Intro to Documentaries Preview

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Sometimes the best stories are rooted in reality – whether it be the pursuit of truth, to prove a point or to share a wonder or tragedy.  The documentary camera turns the lens onto ourselves and seeks to share with an audience stories so marvelous they could be mistaken as fiction.
In this module, you are going to learn about documentary storytelling, the types of documentaries, the challenges of the medium, how to manage B-Roll, use recreations to enhance the story, find the balance between story and production value, create compelling interviews, and discover the cinematic tools available to the documentarian.
Learn the techniques to discover the truth, present it, and ultimately move the hearts and minds of those willing to watch and listen.


  • 24:51 video in which you'll explore the documentary medium
  • Illustrated companion guide


  • Learn the difference between documentary and fiction formats
  • How to produce documentaries of existing subjects or events
  • How to shoot observational cinema
  • How to use interviews as a storytelling tool
  • The power and flexibility of using b-roll
  • When and how to use recreations
  • How to use archival materials
  • How to balance the story with production values
  • The power of showing and not telling
"Very straightforward and easy to follow. I also really appreciate the combination of technical and aesthetics, which is how I base my class. I would find this to be a very good reference to provide to students."
   - William Donaruma,
      University of Notre Dame