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A documentary is a program on radio, TV, or other media that presents a record of facts, mainly to educate and persuade its viewers.  A good documentary gives you new learning, idea, or insight on a particular subject, whether political, historical, cultural, or any other topic. 

Documentaries are sometimes confused with movies. What is the difference? It lies in their purpose. While fictional films aim to entertain, documentaries target to inform.  It does not mean that documentaries are dull. The truth is that not only can it make you think, but it can also make you laugh or cry. 

Persuasion is another facet of a well-produced documentary. It can change your outlook on a specific subject. It can dig deep inside your consciousness, enough to shift your perspective and move you to take action.

What Are the Crucial Parts of a Documentary?

  • Purpose:  As mentioned, documentaries aim to inform and persuade. It tells a story, explores an idea, and reveals the truth in a significant subject matter.
  • Content:  Though some documentaries are based on fiction or speculation, they are usually well-researched to present complete and accurate information.  Their focus and topic are clear, and their point of view must be strong.
  • Narration:  Because a docu tells a story, it needs someone to do it.  A narrator does the job.  He can either appear on screen or be a voice to provide information.
  • Interview:  This type of film typically includes interviews with people involved in the subject matter. They can either be experts in the field or people with direct experience with the topic.
  • Footages:  Archived footage are also featured in the film to demonstrate and expound on its cause or subject matter. These clips are usually edited to fit in with the other parts of the presentation.
  • Graphics and Animation:  Computer-generated images (CGI) and animation are also embedded to clearly illustrate a detail or point-of-view.
  • Music:  Background music in a documentary sets the tone of the scene.  It is a powerful element to communicate the mood or theme of a given frame.

What Are the Elements of a Good Documentary?

A Strong Story

An excellent docu tells a vital story. This is necessary if you want your piece to bring the audience to laughter or tears.  It has to be something that your viewers care about. While they may be familiar with it, they should not know everything about it.

Finding the right tale is one of the biggest challenges and crucial tasks a documentary filmmaker must face.  Albeit honest and authentic, your story should ideally be rich in drama. It should be critical enough to touch your audience to their core.

Search for stories with new perspectives and unique themes. It can have been told already, but it is up to you to make it fresh.  Be on the lookout for potentially essential concepts. Most importantly, ensure that you choose the ones from which the world can learn.

Compelling Characters

If you pay attention to the most inspiring documentaries in the past, you will notice how they bring the voices of real people into the film.  These people are usually those who have been or are being silenced. By doing this, it opens up its viewers’ minds and hearts to the struggles of other people in the world.

Because their eyes have been opened to the stories they don’t usually hear, it makes them question how things are and how they should otherwise be. It makes them want to take action to improve the world.

Choosing the characters for your film can make or break your piece. It doesn’t have to be the people who may have the most information about your story. Pick the most believable, engaging, and charismatic ones on screen.

As a filmmaker, you need to bring out the depths of a character and the conflicts they’ve gone through.  Recognize the critical surfaces and make them interesting.  Try to reveal their humanity while keeping their realities on screen.

Interesting Visuals and Sounds

Music and sound effects serve as emotional amplifiers.  An excellent docu is usually crafted to engage your viewers visually and emotionally.  Create it into a film that they will yearn to watch, not a lecture to attend.  Other than being a great storyteller, it would help if you also perfected the craft of filmmaking.

Your excellent research deserves to be backed by brilliant cinematography. Understand the technicalities of filmmaking to be able to use elements that will create the drama and emotional aspects of the film. Include essential and relevant CGIs, animations, and music to intensify the weight of your story and, of course, your message.

Accurate Information

In well-produced documentaries, the story should not be told in a manipulative way. It should come from a place of passion and truth.  As the age-old adage says, the truth hurts.  But even so, your story’s truth should prevail. It must be told and heard.

Leave no stone unturned. Get to the bottom of things to share your journey of discovering the truth about your topic. Be committed and passionate in searching for the integrity of your subject matter. Then use your powerful voice to communicate it to your audience.

Preserve the subjective realities of your witnesses while including them as pieces to complete your documentary’s puzzle. Through honesty and a caring attitude, get to the heart of your subject and show it in a manner that will get the attention of your viewers.

A Clear Message

Filming a documentary does not mean manipulating viewers to sway onto your side. Instead, you reveal the truth and make it accessible to them in a compelling way. You are not only an excellent storyteller; you are also a critical thinker.

It would be best never to tell your audience what to think or feel. Allow them to form their own opinions. Let them fill in the blanks with their curiosity and imagination. Express your ideas in a straightforward, pure, and reliable manner. Always use a voice that is true to your vision. 

BA Productions Group, LLC offers professional videography and photography services for personal or business projects. We have over 25 years of extensive experience in the broadcast industry.

If you are interested in hiring a video production company for your documentary, choose BA Productions. Since 1992, we have been offering our services for our clients and have received multiple awards for our video production services.

Check out our portfolio here. You can give us a call at 877-378-7225. We are willing to work day or night 24/7 or whenever you need us.  Wait no more; call us now! We would love to help you with your videos.