Producing the Documentary

What You'll Learn

If the challenge and reward of documentary filmmaking excites you, but you don't know where to start, this workshop will give you a guide to the whole process! Putting together a good documentary (and getting it seen) is like completing a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle the size of a basketball court - with only blue pieces.

This workshop will cover the basics of this demanding and underpaid art form, from the personal to the practical. We'll go through all the stages of documentary planning, from pre-production to filming to promotion.

This workshop will cover:

  • What defines a "documentary"
  • Finding a story, research, and finding your own voice
  • Who does what and who pays for it
  • Preparing to shoot interviews and B-roll
  • Working with others, organizing the mess: logs, outlines & scripts
  • Licensing music and footage
  • New technologies to pay attention to
  • Funding sources, markets, and film festivals

You'll also receive tons of great supporting documents including sample budgets, templates of common production forms and releases as well as a range of articles.

Who Should Take This

Anyone who wants to make a documentary but isn't sure where to start. Some filmmaking experience is helpful, but not necessary.

Presented By Abigail Wright

Abigail Wright

Abigail Wright is a professional filmmaker, writer, producer, and information designer. For the independent film company Miranda Productions, Inc., Abigail wrote and produced four environmental documentaries that have accumulated over eighty major awards and have been broadcast all over the world. She is the senior producer of an innovative immersive website soon to be launched, working on a hybrid documentary based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and developing a TV series for kids on the wonders of food. Before moving to Boulder in 1994, Abigail acted and directed on stages in New York, Toronto, and Montreal.

BDA Members

Length: 2 hours, 28 minutes / Large Version: 3.05GB / Small Version: 917 MB / Support Files: 77 MB
+ Show Video Chapters

About The Video:

BDA Members: $0.00

Non-Members: $20.00

Length: 2 hours, 28 minutes / Large Version: 3.05GB / Small Version: 917 MB / Support Files: 77 MB
+ Show Video Chapters

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Customer Comments

I was looking for an introduction to basic concepts - bull's eye. Content was worthy of a graduate-level class.Luke
Read All Comments

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Comments For: Producing the Documentary

This class helped to build my confidence as a film producer. I feel very lucky to have been introduced to Abigail's world of expertise. I'd like BDA to offer a feedback workshop for film producers.Jennifer on 9/3/2014
Helpful tips from real world experience.Courtney on 3/19/2013
I got a lot of useful and practical information that would be hard to find on my own. The instructor was knowledgeable and realistic in her presentation, she was awesome!Chris on 3/19/2013
Very informational. Abby was great!Nathaniel C. on 3/19/2013
Excellent class. All the elements were broken down very well. Great presentation, great visuals and handouts.Dana on 4/17/2012
A lot of good info on documentaries. The instructor was very knowledgeable and easy to interact with.erik on 4/17/2012
Very informative!Melodi on 4/17/2012
Abigail was fabulous and definitely knows this business.James on 1/10/2012
It was so informative and well organized. Abbey is a great speaker - lovely voice, great insights. Excellent information.Maggie on 1/10/2012
Instructor had solid experience and knowledge of the subject.Cheryl on 6/23/2011
A good snapshot of documentary filmmaking.Paulette on 3/30/2011
Abigail provided a very comprehensive look into the world of Documentary film making, and posed great tips and hints as well as caveats and pitfalls. It was very helpful!Gabriel on 10/12/2010
A great overview of a very complicated subject, what a comprehensive background Abigail has for teaching this class!Dara on 6/29/2010
I was looking for an introduction to basic concepts - bull's eye. Content was worthy of a graduate-level class.Luke on 12/15/2009
The seminar was top-notch. Very informative, anecdotal, and up-to-date. You are very fortunate to have Abby on board. She is first class. Don't lose her. I hope you are paying her well.Ken on 6/2/2009
Abigail Wright is great - very knowledgeable, thorough & informative.Hannah on 6/1/2009
This was a great class. I drove up from Colorado Springs and it was so worth it. Abigail truly wants to inspire you and give you the tools needed. I am very grateful to her and the BDA for sharing this. The attachments she sent with forms and contacts and websites was invaluable.Suzanne on 9/24/2007
Very thorough on details and the role of producer, including forms, logs etc.Shari on 7/20/2007
It was great. Very informative and current.Felicia on 12/11/2006
Informative and creative session. Class participation was helpful and fun. Great class for those embarking on new documentary.Whitney on 12/11/2006
The session met my expectations. The Ms. Wright enriched her lecture with practical insights that I found valuable.Maribel on 3/31/2006
The instructor was very knowledgeable in the field and a good speaker.Todd on 3/31/2006
Lots of information, It gave a clear understanding of what goes into creating a documentry. I loved all her notes that she is going to forward in an attachment, that alone is worth 1000 words.Kirk on 3/31/2006
Conceptural, historical and practical - good mix.david on 1/13/2006
Very good information and exactly what I was hoping for.Michael on 1/13/2006
Brought elements to my attention I hand't thought about previously.Sheryl on 1/13/2006

Chapters for Producing the Documentary

Chapter Name Start Time (HH:MM:SS)
What is Producing? 00:00:38
The Phases of a Documentary 00:03:04
Film is a Visual Medium 00:38:06
Documentary Genres 00:42:11
Utilizing Filmic Rhetoric 01:21:06
Suggested Reading 01:27:14
Kickstarter 01:28:53
Pre-Production 01:30:29
Production 01:31:57
Releases 01:42:02
Logging Footage as a Producer 01:44:51
Building a Story 01:55:46
Stock Footage 02:13:23
Production "To Do Lists" 02:21:23
Finalizing and Distributing a Documentary 02:23:18


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