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I’m working on my first “feature length” doc right now, but from my previous short documentaries, I’ve always written a preliminary script of where I wanted it to go. Then I got interviews. Then I re-wrote the script to fit what the interviewees actually said. Then I shoot the rest of the video, wrap it all up, and make it happen.
I would always get the interviews first. On my current documentary project, I’m doing the story behind the guy who invented magnetic poetry (you know, those little words people have on their fridge you rearrange to spell potentially embarrassing phrases). When I interviewed the creator, he told me a story that I hadn’t even expected to hear, but it played perfectly into the doc. So I rewrote to include that, and got extra footage. If I had wrapped all my B roll material first, I’d either need to schedule a new shoot, or I would have needed to to drop the really neat story.