Documentary Research

“The documentarist has a passion for what he finds in images and sounds-which always seem more meaningful than anything he can invent….unlike the fiction artist, he is dedicated to not inventing. It is in selecting and arranging his findings the he expresses himself.”  –  Barnouw (1975) 

Since being in university my passion for documentary I has grown immensely, so for this final project I knew for certain that I wanted to create a documentary. I have always enjoyed the process of coming up with ideas and watching them come to life. I have a passion for the human condition  and how each person has their own stories to tell. My passion for documentary storytelling centres around the idea of real emotion and real people.  I have highlighted this through my media me project that I created in the summer holiday.

 Media Me Post

Before finalising an idea for my FMP I decided that I should recap on the documentary format. For this I watched many Lynda videos on the history of documentary, and found many valuable lessons of the art of documentary storytelling.


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(Kennedy 2016)

Watching these Lynda videos was a good way of re-capping on the lessons that my lecturer Ken Fero taught me when I did the documentary module in Year 2. It was also good in giving me documentary suggestions in which I can pull inspiration from for my FMP.

I went back to a website that Ken suggested to us, Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary  which essentially features many different documentary filmmakers giving advice on how to make a documentary film. This has been my go-to as I find it extremely helpful as successful industry professionals are the ones who are giving the advice from their own experiences. This has given me ideas of what to include and what not to include in my documentary.

Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary

In addition to this I have been reading Sheila Curran Bernard’s book “Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on screen”. Having read the second edition in my second year, and finding it very helpful. I decided to browse the third edition. I have taken many things from this book in terms of what makes a good story. This book covers every aspect of documentary filmmaking and has helped me immensely in thinking about my FMP idea.

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One quote in this book stood out to me in particular:

“…Students often seem to go first to “important” topics and the kinds of films that mimic the stereotype of what documentaries are…they should think backwards, not only in terms of what’s possible on a very tight schedule and budget, but what they would enjoy making a film about- and perhaps more importantly, what kind of film they’d want to see. Not every film has to expose cruelty or raise profound issues; some of the most profound films are the simplest.”  (Bernard 2010)

I find this quote to be true as I have experienced it myself. I always tend to jump to the big topics, and I fail to acknowledge that many people around me have very interesting stories to tell. So I have decided for my FMP idea I want to create a documentary about a local person who had an impact in peoples lives, weather that would be a small one or a big one. I am looking forward to FMP journey.


Barnouw, E. (1975) Documentary: A history of the non-fiction film. New York: Oxford University Press
 Bernard, S. C. (2010) Documentary storytelling, Third edition: Creative nonfiction on screen. 3rd edn. Amsterdam: Taylor & Francis
Kennedy, A. (2016) Documentary Storytelling [online] available from <; [17 December 2016]
 NFBOC (n.d.) Capturing reality: The art of documentary [online] available from <; [18 December 2016]


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