YOUR STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:
12 Days to Documentary Launch
Below are 12 “do in a day” steps to get you moving forward.
Check off as many items below as you can before January 1st and share your progress in the comment section:
Day 1 - Outline your documentary
What’s the rough idea of your film? This list of questions will get you started.
If you’re struggling to organize your ideas (we’ve all been there!), map out the following:
- Who are the key people in your story?
- What are the key places in your story?
- What theme(s) are present in your documentary? For example: personal challenge, historical, social justice, journey, etc.
- What is the working synopsis of the documentary?
- What video and audio is important for the beginning, middle, and end of the film (also known as the three-act structure)?
Day 2 - Write your logline
What are the first words that come out of your mouth when someone asks you about your documentary?
This is your logline! AKA your film's FIRST impression.
In ONE sentence...
Tell me THE WHO - Who is your film's main subject? What do they do in the film?
Tip: Don't use specifics. Use general descriptors like, "an aging farmer, a fisherman, a group of scientists," etc.
Tell me THE NEW - What is surprising about this subject, place, or situation? What makes your story unique, groundbreaking, or even heartbreaking?
Tell me THE HOW - What style or path does your film take? Think about how your audience might describe your documentary. Is it investigative, adventurous, observational, intense?
Day 3 - Set up one interview and one location
Who are the people who can help you tell your story? Have you already established contact with them? If not, make the first call/email/text message and set up an interview.
Once you have that done, carefully choose a place for the interview. This is your documentary’s first location.
Day 4 - Write a one-page proposal
A proposal is your film’s business plan.
Start with one-page: write out what you plan to discover about your film’s subject(s), state the goal of the film, and describe what your story will look and feel like.
Learn how to write a winning documentary proposal here...
Day 5 - Pick your gear
Ok - here comes the exciting part. Think about the kind of footage you’re envisioning for your film.
Will you be able to use a tripod? If not, will you use a shoulder mount? What kind of audio will you be recording?
This documentary gear check-list will make sure you’ve got the essentials covered. Don’t forget the hard drive (or 2)!
Day 6 - Who's in your crew?
Documentary crews are notoriously small. Typically, they consist of a director, a field producer, a photographer or videographer, and a sound mixer.
Often times, one person assumes two roles, such as “director and photographer” or “director and field producer.”
Who would you like to invite to work with you on your film? Think up your dream team of collaborators. Take a look at this documentary crew roles breakdown to help you decide.
Are you determined to be the director, field producer, photographer AND sound mixer?
Read on for some tips on how to shoot a documentary with a one-person crew…
Day 7 - Dream budget
How would you make your documentary if you had UNLIMITED funds? Take today to write down the rough budget of your dreams... start big and trim down later.
Wondering what all goes into a documentary budget? Find our free cashflow worksheet and tutorial here.