Martin Scorsese:
Documentary vs. Narrative

Film director Martin Scorsese ("Goodfellas", "Hugo") reflects on both documentary and narrative filmmaking.  Do you know the difference?

What is the difference between narrative cinema and documentary filmmaking?

Very simply stated, narrative filmmaking is a pre-scripted movie with actors.

Documentary filmmaking is capturing reality in some way with the script often written AFTER the shooting has begun.

With narrative, the story and script are crafted in the beginning and with documentary, the story (often) unfolds as it happens. 

Is it harder to make documentaries or narrative films?

There are complex movies (think Jurassic Park) and there are simple movies. There are complex documentaries and simple documentaries.

I would say in general, narrative films are more difficult since they require much more coordination with crew, equipment and actors. 

The difficulty with documentaries often comes during the editing when a story must be crafted from the "rubble" -- the bits and pieces that have been gathered along the way. Whereas a narrative movie has already been scripted ahead of time.

What do you think is more difficult: narrative or documentary filmmaking?  Leave comments below or learn more about how to make a documentary.

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