Episode 112

Published on:

22nd Aug 2019

Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking with Rustin Thompson

Ever noticed just how many barriers there seem to be to this documentary filmmaking thing?  Funding. Equipment. Live pitch presentations. Distribution platforms. You name it, everywhere you turn as a doc filmmaker, there seems to be something keeping you from actually doing the thing that matters most to you. But what if there was a way doc filmmakers could simplify things – strip away the unnecessary fat – and get to what really matters? Making documentary films. And then making more of them.

Well, long time national television news veteran, Rustin Thompson figured out a very viable way to do just that when he came up with what he calls Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking. In the process, he left the tv news industry behind and followed his passions to the land of documentary. And he has been making the kinds of documentary films he’s always wanted to make ever since. And now he’s going to tell you how you can do the same.


Topics Discussed

  • why and how Rustin Thompson left his lucrative, exciting television news career behind for a self-made career in documentary filmmaking
  • how a Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking approach can lead to a liberating way to make your docs and more of them
  • the importance of understanding the essential technical aspects, but also how to inform your documentary on an emotional level as well
  • Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking sound tips
  • Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking editing tips


Additional Resources



After listening to our discussion, you might want to read Rustin’s book. I don’t blame you. After reading it myself, seeing some of Rustin’s films, and of course, having had a great conversation with Rustin, we have put this book right into our Essential Doc Filmmaking Reading List!

You can find it on Amazon or local bookstore or request it from your local library!


Trailer for Rustin Thompson’s latest documentary, My Mother Was Here




If you’re interested in checking out some of Rustin’s many documentary films, please visit his website!


Sponsors & Thank Yous

Thank you to music licensing platform, Music Vine for their fresh and diverse music and for contributing the wonderful music that we’ve used in this week’s episode.

If you need any music for your doc project, we can honestly recommend Music Vine.

Want 20% off of your first music licensing purchase?  No licensing restrictions or number of tracks! Simply use promo code MYDOCLIFE at checkout!



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About the Podcast

The Documentary Life
Documentary filmmaker & host, Chris G. Parkhurst, inspires & informs you on how to best live and lead your own doc life.
Have a passion for making documentary films? Want to learn how to best lead a documentary life? Join award-winning commercial and documentary filmmaker, Chris G. Parkhurst, and special industry guests as they candidly share their filmmaking stories, insights, and experiences, for all to learn how to best lead and live their own documentary dream lives.

About your host

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Christopher Parkhurst