Bruce Weber Marks Certain Elements Important to a Good Documentary


Documentary film makers are no less than dramatic writers when it comes to telling powerful stories. However, unlike dramatists, feature films cannot invent action points and characters. They need to find it in the raw material of real life. Hence, the manner and approach of storytelling become extremely important in documentary film making. It can be a pretty exciting field for any person who has the natural inclination for storytelling and creativity. Even fashion photographers like Bruce Weber had ventured into the domain of documentary film making.  His documentary on jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, ‘Let’s Get Lost ‘(1989), was, in fact, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.

Making a documentary is quite a systematic process that involves a good amount of preparation and planning. For a lot of filmmakers, making a documentary is a true labor of love and requires a good amount of hard work and dedication. Putting focus on the following elements can be helpful in enabling people to gain more success as a documentary filmmaker:

  • Interesting subject matter: The starting point of any documentary movie is the topic. One needs to select a topic they are actually interested in. It is also important to select a topic that is relevant and appeals to the audience that the filmmaker wants to attract.
  • Interviews: All good documentary movies usually include interviews with people who are in the position of providing information relevant to the subject. Depending on the subject to be covered in the film, one would want to interview people who have expertise in the subject manner or have experienced it first-hand.
  • Filmmaking equipment: Proper equipment is crucial to creating a high-quality documentary. One needs to acquire proper microphones, editing equipment, video cameras and more, before getting started with the filmmaking process.
  • Live location footage: Apart from showing interview footage in the documentary, it will be smart to include some live action footage that is relevant to the topic, in order to increase the impact of the film.
  • Still shots: Documentaries commonly include shots of relevant places and people. This footage can be helpful in painting a better picture of the events being covered. Good still shots can also be used as an effective transition material between live action footage and interviews.
  • Music: Soundtrack is an important part of any movie, including documentaries. They help in setting the perfect tone for the film. Selecting the right music and ensuring that it has been edited appropriately is important to documentary filmmaking.

Only after a person has assembled all the elements of a good documentary, would they be in the position to pull them together for the purpose of creating a unified film that effectively reflects the events one wants to showcase. Going through the works of Bruce Weber and other Academy nominated documentary filmmakers can go a long way in helping people to hone their own filmmaking capabilities.

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