One Person Crew | How do I film my first documentary by myself?

by Felicia Daniels
(Oneonta, AL)

I want to make a documentary about abused/rescued animals and will be solely filming in Alabama while maybe going a bit further out towards the Atlanta area. As of right now it will just be me because I don't have the money to pay other crew members & I don't know how to find another person in my area who is as passionate as me about my topic. My ideal would be me & another person but for now it is just me.

I don't have any equipment right now because I don't have the extra money for it but I thought about starting a Kickstarter page to raise funds for the equipment, etc. Could I do this? How? And what all equipment do I need as a one person crew to film a professional looking documentary without having to buy such expensive professional equipment?

Also, I thought about turning my documentary into a docu-series for Animal Planet like their Animal Cop & Hoarders shows. Is there a way to do this? Because aside from focusing on abused/rescued animals I also would love to make documentaries about animal hoarders & at the same time help them get help & help them clean up their homes and turn their lives around. Advice for the best way to go about this? Or should I just film a documentary about the hoarding topic and send it Animal Planet? How?

Sorry for all the questions and thanks!!

Desktop Documentaries | Answer

Hi Felicia,

Whew, that's a lot of questions. Let me see if I can at least guide you on a few of your issues.

Regarding whether or not you can shoot a documentary by yourself, absolutely. Is it ideal? No, but when you have a bootstrapped budget, you make it happen any way you can! With that said, here's a great resource on how to find other filmmakers to help you:

How To Find Filmmakers

As for equipment, if you are shooting something for the web only, even an iPhone with a separate audio recording device (something like the Zoom H1) is enough to get you started. Of course, that's not broadcast quality standard, but it's enough to at least shoot a 1-3 minute trailer which you can use to raise money to buy better equipment and hire crew.

Low-budget documentary equipment list

To learn about Kickstarter and crowdfunding, start here.

How to pitch and sell your documentary idea to a TV network

Does that help? I hope that at least gets you started. If you have additional comments or questions, please submit below.

Comments for One Person Crew | How do I film my first documentary by myself?

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Aug 23, 2015
thank you desktop documentary..
by: Taskin

I love this page. Thank u thank u thank u sooooooooooooo much. I have exactly these questions in my mind those you answered. Thanx a looooooottt:*

Dec 28, 2015
Film Student
by: Jeff Hardigree


My name is Jeff and I an a soon to graduate Digital Cinematography Major at Full Sail universitys online degree program. I am also very passionate about animals and curious about what you are wanting to do. I also have some equipment. You may contact me if interested.

Jeff Hardigree

Jul 13, 2016
How you can start
by: Manish Tiwari

Hi, My name is Manish. As you say that you want to shoot a documentary but you don't have money. First I will like to tell you that you can make a documentary at a very low budget. You take a camcorder (you can buy one or take on rent) and start shooting your documentary. Now you need a crew member so you can take the help of your friends. After that within a few days, you can complete the shooting, you can edit with Windows Movie Maker or another software. Now the matter of dubbing. All these processes are very inexpensive. You have an idea and you have your story . I have shot a documentary and saw the problem with moving forward was with me. This is how I have done it, so dont be lazy with your dream and start tomorrow.

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