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How do you create an effective script/outline and production schedule for a webisodes documentary series?

by Shante C.
(Cleveland, OH)

Hello! I've been working on my first documentary for over a year now. Its about music festival culture & communities. My goal was to start shooting at the beginning of festival season on 4/2/12.


Although I wont be able to meet this deadline for the full length film, I'd like to shoot a series of 5-10min videos at every festival this summer. They'd be used as part of a unique fundraising and marketing campaign which, God willing, will provide us with funding so we can begin shooting the full documentary next summer.

How do you write a script or outline for a webisode series (think trailer meets the 'making of' in an episodic format)? And any advice on how to plan to shoot the series especially on such short notice?

Desktop Documentaries | answer

Your first step will be to decide the "theme" of each webisode. Are you simply documenting each festival like a news story ("here's what happened") or is there a certain element you want to focus on at each festival (fans, bands, music, tourism, set-up/logictics, business side of music industry, etc.)

Create a list of all the different elements you want to capture and decide what you want to focus on at each festival. Perhaps you want to ride along with a fan as they travel 200 miles to get to the festival. Perhaps you want to spend the whole festival with just one band.

Once you create your list and narrow down your themes, decide what shots and interviews you need to tell each "mini-story". Write out the type of questions you want to ask and think about your "style" of shooting. Are there any creative elements you want to include in your documentary/webisodes such as stop motion or bits of acted scenes? If so, think of those in advance in case you need to shoot those during the festival.

What is your storytelling technique? Are you using a host or a narrator? Or is this cinema verite style?

Something else that can be extremely helpful is to write out a "pretend" script for each webisode. Imagine you have already shot everything and write out the type of quotes and scenes you "expect" to get and how the story might be told. This is what's called a treatment. It might start out something like this: THE FIRST SHOT IS A WIDE PAN ACROSS AN OPEN EMPTY FIELD THAT FADES TO THE EXACT SAME SHOT FILLED WITH THOUSANDS OF SCREAMING FANS...

Also, a BIG thing to consider for your project is music copyright issues. Remember, that any music you use in your production will need to be cleared with the copyright owners. Learn more about music copyright issues.

Best of luck with your project. Above all, make sure you get great sound!

Learn more about How To Write a Documentary Script and How To Make a Documentary.

Comments for How do you create an effective script/outline and production schedule for a webisodes documentary series?

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Mar 08, 2012
Tell us how it goes
by: Desktop Documentaries

Shante.. please make sure to check back here on this page and let us know how it goes!

Jun 22, 2014
any updates?
by: Desktop Documentaries

Hi Shante,
It's been a couple years since you wrote in and told us about your project. How did it go? Any updates on the project?


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