67 – Making the Personal Documentary with Michael Wiese

Making the Personal Documentary

Often times as doc filmmakers, we will choose subjects that are near and dear to our hearts.  And usually we will have quite personal connections to these subjects.  So it’s only natural when we choose to make what is known as the personal documentary.  While some of the more powerful stories in documentary can be of a very personal nature, there are things that any doc filmmaker must consider before embarking on the personal documentary journey. We discuss 5 Tips for Making the Personal Documentary, which include:

  • Have way to film yourself
  • Decide how personal you’re willing to be
  • Choose a topic you’re passionate about
  • Can you be comfortable in front of the camera?
  • Don’t over-explain


Documentary Filmaker, Publisher, Michael Wiese

In our guest conversation we are joined by someone who is well-acquainted with making personal documentaries, or as he refers to them, as spiritual documentaries.  Michael Wiese has been making documentary films for 40+ years and is also the founder/owner of the world’s biggest publisher of filmmaking books, Michael Wiese Productions.  He joins us to discuss the inspiring ways in which he has been living his #doclife, his memoir Onward & Updward: Reflections of a Joyful Life, how Parkinson’s has positively affected his approach to filmmaking and living his #doclife, and his own experiences as a filmmaker learning about the world and his connection to it, through his films and books.  This is a conversation that will resonate deeply with any doc filmmaker who has made the craft of filmmaking & storytelling a deep priority in their life.


Related Resources


Trailer for The Shaman & Ayahuascua:



Teaser for Michael’s memoir, Onward & Upward: Reflections of a Joyful Life:

You can purchase here



Our Film

If you are interested in watching TDL host, Chris G. Parkhurst’s personal documentary, you can check out Journey to Kathmandua film that follows the once-in-a-lifetime journey that goats make from their farmland lives of goats in Tibet to their sacrificial deaths in Kathmandu, during the Nepalese holiday, Dashain.

Purchase of the Deluxe Director’s & Goat’s Edition comes loaded with behind-the-scenes footage, director’s commentary, shorts, and deleted scenes. Regardless if you’re simply looking for more info on the making of J2K’or you’re a budding independent filmmaker (or just a fan of goats!), this is a must-have for anyone who enjoys gaining insight into what goes into the making of an independent documentary in a developing country.


Top Resources


Learn how to plan, fund and share your documentary film




#DocLand The Documentary Life‘s very own flagship filmmaking community which offers you step-by-step tutorials, industry expert webinars, private Facebook group, industry-standard templates and extensive resources, to assist you in the planning, funding and sharing of your documentary film.

Visit #Docland to learn more.


Rate & Review

Please take a moment to help TDL move up the iTunes podcast charts, so it can become more visible to others.  Simply click the link and then click on the Ratings and Reviews tab to make your entry.  Thank you for your support!


Sponsors & Thank You’s

Free Music ArchiveSpecial Thank You to recording artist, Dlay who supplied music for this week’s episode of TDL. You too can download his music or other artist’s music by going to Free Music Archive today!



Host and TDL Founder, Chris G Parkhurst

Chris is a documentary filmmaker and the founder and host of The Documentary Life, a platform which aims to inform and inspire documentary filmmakers from around the globe.

Leave a Comment