getting your shots
- Footage Transcription
- Scriptwriting – Even if you don't plan to have narration, you'll still need to create a “script” to show what will be seen and heard
- Post Production: Editing the film, putting it all together (music, graphics, color correction, animation, narration, etc.)
- Test Audience Screenings
- Publicity Materials/Press Packet
- Film Festivals
- Distribution Deliverables (master film, cue sheet, trailer, O&E Insurance, logos, etc)
- Distribution (VOD, Theater, DVD, Educational, Broadcast, etc)
- Win Awards, Take the Weekend Off, Start Again!
Learn all the nitty-gritty details of how to make a documentary with our exclusive 7-Day Documentary Crash Course.
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