What is required to Direct a Documentary?
What does a documentary director really do?
Hire the right people? Get funding for the project? Keep the subject coming back?
Well, most likely yes to all of these. But a strong producer can keep the money rolling, as well as communicate with the subjects. A strong editor can help with your post team. Once you have your shooter in place....what is it that's happening with the director?
It is about the VISION. Sure, there's that beginning spark, but as the story unfolds, as the decisions need to be made:
"Who are we going back to shoot, and what are we getting?",
"What archival material do we need and why?" ,
"What should the animations look like and why?"
"What is the cutting style and why?"
The director needs to provide a clear vision of what they want and why. This enables the team the ability to make decisions on the fly/in the field as it were.
Sometimes the vision comes from an aesthetic the director is already carrying - other times, the "vision" is of the more educational variety. What I mean by that, it is discussed and collaborated upon, then ideally CLEARLY communicated.
Then there is the Story. I've seen many times where directors either hire writers or rely heavily on their Editors to write the story. But I dare say, the strongest directors do their story work - either on their own, or with a story consultant, or actually collaborate with their editor.
What does it take to get to know your story?
We are always looking for the transformation - and what is a transformation - but a failure - transmuted into something more solid more satisfying - more real. So if we have a character who is going to transform - we need to show them doing what ever they are doing at the beginning for all the wrong reasons. We need to see their flaws. Ideally, the very flaws that will be resolved by their spectacular failure - so that they come out of their situation a better person.
Start the discussion - email me at email@example.com
I'll be starting workshops in September in the daytime and the evening.