Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Art of Creating a Fair Documentary

The making of a documentary is an exhilarating, enlightening experience. Digging deep into the truths of society and laying them out for the world to see can be intimidating; however, it has been done in controversial manners time and time again, so don't be afraid to jump right in and start exploring. Documentaries take a look at societal truths, lies, controversies, or hidden existences and share those findings with viewers. When it comes time to start making a documentary, it's important to know where to begin and what you'll need to consider.


Fairness in the Facts

Creating a documentary is about taking a topic you find to be important and shining a spotlight on it through the use of factual, physical evidence, emotional accounts of those affected by your topic and innovative writing. Entertainment lawyer John Branca notes that fairness is a key element in making a documentary; without fairness in your facts, all you have is an interesting movie that people will potentially use for or against the subject matter in a way that was not originally intended. Documentaries are created to make viewers feel something and potentially be motivated to do something by the time the credits roll. They are intended to bring about some form of justice or action from those viewers, so ensuring that your facts are fair, just and accurate is crucial.




Perspective Without Persuasion

Gathering stories from affected parties is one of the top elements found in a documentary. While it may seem to be the easy route to ask guided questions in an interview for your film, consider the ethical dilemma you and the interviewee are facing. Is it right to persuade your source to say something they might not mean in the heat of the moment, only to have to immortalized in film forever? No. You need their true account of the events leading up to their involvement in the film. If your chosen topic is true, then the facts will speak for themselves through the vessels of your participants. Fairly give your participants a chance to share their thoughts and use those thoughts to your advantage, if possible.


Separation in Your Sources

Comparative analysis is a writing technique used in papers and research essays alike to showcase the dominating perspective. This type of analysis allows for a fair comparison between two ideas while using both sides to prove your chosen point. Creating a documentary is not just about highlighting one single perspective and running with it; filmmakers should include opposing perspectives in a way that allows viewers to not only get both sides of the story but to further embolden the fact that the opposing side is the wrong side to be on. Make sure to get interviews and footage of what the opposing opinion is so that viewers don't feel they are being fed a one-sided sob story that they otherwise wouldn't care much about.


Making a documentary is a rewarding experience. Uncovering a truth or igniting change among the masses is reason enough to make a film, but it is also a complex activity that requires extra work to solidify your fairness and accuracy.