So you want to make this the year you finally start, complete or get your film out into the world.
Well then, let’s get to it..
Step #1. Ask yourself if you REALLY want to make a doc film
This may seem like a strange opener, but it’s a legitimate question. Do you really want to spend the time, use the energy and give the necessary resources to making a documentary film?
Stop and think about this for a second. Are there other things you’d rather be spending that time and energy on?
Documentary filmmaking requires passion, drive, and often times sacrifice, in order to make projects a reality. It is a commitment to yourself and to your subjects. Not everyone has that determination and resolve, do you?
Step #2. Ask yourself what the next stage for your project is… and the one after that
Perhaps you’re just at the ideas stage or perhaps you’ve finished your project and are ready to get it out into the world?
Wherever you are on the spectrum, the reality is that the more you look at your documentary film from an overall perspective, and not just at your current stage, the more chance of success it will have. (Success, in this case, being defined as a well-rounded complete project meeting an audience).
Each aspect of pre-production, production and post-production bleeds in to the other. Start with a strong foundation and build upon that. That way it’s much more likely that each stage you enter will run much more smoothly and efficiently and obtain the desired result.
Step #3. Ask yourself how you’ll fund your project
Funding. It’s one of the most sought-after commodities in a documentary filmmaker’s life, and understandably so.
The level of funding you achieve for your film can impact many aspects of your project, including, it’s visual aesthetic, the level of support and expertise administered via crew and equipment, where you can film and for how long, how much editing time you’ll have and what post correction opportunities will be available to you, how long it will take you to complete your project overall and many more.
No matter what stage your film is at, how you will fund your project will be, and most certainly should be, somewhere in your mind. Do you have a plan for how you’ll apply for grants, seek donations and/or crowd fund for your project?
Step #4. Ask yourself where you will go if you’re looking for advice
Documentary filmmaking can be a lonely place. Often times we doc filmmakers are working solo, hiring help if and when we can, primarily for shooting engagements and interviews and then in post-production.
So when you’re feeling stuck, confused and unsure of what the next step should be, where can you go to gather some guidance from fellow documentary filmmakers? There may be a few options open to you.
If you are fortunate you may live in or near a town/city where you can find a local meet up group or documentary filmmaking association. Those groups can be very valuable and we recommend you connect with them.
Alternatively, if you do not have access to ‘real-life’ support (and even if you do) you can look online to connect with other doc filmmakers on social media platforms and forums.
Having support from your peers is invaluable and can help your project in untold ways. Have you found a place for guidance and support from like-minded documentary filmmakers?
Step #5. Ask yourself how you’ll connect with your audience
An audience is not just something that is built once your film is ready to screen. An audience is built from when your project begins its life. Once you are confident of the story you are attempting to capture and share, it is time to start connecting with your future audience.
Whether that be via social media, your film website, an email list, crowd funding campaign or talking to your community, there are people out there who want to know the progress of your project and will want to help support it.
There may be people you’ll connect with that can provide you with resources, footage or people of interest for you to talk to, and building your audience early gives you another driver and motivation to see your film through to fruition, especially if you have set backs. What platforms will you choose and how will you encourage your audience to engage with you?
Good luck and may this year be your best documentary filmmaking year yet!
If you need help answering these questions or you’re looking to learn how to plan, fund or share your documentary film, then The Documentary Academy is the resource for you.
The Documentary Academy is a platform dedicated to helping you reach your filmmaking goals with step-by-step video tutorials, tools and resources, industry expert webinars, a private community group and much, much more.
Check it out today and start making the best documentary film of your life!