Let's Make A Documentary!

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." 

- Robert Bresson, French Film Director

Hello friend and welcome!

Empowering you to tell your story is what Desktop Documentaries is all about.

This site is dedicated to first-time filmmakers looking for guidance, perspective and insight about documentary filmmaking.

Now empowering more than 1.4-million filmmakers and video enthusiasts every year!

Are you...

  • Brand new to filmmaking and need a step-by-step introduction to the filmmaking process? 

  • A video hobbyist eager to learn more about the world of independent filmmaking?

  • A professional video producer or filmmaker looking to expand your skills into the documentary world?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you're in the right place!

If you've ever struggled with storytelling, fundraising, budgeting, interviewing, editing or what camera to buy (or anything else production related!).. we've got you covered.

Start Here with a FREE Documentary Starter Kit

Practical step-by-step tips, courses, templates and inspiration.

"I found your site by chance while suggesting crowd funding to a colleague. Congratulations, as someone who's made a living out of documentaries for 30 years, this is one of the most comprehensive summaries of what it takes to do it that I've ever seen." ~Leo Eaton · President & CEO at Eaton Creative

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What you will find on this site:

Free Documentary Tips

Every week, a new documentary tip is sent to your inbox to help you along your filmmaking journey. This is a free service offered by Desktop Documentaries to help filmmakers stay on track and motivated throughout the making of their documentaries. How cool is that? More than 50,000 filmmakers are already signed up!

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Documentary Crash Course

If you're ready to dive in, our popular 7-Day Documentary Crash Course will get you up and running right away.

Learn the major steps in the process and avoid the common mistakes of first time filmmakers.

Start learning documentary filmmaking today!

Documentary Funding and Fundraising

We know how tough it can be to raise money for your filmmaking projects. That's why we make a special effort to provide support, articles and resources to help you with your fundraising efforts. Get started with our exclusive Documentary Fundraising 101 Course.

Start raising money for your documentary

Publisher & Chief Instigator

Faith Fuller

Faith Fuller is the founder and publisher of Desktop Documentaries. She's been in the filmmaking and communications industry for 30+ years, producing 1500+ news stories, documentaries, short films, PSA's and educational programs. Her feature documentary 'Briars in the Cotton Patch' premiered on PBS, got distribution on Netflix and is currently offered for educational streaming on Kanopy. 

Fuller collaborates with a dynamic network of filmmaking colleagues who regularly contribute to Desktop-Documentaries.com as instructors, guest authors or contributors.

Guest Authors, Experts and Contributors

How To Get Your Documentary On Netflix - by Peter Hamilton - Netflix is in constant demand of fresh content to update their catalogue. Here are 4 "Must-Haves" to get your documentary on Netflix...

Top 10 Rules of Personal Documentary Filmmaking by Doug Block, Founder of D-Word - Not that I have ten rules, exactly. Or any rules, for that matter. But I do have some strong opinions based on having made a couple of personal docs myself...

How We Got Our Documentary Into 600 Theaters | MEOW WOLF: ORIGIN STORY by Jilann SpitzmillerWhen we began creating our distribution strategy in the spring, this end result was something I hadn’t even considered possible...

How To Organize 60 Years Of History Into A 94-Minute Documentary By Daniel Raim - Oscar nominated director Daniel Raim has spent the last 2 years pouring over stacks of photographs, old film footage and other archival materials...

Gear Kit For One-Man Documentary Film Crew By Bob Krist - National Geographic freelance photojournalist Bob Krist shares his ultimate filmmaking gear kit for traveling the world as a one-man documentary film crew...

How To Make A Documentary (And Win A $100K Grant) With Zero Experience by Daniel Zapateiro - Inspiration for his documentary "Paname: The Ghost of the Great Frenchman" came in early 2015. He had no formal training in filmmaking...

Top 3 Business & Marketing Tips For Filmmakers by Kevin Elliott, Owner of Wewa Films - If you’ve been a documentarian for more than five minutes, you know making documentaries is fun and selling them is hard... 

Documentary Fundraising: Confessions of a Professional Documentary Filmmaker By Sally Kaplan - As a member of a seasoned film producing “duo” with numerous programs under their belt, she explains that fundraising does not get any easier. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news...

Gear List for Small-Budget Video and Documentary Projects by Jeff Nesmith - Over the years, I have shot and edited mini-documentaries for a range of clients in the nonprofit and development sectors all over the world...

Documentary Adventures: Greek Film Crew Puts Lens on Sunken 1920's Submarine by Themos Rizos - When we started research for the “Y1: Silence of the Deep” documentary, we couldn’t imagine the complexity of the technical problems we would face along the way....

Documentary Funding: Documentary Core Application (What is it and Why it's important) by Hank Rogerson - The Documentary Core Application is a joint project between The Sundance Institute and the International Documentary Association...

How To Make A Full Time Living As A Documentary Filmmaker By Jilann Spitzmiller - A Sundance Institute Fellow and 3-time ITVS funding recipient, Jilann has been working as a full time filmmaker for 30+ years. She shares her top 10 tips for surviving the documentary profession...

Choosing Music For Your Documentary (Advice From A Composer) By Caleb Parker - If you're working on a film and need music, Caleb explains several options for sourcing music along with their "pros and cons"...

How To Raise $15,000 (and Beyond!) For Your First Documentary by David Williams - New York City-based filmmaker David Williams shares behind-the-scenes details of his first documentary endeavor revealing how he raised the first $15k and his strategy to raise even more!

Walt Laineenkare

Documentary Ideas: The Easiest Documentary To Make By Walt LaineenkareIn case you’re stuck looking for a great documentary idea, Walt lets you in on a little secret: the easiest documentary you’ll ever make is...

Documentary Crowdfunding Tips: How To Reach $10,000 In Two Weeks On Kickstarter By Iris Lai - Currently on her third documentary Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Here are her top tips for raising $10,000 (and beyond!)...

5 Cinematic Techniques For Making A Documentary More Impactful By Ron Dawson - As a documentary filmmaker, it's your job to tell a story. Just because it's a documentary, doesn't mean it has to be boring. Learn 5 cinematic techniques to make your documentary more impactful.

Copyright Question: Using Footage From The Internet For Your Documentary By Gordon P. Firemark - A visitor asks a question about using footage from the internet and entertainment attorney Gordon Firemark sets the record straight....

Tony Wise

An Unconventional Approach To Short Form Documentary Filmmaking By Tony Wise - The pitch, on the surface, was rather straight forward. For this project though the filmmaker wanted to try something a little different.

David Vine

How To Free Film, Video, Audio and Photos For Your Documentary By David Vine - There is an unimaginable amount of multimedia available to you. Here are some of the best sources to find free media for your documentary or video project...

Jilann Spitzmiller

How To Create An Accurate Documentary Budget By Jilann Spitzmillerprofessional and accurate documentary budget is essential to impress potential funders. Here are Jilann's top Do's and Don'ts when it comes to budgeting...

Adam Ybarra

Behind-The-Scenes: Former NFL Chaplain Makes Documentary About Gangs - First-Time Documentary Filmmaker Adam Ybarra shares lessons learned, his filmmaking gear kit and fundraising/distribution strategies.

Gladys Edeh

Top 10 Filmmaking Lessons Making Documentary Short "Mr Gele" By Gladys Edeh - Atlanta-based filmmaker Gladys Edeh shares her top lessons learned from the making of her documentary...

How To Choose Your Next Documentary Idea By Mike Raab - Good stories are as close as your nose. That's advice from filmmaker Mike Raab on how to choose your next documentary idea.

"Story Is What Matters" Five Documentary Filmmakers Share Insights (Phoenix Film Festivalby Cassidy Poling - The 5 filmmakers who were showcased on the panel talked about the process of making their films and what they learned from it.

Amber Talarico

Making My First Documentary: Interview with Amber Talarico - Amber Talarico recently completed her first documentary about the make-up artist industry. She shares lessons learned and what's coming up...

Best Documentary Video Camera for (under) $2500 by Matt James Smith - Looking for a great video camera to shoot your documentary that won't break the bank but still give great results? Matt James Smith walks us through the options...

10 Reasons Why Traveling The World Has Made Me A Better Filmmaker By Ashley Meek - After graduating with a BFA in Film Studies she decided to take a leap of faith into the unknown and take several months on a solo backpacking trip around the world...

Jason Brubaker

How To Get Your Movie On Netflix by Jason Brubaker - Digital film distribution executive Jason Brubaker explains how an independent filmmaker can get their documentary on Netflix.

What Is A Radio Documentary? by Bernie Lucht - Veteran radio producer (CBC), Bernie Lucht, explores the basics of radio documentaries, offering inspiring insights and how to get started in this genre of storytelling.

Secrets of Cinematography: 10 Elements of a High Quality Image by Ebrahim Saadawi - Is cinematography all magic and mystery? Or can the craft be broken down scientifically? Learn the 10 things that create the “secret sauce” of a high quality image.

How To Make A Life Documentary Of Your Parents By Carolien Oosterhoff - Six years ago Carolien started capturing her parents’ life stories on camera. Here are 10 do's and don'ts she learned along the way.

Matt James Smith

Cinematic Documentary Camera Gear Package For (just over) $1,000 By Matt James Smith - If you're looking for an affordable camera package that gives gorgeous cinematic results, here's what you need.

Shooting Solo: A Low-Budget Filmmaker's Equipment List By Joseph East - When your documentary is self-funded, your resources are tight and you can't afford to hire additional crew, do you just throw in the towel?  NO WAY!  Here's Joseph's low budget filmmakers equipment list.

RealScreen Summit 2019: A First-Timer's POV by Duncan Sill - I have been involved in the film industry for 10 years now, primarily working with narrative productions and infrastructure development. I attended RealScreen Summit 2019...

Becoming Your Family Video Biographer
by James Duke - This post describes James' journey making his family video biography. Lessons learned, his gear list and video samples.

Three Simple Rules For Making Documentaries By Kevin Railsback - Recently Kevin talked to the panel of judges of a local film festival about what they looked for in a good documentary film. They unanimously agreed on three things that they wanted to see in a documentary.

Mimi Chan

Why I Made A Documentary About My Father | The Inspiration Behind "Pui Chan: Kung Fu Pioneer" By Mimi Chan - The most common questions Mimi has been asked at film festival Q&A's have been: "Why did you decide to make a film about your father, how did you get started, and how long did it take?"

Crowdfunding For Filmmakers: 5 Questions To Consider Before Launching By John T. Trigonis - Do you need money for your documentary or indie film? Don't jump into crowdfunding without considering these five key questions.

Jason O'Brien

How To Choose Your Documentary Idea | The Story Behind "Cuddle" By Jason O'Brien - Are you struggling with how to choose your documentary idea? Here's how Jason KNEW he had a good documentary idea and why he decided to make a documentary about cuddling.

S'ambrosia Wasike

Top Ten Lessons From A Newbie Filmmaker by S'ambrosia Wasike started their Kenya-based video production company. Here are their top lessons learned, plus gear list!

The Odd World of Documentary Filmmaking | The Story Behind JONNY by Massimo Salvato - He did not really decide to make a documentary, or at least not in the conventional way of writing a proposal and presenting it to potential funders. His passion and commitment for the film unfolded and grew....

Jen Senko

The Brainwashing Of My Dad Documentary | Lessons In Filmmaking by Jen Senko - Jen finally began work on a documentary that she's been wanting to do for the last dozen years.. 

How To Make A Documentary | Finding Your Story by Samuel W. Reed - There's an old saying in Hollywood about documentaries being written 3 times: First, with the Inception of the Idea. Second, with the Shooting of the Idea and finally, in the Editing of the Idea...

Diving & Rescue Documentary | Gear List by Tony DeRose - By day I'm an Instructional Designer, Technical Writer, and do voice-overs (inter-company). By night, I'm a member of a volunteer dive rescue unit. 

Audio Recording Options for DSLR Videography by Pratik Panda - Don't you want the best audio quality possible for your video production projects? Pratik Panda shares some of the most common audio recording options when shooting video with your DSLR. 

Behind The World's First Documentary (And What Today's Filmmakers Can Learn From It) By Daniel Cantagallo - Many have proclaimed that now is the golden age of documentaries and, with Sundance just wrapping up, there has been a lot of rich and vibrant conversation around the form (what it is and what it isn't).

How To Work With A Composer by Joseph East - Are you looking to hire a composer for your documentary? Documentary director Joseph East ("I Will Dance") offers 5 tips and lessons learned.

Video Lighting Techniques for Videos and Documentaries by Lorraine Grula - When it comes to making videos and documentaries, your lighting makes a bigger difference in the quality of your finished product than what kind of camera you use.

Pratik Panda

Audio Basics 101 | Tips & Tricks To Get Great Voice-Over Narration On A Budget by Pratik Panda - Are you wondering why some videos have wonderfully rich sound and your audio sounds hollow, tinny and empty? Here are a few easy tips to improve the quality of your audio.

Documentary Ideas: How My First Documentary Came Looking For me by Barbara ReinaThey found it in the library basement and I helped them turn it into a documentary. It all started with a key. 

DSLR Audio | MixPre-D Review by Larry Vaughn - What's the best way to capture professional audio with a DSLR?  Freelance video producer and sound mixer Larry Vaughn shares his favorite gear to get the job done.

Join Our Team

Desktop Documentaries is always on the look-out for talented guest writers and bloggers to contribute articles, videos and reviews for this site. 

There are several ways you can write for us. You can start right now!

  1. Write An Original Article Of Your Choosing
  2. Share Your Video Gear List
  3. Share Behind-The-Scenes Of Your Documentary Project

If you would like personalized suggestions just for you, contact us. We've got tons of ideas!

*Brand New: We are now accepting applications for filmmaking instructors to teach courses in our Documentary Learning Center. Open to qualified award-winning documentary filmmakers. Contact Us for more information.

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FREE Documentary Tips! Yes!

Get free weekly documentary tips sent straight to your inbox. This is our special gift to help you stay motivated and inspired. Just enter your info below and let's get started!

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