How can I write a concept for a feature length documentary film?

by Noora

Question: I have an idea for a feature length documentary film, however I'm required to write a one page 'concept' for the film. It's for a school application and I have no idea what they want exactly.

I'm not sure what they mean by 'concept' and how can I possibly fit it all in one page and make it as compelling as possible.

Am I supposed to include details such as who I want to interview in the film and why? Or just what the film is about in general and the message behind it?

This is my first time trying to develop something like that and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


Desktop Documentaries | Answer:

Hi Noora,

Thanks for your question. You're right that it can be tough to figure out what to put in your documentary proposal... or in your case a "concept" paper.

The first thing I might suggest is to contact the person who will be evaluating your film concept and ask them for suggestions on what they'd like to see included. Perhaps there's something specific they're looking for. Also, you may want to ask them if they could send you examples of other concept papers that have been submitted to give you some ideas.

Other than that, my guess of what they are looking for is a synopsis or general overview of your documentary idea. Obviously, you can't go into too much detail in one page, so just provide the basics: who, what, when, where, what. It's probably not necessary to include your list of interviews in a one-page synopsis unless your documentary focuses on one or two primary characters that are relevant to the overall story.

For additional helpful tips, check out this article on How To Write A Documentary Treatment.

Or download the Documentary Proposal Template and Proposal Writing Guide packet which includes specific examples and sample text.

Please let us know if that's helpful or you have any other follow up questions by clicking the link below.

Publisher, Desktop Documentaries

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