Documentary Filmmaking Production Checklist

Documentary Filmmaking Production Checklist
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Cameras are everywhere today! Digital, in phones, I-Pads, film (for the diehards) and just about in every part of daily life. The result is that more people are telling stories with these devices, but many don't know the order of activities that will help make the best story that is legally correct and has the best chance of reaching a distribution source other than YouTube.

It takes just as much effort to do a film or video that is not technically right for sale, as it does one that is right for sale. Sometimes the difference could be as simple as having releases or not, or editing it 7 minutes longer for programming and selling it for $30,000.00 to a distributor or keeping it at a length that can only be used for school fundraisers, and making $325.00 in admission fees on the screening night. Still took half a school year to produce it, either way. Think of what your school or department could do with the money!

This starter list of activities required to make a marketable or presentable film, helps students understand the order of elements to be covered as filmmakers, which are often elusive unless you've been to film school. However this Documentary Filmmaking Timeline for Production will help individual students with documentary assignments, or teachers putting together a large class video project, pull together their thoughts and follow a course of research and action in order to have not only a class project, but a possible broadcast quality project as well. This Timeline can be used as an overview about documentaries in a single class, or it can be used as a sectional research and action guide over an entire teaching unit.

Three primary things to remember when taking on such a project are:

1 - Use a "broadcast quality" camera and settings so that you are not limited to what I call, "making films for your mama" because the quality is too low to broadcast.

2 - Use the PBS Red Book guidelines in order to have the highest quality end product. You can find it here - http://www.pbs.org/producing/red-book/

3 - If you are producing an historical documentary, be sure to have at least three Ph.D level advisors on the project either on-screen or behind the scenes (more if you can get them for your subject area) because distributors look for credibility and knowledge in presenters and advisors.

Happy filmmaking! And keep it fun and lively.

I'm new to Teachers Paying Teachers, so please contact me with suggestions as to subject areas in screenwriting and independent filmmaking and products I can produce for you. I can pull together thoughts from being an independent filmmaker, documentarian and screenwriting instructor for 20 years, and support your efforts to teach your students.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!

Total Pages
1 page
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
50 minutes
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