How to Make a Documentary: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make a Documentary: A Step-by-Step Guide

Documentaries have been around for over a hundred years, almost as old as film itself. There’s something about witnessing real events and hearing people talk about them that’s incredibly captivating.

If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, perhaps documentaries are your passion. But how do you make documentaries? What goes into producing a documentary feature?

That’s what we’re here to look at today. Read on to find out more about how to make a documentary.

So What Is a Documentary?

Documentaries aren’t just films that show a series of clips of people talking or random newsreels. They’re non-fiction videos or films that inform an audience about a topic, issue, or event.

You’re probably used to seeing documentaries that are persuasive, incredibly informative, and have a point to them. The main goal is to tell a side of a story that you think viewers should know about.

Accomplishing that requires following a key set of steps. Let’s take a look at those steps here:

Find a Story or Topic

As with any film, book, or show, you need a story. You might already have one in mind since you’re reading this article.

The key here is finding something that captivates you and something that you think will capture an audience. In this story or topic, try to find a point or a perspective that you think needs to be told.

After that, it’s all about doing the research and talking to potential interview subjects.

Select Camera and Other Filming Equipment

You can’t make a film without a camera, and you can’t record people’s perspectives without microphones and other equipment. Sourcing these gadgets might be expensive, but they’re a necessary expense.

You can get away with being low-budget, but make sure you have something that can act as a tripod. Don’t be afraid to spend a little here if you want to look professional.

Plan Production and Write Script

Something that doesn’t take money is pre-production. Plan everything as thoroughly as humanly possible.

Where do you need to film? Who do you need to talk to? In what order will you shoot your scenes?

Write a script to guide the narrative of your documentary as well. When you think of how to create a documentary, you might not think of scripts at first but it’s just as important as any fictional story.

Budget + Other Details

Regardless of whether you’re doing this all on your own, you need to set a budget to keep everything on track. Shooting a film costs money and you don’t want to run out at the worst possible time.

Make sure you get the right permits to film in certain locations as well. Copyright laws are also strict, so don’t forget to clear those away before using any footage that’s not yours.

Schedule and Shoot

Now comes the fun part. Follow your shoot schedule and pre-production plans and go get those shots.

Schedule where you’re going and who you’re talking to for every day of the shoot. If it goes over schedule or you need to take some time to make more money, no sweat.

Edit and Share

Once you’ve got all the footage, editing everything together into a cohesive whole is one of the last steps. Editing is something that takes a lot of skill, but going slow with it will help you create a great product.

Make sure you make your documentary accessible for all, including the deaf or partially blind. You can use this recorded content service if you’re unsure how to do so.

Learn How to Make a Documentary Today

Every great documentarian in the industry got started by picking up a camera and telling the story they thought needed to be told. Use this article to learn how to make a documentary and have your voice be heard today!

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Marisa Lascala

Marisa Lascala is a admin of She is a blogger, writer, managing director, and SEO executive. She loves to express her ideas and thoughts through her writings. She loves to get engaged with the readers who are seeking informative content on various niches over the internet.