73 – Making Great Sound for Your Documentary with Jean Umansky

Making Great Sound for Your Documentary Film

Jean Umansky is one of the most respected sound persons in the field of filmmaking. He is a French sound engineer who has worked on over 50+ narrative and documentary films, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound on Amelie.  In our doc industry guest segment, Jean, guides us through some best practices for not only achieving optimal sound, but also for creating sound in a way that shapes the very story of your documentary film.

Among the many topics covered:

  • how sound can shape the story just as much as the visual
  • learning and using the language of sound with the director
  • importance of mic placement, shock mount, windscreen
  • tips for achieving great sound as a documentary filmmaker



Cambodia Chris, sound/editor on Bombhunters

5 Tips for Getting Good Sound on Your Doc

And as an opening volley to our episode on sound, I take us through 5 Tips for Getting Good Sound on Your Doc.  They are:

  • test your gear
  • bring your headphones
  • think about location
  • clothing rustle
  • consider using a wired lav



Related Resources


7 Ways to Hide Lav Video


Joris Ivens



In the episode, Jean, mentions a documentary filmmaking pioneer by the name of Joris Ivens.  I have since looked this man up.  You won’t believe this guy’s story!  You can read more by checking out his Wiki page.





Nenette Documentary Trailer




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.


Additional Resources

In #DocLand we have very comprehensive tutorials on seeking and applying for grants and running crowdfunding campaigns.

 #DocLand is 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

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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.

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