Creating a documentary film can be a challenge but is also incredibly rewarding. If you have a great story idea for a documentary but you are not sure how to proceed, take a look at the following tips, ideal for aspiring documentary directors looking to put together their first project.
1. Find a Supportive Community:
As a first time film maker you may not be able to access talent with years of experience in the industry. Instead, seek out people in the same position as you with passion and ideas, but not necessarily experience. You can work together to create outcomes which will be mutually beneficial, even if you do not at first make much money. It is also helpful to put together a wider support network. Go to documentary film festivals and network, take classes and make friends with the people there, and ask more experienced directors for advice when you can – via social media, at forums, or events.
2. Understand it will be a Challenge… But Enjoy It:
Yes, it is true that creating your first film will always be challenging. You have the challenge of finding the money to put it together, the challenge of creating the right story and the right situation for the film, and all the challenges associated with working with actors and technical people. Understand that it is acceptable to make mistakes; it is fine to not know exactly what you are doing. Approach your first film experience with an open mind, a healthy dose of positivity, and lots of energy. Enjoy the actual process of creating the film because you are going to be working with it for a long time.
3. Take Feedback but Have Your Own Vision:
It is hard to stay true to your own ideas and ideals if you are constantly seeking feedback and approval from other people. Be clear in your own vision. However, it is useful to get feedback on the project, so learn what to listen to and what to reject. At the end of the day, the documentary is your project, so if you don’t agree with feedback or advice, don’t listen to it.
4. Get a Mentor:
It is a great idea to find someone who has more experience than you in the field so that you can bounce ideas off them. A mentor can encourage you when you feel like giving up, and will also be able to give specific advice on practicalities like insurance and the benefits, for example, of transcription services for getting all your notes and interviews ordered and in one place.
5. Get Organised:
As previously mentioned, transcribing the information from interviews and research is a good idea because then you get all you need in the same place, and you don’t lose any crucial ideas or pieces of data – transcription services help. Once you are organised the creative juices can flow more freely.
6. Don’t Give in to Self Doubt:
There will always be times when you believe that your project is dreadful and meant to fail. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and believe in yourself. Even the most experienced directors feel this way about every film they make. Just move on with it, don’t wait and let chances pass.