How to Write and Produce a Documentary

How to Write & Produce a Documentary

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Are you ready to learn how to make a documentary? If you want to know how to write and produce a documentary, here is a step-by-step list for producing a documentary.

Passion – Go to a place or do something that excites you.

Research – Find out everything about your documentary subject. Gather all the resources and information that aren’t visible or known to many people.

Make a Plan – Think of our documentary thoroughly. Consider different things such as the people you will need, the plot, your objectives and the resources you have.

Create an outline to find out if you are missing something. Start filming – This is where you start collecting interviews and footage for your documentary.

Script – Write a script for your documentary by organizing everything you have gathered.

Video by Indy Mogul

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This week on indie news, how
to produce a documentary with an update
on my sriracha film YouTube celebrates a
birthday David Cross pays us a visit and
Legos recreate James Bond heydo burglars
Griffin here next week I’ll be in Los
Angeles shooting several key elements of
my documentary about sriracha the
delicious hot sauce and many of you
wanted to know what goes into producing
a documentary so let’s talk about that
but first I want to thank the over 1,000
people who’ve liked the film on Facebook
it’s great knowing that there’s an
audience for the film while I’m shooting
it so grab a pen here is a step by step
list for producing a documentary go to a
film festival realize hey I should make
the film listen when successful
filmmakers say you should make the film
that you want to see drive home thinking
about how much you love short
documentaries what are you passionate
about realize it’s right in front of you
on every meal you eat make a website
Facebook page Twitter Pinterest business
cards to get people hyped but also so
everyone knows that you’ve laid claim to
this film and then write it but what
does that even mean how do you write a
documentary for me it started with a lot
of questions like is this topic even
doable who are the key players here and
then I realized there was one guy I
really needed to talk to Randy Clements
author of the sriracha cookbook he’s
really active online and has become an
expert on sriracha I figured he could
answer a lot of my questions so I sent
him a few messages we had a phone call
and I learned several important things
one he’s super excited about being in
the documentary that’s helpful too he’s
not aware of anyone else who’s already
making a documentary about sriracha
that’s good and 3 he already has contact
information for a lot of the people that
I need in the film so that’s really
helpful my goal is to share with
audiences the origin of
this hot sauce and that really starts
with facts and research several articles
have been written in the last few months
that provide a glimpse into David Tran
the man who founded – foods this is the
Los Angeles company that produces this
popular brand of sriracha so I’ve been
collecting facts from these articles
organizing them and creating a contact
list of people who should be in the
movie a big part of filmmaking is just
getting access I’ve been sending a lot
of emails some people I just been trying
to get information from other people I’d
love to get for an on-camera interview
and of course not everyone wants to be
on camera so it takes some convincing
I’ll usually just explain how I
genuinely love sriracha and that’s why
I’m making this movie I’m not making
because I’m trying to make money or
exploit anyone I just want to make a
good story and share it with film
festival audiences so after contacting
Huy Fong foods also the farm where they
grow these red jalapenos I’ve talked to
chefs and other interesting characters
now I have kind of a shooting schedule
for when I go out to LA I’m trying to
shoot most of this movie in just one
trip which means that I need to plan
even though this is a documentary I
really have to script it in advance
there’s a lot of different stories that
I want to cover and at first I thought
there is no way I could fit all of this
into a 24 minute short film but then I
thought about feature news stories on TV
how you can tell a comprehensive story
in about three minutes with lots of
facts so then I realized I have eight of
these eight three-minute stories I can
tell in 24 minutes so I’ve kind of
broken down my script into a series of
stories or themes that I’m trying to
share and even though it’s a documentary
it’s nonfiction it’s still a story so I
can map out all of the dramatic elements
I have a protagonist David Tran who came
to this country with the desire to
produce fresh spicy delicious sauce so
he embarked on a challenging journey
hitting the streets of Chinatown trying
to find a market for his Prada
and what he found is that surprisingly
the market for his product is a lot
broader than just the Asian community so
I can shape my script around that
narrative model and in a documentary the
filmmaker and audience also have a
desire to discover the truth
so they embark on a journey which can be
challenging so there’s multiple ways to
build a documentary around the dramatic
model obviously when I interview people
I’ll learn new things that were not in
my script but should be so it’s a
recursive process I’ll write a script
and then shoot something and then
rewrite the script but that initial
script gives me a checklist of
everything I need to go capture it also
lets me know what kinds of questions I
need to ask to get the answers that line
up with the plot of the film a
documentary is made up of interviews
which tell the story
lots of b-roll you need interesting
visuals that can cover up the talking
heads and also what are called NAT sound
breaks simply an event unfolding on
camera so those are the three kind of
elements that I need to make sure I’m
capturing when I’m in LA so let me know
in the comments what other questions you
have about this production
I’ll answer several of the obvious ones
I’ve already shot some of this
documentary locally in Illinois but of
course most of the story is in
California when I’m out there I’m going
to be joined with my friend Nick he and
I are going to be the crew for this film
we’re shooting it on my Panasonic gh3
and I’m hoping to have this done by
September that’s around the deadline for
a lot of film festivals for next year so
I need to get it done this summer if I
want to get it shown in next year’s
festivals also if you want to help me
out there’s some things that I need in
this film and maybe you know about if
you know any stories people have good
sriracha stories let me know I have an
email right here
sriracha film at you can let
me know also let me know if you have any
sriracha music you’re aware of or art
that you or other people you know have
created I want to put those things in
the film all
so I plan on doing several visual
effects interesting artistic visuals for
the film you know I can imagine maybe
doing some stop-motion of this bottle
maybe some visual effects to like turn
this into a rocket or something you know
spinning through the air I’ll probably
spray some sriracha onto a piece of
glass with a green screen underneath it
I can imagine using those as title
elements or transitions all sorts of
cool things I could do visually with
sriracha but those are just my ideas if
you have anything that you want to do I
would love to feature other talented
people’s contributions in the film so if
you can come up with any cool filmmaking
thing to do with a bottle of sriracha go
for it and if it’s great I will put it
in the movie before I go I want to give
a shout out to YouTube which just
celebrated its eighth birthday on Sunday
that means this fall it’s going to go
into the third grade there’s a new
sheriff in town David Cross sneaking
into my video actually it’s Tobias fume
K from Arrested Development new episodes
are coming to Netflix this Sunday which
explains dr. fume K’s new acting reel
which is first on today’s playlist he
also encourages you to download the
original green screen footage from
insert me anywhere dot biz today more
than a hundred hours of video are
uploaded every minute to YouTube and
this last week there’s a few minutes of
YouTube that I particularly enjoyed it’s
a recreation shot by shot of the opening
scene of Casino Royale the James Bond
movie but it’s done entirely with Lego
stop-motion so you got to check that out
I also have this week’s new and notable
video contests thanks for watching and
be sure to join me next Monday when even
though I’ll be in LA I’m going to show
you how to build a portable DIY
recording booth for absorbing echo and
capturing clean professional sounding
vocal tracks a bit more clean and
professional than that