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Old April 25th, 2002, 12:47 PM   #1
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documentary

When making a documentary what is the rule of thumb for how long it should be? I was thinking about how to fit one in on a 30 or 60 minute TV slot. What does it need to be edit down to?
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Old April 25th, 2002, 02:44 PM   #2
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Different networks/stations have different time requirements, and they are usually pretty strict about them. For example check out PBS's Redbook for their time formats:

http://www.pbs.org/insidepbs/redbook/2formatpackaging2002.htm

So, depending on where you plan to air your peice, you should get in touch with a representative of that studio/station/network for details.

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Old May 2nd, 2002, 04:58 PM   #3
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Casey's right. It does vary from outlet to outlet. As a VERY rough rule of thumb, however, assume that for a 30 minute show (on commercial TV) your actual content will be about 22 minutes, and for a 60 minute show, about 44 minutes will be dedicated to content. The major networks (both broadcast and cable) will have guidelines that you can request. These will be similar to PBS's Red Book that Casey mentioned. Good luck with your project and keep us all posted.

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Old June 25th, 2002, 05:55 PM   #4
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Preffered broadcasting documentary lengths and legal mumbo-jumbo

What are some of the more aceptable or popular documentary lengths for possible broadcat use?

I know that PBS standard is 58 minutes and some seconds, what about the rest of 'em?

P.S.

Speaking of broadcasting, do the interested buyers do actually ask to see releases from subjects featured in the documentary, or do they make me (producer/director) purchase some sort of insurance, thus protecting themselves in the event that someone featured in the doc decides to try to sue them, therefore leaving me (producer/director) vulnerable to the lawsuits, insted of them?

Can someone who knows this for sure be so kind to clarify this for me.

Thanks.
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Old June 28th, 2002, 04:47 AM   #5
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Yes, just under 1 hour. You can ask or even download the specifics from various sites, like from PBS, BBC etc.

They don't pay very much anymore. 20 years ago it was much better. There are a lot of great yet starving docu makers nowadays, unless you are fully employed by one of these non-profit stations.
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Old June 30th, 2002, 01:38 AM   #6
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Just what is...not much for 30/60 minutes?

Back in the old days.... was that when Uncle Sam paid more for PBS than my local community?

Any idea what kind of percentage of $ for a project comes from PBS vs the underwriters vs the "friends" of the project?
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Old June 30th, 2002, 02:20 AM   #7
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Many of the TOP docu makers are starving these days. TV has changed a lot over the years. No one wants to PAY for content anymore..., like they used to. I've read numerous articles during the last couple of years about this. Unless you're working for a station/network, or have a BIG name, and have something topical which networks want..., you're out of luck. Go read what's up at PBS, about the length and format, and all the other little requirements.

You'd be better off out and about "catching" news, and then selling it to your local station. Insurance companies/lawyers will PAY you for footage of accidents. Make a deal with a local funeral home to shoot funerals---no one wants to do this and there's money to be made.
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Old June 30th, 2002, 05:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for your good intention guys, but I wasn't asking that.

U completely digresed from my topic, and did not answer any of my questions!
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Old June 30th, 2002, 06:37 PM   #9
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You have to target the network and follow their guidelines. THEY ALL have different guidelines. Who are you targeting?? Knowing this, you can get ALL your information from them. I went through this research a couple of years ago. It ain't pretty.
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Old January 10th, 2007, 11:34 AM   #10
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Documentary runtime for festivals; also 24P or 30P?

We're about to start development on a documentary that we'd like enter for festivals and down the line also hope to sell to a distributor. Is our best bet to shoot for TV pickup, and make it about 45 minutes long, or nearer 80-90 minutes? Relating to this, should we shoot 24P or 30P?
Thanks
Greg
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