Minding the Gap (2018) Thumbnail image
In 2018, documentary film enjoyed greater mainstream success than ever before. Hence, some are calling this the Golden Era of the genre. Noteworthy new documentaries like Minding the Gap and Bad Reputation: the Joan Jett documentary (both Sundance alums) made huge impacts on social media and with their theatrical runs. Minding...
Charlotte Regan give direction to her actors
The idea for director Charlotte Regan's latest short film came up naturally. "Drug Runner," which debuted today as a Vimeo Staff Pick, tells the true story of a 15-year-old cocaine dealer. The film's hybrid approach explores how he came into the drug scene and the inevitable results of living on...
Taking the time to immerse yourself in a variety of documentary styles and sub-genres will top up your doc-making toolkit with storytelling ideas
We read a lot about the proliferation of documentary styles and forms—the many different ways a director can approach the telling of a nonfiction story. But here’s the question: how does a doc maker decide on the form or style for her next film? Which will it be —...
If your next video project is about a challenging or bland subject matter, don’t be afraid to dip in and mix and match, you’ll know when you have the right combination of story elements that will keep the sandman at bay and your audience wanting more.
In our information-crammed lives, how many of us have been made to sit through coma-inducing fact-films or interminably tedious educational documentaries? Whether in school, at work or in community halls, chances are that while you were fighting off the sandman in the middle of a boring explainer film, your inner...
Coast to Coast to Coast: The Production Behind Canada’s C3 Television Event
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is buzzing with visitors eagerly crowding around product booths, where exhibitors are demonstrating the latest gear at Profusion 2017--the highly anticipated imaging technology show held here in November.  On the main stage of the Sony booth, three adventure filmmakers Peter Wall, Garry Tutte and Ryan...
Why Trust is the Most Important Factor in Capturing Great Documentary Video
Typically, when we watch a documentary we can only imagine what went into creating the story unfolding on the screen – the hours of research, deciding on what story to tell, the challenges of location shooting, and agonizing over what to leave in and what to cut in editing....
How Catalin Marin Built His Career as an Award-winning Film Composer
In William Shatner’s 2014 documentary, Chaos on the Bridge, the audience is given a ringside seat to the infighting among writers and producers during the creation of the iconic TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Accompanying the parade of insider talking heads, unpacking the backstage intrigue is a...
How Mockumentary Highlights Documentary Tropes - 1978 Beatles parody, “The Rutles - All You Need Is Cash.”
You could argue that the first films ever made were documentaries. As early as the late 1800’s, motion picture pioneers tinkered with continuously-running photographic equipment in order to study natural phenomenon and how the world worked. Actuality films of birds in flight, bodies in motion, cityscapes and historic ceremonies...
The Godfather of DocCinema - BBC Two - Documenting John Grierson (2014)
The orbit of John Grierson’s legacy touches almost everything we know about documentary. The five-foot something Scotsman with an orator’s voice single-handedly birthed the documentary form when cinema itself was still in its infancy.Just as Orson Welles pushed cinematic boundaries in the way Hollywood stories were told, so John...
Two man film crew shooting.
Producer, director and screenwriter Spike Jonze reminds the aspiring documentarian: “Doing a documentary is about discovering, being open, learning, and following curiosity.”

Stuff You Need to Know

Ken Burns - Mark Twain,” 2001

The six primary types of documentaries

In 2010's “Introduction to Documentary,” film educator and documentary consultant Bill Nichols distilled the types of documentaries down to six styles.
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