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Documentary Techniques
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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #1
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Wild life documentaries

Hi everyone,

I've an idea for a wildlife documentary, I've never worked within this sector apart from once. Can anyone tell me if you write a script/or a script outline or plot?

Do documentarys work within the 3 act structure? Can anyone explain to me how you'd typically plot any documentary?

Thanks
Andrew
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Old December 11th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #2
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This is so subjective! You can film it so there is or isnít narration! Some filmmakers think a wildlife documentary should have narration only with no music while others all music with no narration. Others are more in the middle. Some have a presenter on-screen while others with just a voice over.

Yes it must have a story or no-one will want to watch it as itíll be boring! You need to hook the audience straight away and keep them hooked throughout. You must conclude it or the viewer will be upset.

Check out the hundreds of wildlife documentaries on Discovery, Sky, the BBC and donít forget DVDs. Itís a great way to see what works, what doesnít, how itís shot and edited together to make it and keep it interesting.

A storyboard is a great way to get started!

Shoot to a script or storyboard really helps the production side of things flow! You may have to wait for the wildlife to play ball though!
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Old December 16th, 2009, 02:10 PM   #3
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Yes, ive been watching as many programmes as i can lay my hands on.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I'm glad some one did.
Merry xmas or happy holidays to you.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 04:36 PM   #4
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Hi Andrew
You could try this organisation. I've been on two of their courses. They were good:
Wildeye - International School of Wildlife Film-making
There probably aren't many wildlife film makers reading the Documentary Techniques section.
Don't take it personally that you didn't get lots of replies to your question. The answer probably wasn't apparent to most of the people who read your post.
BTW I'm not a wildlife film maker either.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 10:28 AM   #5
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Fernando Rossi is one of my favorite writers on the topic of documentary, story structure and other issues. Check out her column at The Independent here:

Ask the Doc Doctor | The Independent
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 02:49 PM   #6
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Thanks Richard, Brian

I will check them out.

kind regards
Andrew
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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Just happened onto your post. Without knowing the subject of your documentary, I think it's safe to suggest that you keep your story line "loose". When shooting wildlife you certainly will get some (unexpected) killer footage that you want to include just for its beauty or uniqueness. It's good to be able to adjust your story line to fit. If you haven't already, look at the UWOL forum (it's near the top of the list). You will find a lot of top-notch short documentaries there.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 09:11 AM   #8
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Depends on what your subject is.
I just start with an idea and start shooting and the story begins to quickly unfold. Nature inspires me, so when I'm working in/with it the project just starts to fall into place. Kinda like I'm doing an interview. I guess it's just a different kind of listening.
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