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.”
How to Ask Great Documentary Interview Questions
How do you string all that unscripted material together, actuality, interviews and visuals, to craft a story that brings insight and understanding — a story that takes the audience on a journey?  My mentor’s advice was to start with the interviews. He would print out the interview transcripts and highlight...
When the Story Changes
The documentary storytelling process falls broadly into two very different ways of going about it.
Image of homeless man
Before getting into how best to harness objectivity to serve your documentary story, a quick historical review of this most-coveted of journalistic ideals might be useful. Journalism historians tell us that the arrival of objectivity in the press coincided with the decline of corrupt party politics and the rise of...
Finding Life with Real-time Adventure Filmmaker Elia Saikaly
Adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly is inside his tent typing his blog into a Macbook Pro. Outside, violent icy winds tear at the yellow fabric of his flimsy mountainside shelter. He’s reporting from Camp 4, which sits on a plateau that looks like the surface of the moon. At 24,000...
Without access, a documentary can’t be made. As filmmakers, however, we shouldn’t take access to people, places and events for granted.
lineup of silver and black cubes
We are pleased to announce that the randomly selected winner of our Lume Cube Sweepstakes is Tim Lenz of Sarasota, Fla. He’s going to get some of the first Lume Cubes ever shipped. He may use these little lights in commercials, and we hope you’ll check out his work.Tim...
Writer and filmmaker Sheila Curran’s explanation is bang on: Without a story you don’t have a doc. In fiction films and movies, the story is tightly scripted; the characters’ ups and downs, the climax and the ending are neatly worked out before shooting begins. Although real-life drama can offer plenty of...
Scenes from Joe Carnahan’s gritty 2002 good-cop-bad-cop thriller “Narc"
The camera captures it all with a documentary rawness, but from a distance, on a long lens and according to the director’s commentary, from inside a van.This is an unusual approach for a scripted film because we usually associate candid shooting with non-fiction storytelling such as documentaries and video...