- Class Introduction
Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur, a husband and wife filmmaking team, offer an overview of this class on how to make a short documentary.
- How Did We Start Making Documentaries?
Ed and Julie describe their backgrounds, explain what has led up to their careers as documentary filmmakers and talk about how to start making documentaries.
- Universal Themes Through First-Person Storytelling
See some of Julie and Ed’s early work and listen to them discuss the importance of first-person storytelling, the integration of stills and video, and publication across media platforms.
- Use Visual Language to Tackle a Theme
Julie and Ed show a more recent project to talk about how to structure a documentary and the infinite options for tackling a theme.
- Issue Driven & Non-English Story Development
Ed shares his documentary about young Syrian refugees and discusses documentary story development. He talks about what it’s like to create an extremely personal project that is both emotional and newsworthy.
- Translate a Theme Into a Film **Warning: This lesson contains scenes of graphic violence**
Learn about the differences between themes and stories, how to translate your concept into an actual film, and what goes into the documentary storytelling process. **Warning: This lesson contains scenes of graphic violence**
- Turn Failures Into Lessons
Look at an example of an idea that didn’t pan out and learn about the mistakes documentary filmmakers make.
- Finding Your Subjects
Your subjects are your collaborators. They’re with you throughout your journey of making a documentary, so it’s important to learn how to find a documentary subject.
- What is Your Motivation?
Discover what your motivation is for telling a particular story and learn about finding a documentary theme.
- Follow Your Passion & Invest in Yourself
Sometimes you need to invest your own time, money, and energy to do a project. Julie and Ed talk about getting started in documentary filmmaking.
- Client Work Vs Legacy Work
Learn how to bring your documentary filmmaking skills to short videos for clients.
- Translate the Idea to Reality
The first thing to do once you have an idea is to do a lot of research. Learn about researching a documentary so you can understand the issue inside and out.
- Create Multiple Products from One Idea
Sometimes you can create smaller pieces that focus on a particular story from larger projects. Here you’ll learn more about documentary storytelling techniques.
- Pre-Production Plan
Before you start shooting, get on the phone with your subject to talk about logistics, background information, and other essential aspects of the documentary production process.
- You Just Have to Dive In
At a certain point, you need to just dive in and get to the work—there’s really nothing to lose. Here you’ll go over the steps to documentary filmmaking.
- Time & Cost for Projects
The harsh reality of trying to get films made is the difficulty of raising money to get the job done. Ed and Julie help answer the question of how much do documentaries cost—from person hours to equipment to travel.
- Writing a Strong Pitch
Learn how to pitch a documentary idea so you can clarify your vision, get others excited about your project, and propel your idea forward.
- Develop a Fundraising Trailer
Creating a documentary pitch video will help you showcase your idea and raise money for your project.
- Identify & Approach Partners
Learn about finding documentary partners who might be interested in working with you or supporting your idea and how to approach them.
- Define Your Desired Impact
Finding a topic for a documentary means you’ll have to think about what you want to accomplish with your work, whether it be a personal goal or something more far reaching.
- Introduction to Working in the Field
Get an introduction about working in the field and location scouting for film.
- Shoot: Interview Set Up
Learn about documentary interview setup, including doing a pre-interview, coming with the necessary equipment, and knowing where you’ll be placing your cameras.
- Shoot: The Interview
Here are some interviewing tips for documentary filmmaking, including how to prepare your subject, figure out your questions, and allow your subject’s voice to truly come out.
- Different Types of Interviews
There are many different documentary interview styles. Some have a formal set-up with artificial light, some are more casual with natural light, and some are done on the go.
- Shoot: Capturing B-Roll
B-roll is everything you shoot outside of the interview and is used to establish a sense of place, put your character in context, and tell more of your story through visuals. Here are some things to consider with b-roll.
- Shoot: Detail Shots
Detail shots allow you to focus on something small and particular that helps to illuminate your story. Here’s how to create a filmmaking shot list.
- Shoot: Capturing a Scene
A scene is an opportunity to watch your subject interact with someone else, offering further information about their life and character. Learn some key documentary film shooting tips.
- Shoot: A Set Up Shot
Creating a great set-up shot involves thinking about the lighting, the background audio, and the camera angle. Here you’ll learn about some filmmaking shots and angles.
- What Video to Keep in The Edit?
The film post-production process workflow is an intensive process of figuring out what to keep, what to toss, and what to polish for your final product.
- Identify Strongest Audio as Starting Point for Edit
Learn about audio post-production techniques, including starting with your strongest piece of audio so you can begin with something powerful and compelling.
- Use Audio to Guide Narrative
Ed and Julie discuss the importance of sound in documentary. Listen for the narrative spine, the unfolding of information, and the integration of multiple voices.
- Transform Raw Content Into Finished Piece
The quality of your final cut depends on your visuals, music and ambient sound, and the editing rhythm. Here you’ll learn about documentary post-production editing steps.
- Building Scenes in Your Edit
One way of creating a short documentary is to focus on building your scenes and try to create some drama within them. Find out about some key drama film editing techniques.
- Short Doc Created from Pre Shoot: Resonant
Watch the final cut of “Resonant,” the documentary that Julie and Ed created for this course, and learn about finishing a documentary film.
- Final Thoughts
Ed and Julie talk about why they work on documentaries and provide some filmmaker inspiration.