Format And Methodology

The sections of this book are intended only as a guide. For instance, there may be information throughout the book—not just in the section on editing—that will prove useful to someone editing a film. Generally speaking, Part I introduces the concepts of story and structure and applies them to the initial stages of a film's conception. Part II looks further at the development of a story from idea to treatment. Part III looks at storytelling in the field and in the editing room. Part IV includes conversations about documentary storytelling with professionals whose work is diverse in both content and style, from direct cinema to archival filmmaking, and whose involvement includes creating and commissioning documentary work as well as using it to advance organizational goals. Many of those interviewed have enjoyed lengthy and distinguished careers, while others are just starting out. Additional material from these interviews and from conversations with several other filmmakers is interspersed throughout the book.

The stages of filmmaking generally described in this book are research, development, outline, treatment, shooting treatment, assembly, and assembly script, further revised as rough cut, fine cut, picture lock, and script lock. Not all films follow this path, however, and throughout the book I've tried to acknowledge the variants that exist, whether for reasons of budget, schedule, or production style. Documentaries involving extensive dramatic recreations or those driven by an underlying essay are sometimes scripted (or at least a preliminary script is drafted) prior to production. Some treatments are long documents, while others consist of a few pages submitted for the approval of an executive producer. There are also times when an event demands an immediate response from filmmakers, in which case shooting sooner rather than later is the only way to go. I trust that filmmakers can pick and choose from this information as needed to suit their circumstances.

Examples in this book that are drawn from actual films are identified as such. Otherwise, the examples were created by me for illustration purposes, and any resemblance to actual films, whether produced or proposed, is purely coincidental. At the back of the book, I've included some information on films cited, many of which are now available for purchase or rental through online vendors.

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