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Documentary Videos - The Basics

Documentaries focus on real people in real life situations. The purpose of a documentary is to tell a story for informational or entertainment purposes. Documentaries have taken on a new look and feel in recent years. This is in part due to advances in technology, affordable cameras and cutting edge DIY filmmaking software. Documentaries are no longer 80 minute, one dimensional films. With access to tools that make films, the docu-style of filmmaking has transcended into TV series and big picture movies. However, it’s not just about long form content. Short form film such as business profiles and commercial content can also adopt a “docu style” aesthetic. A documentary can be any length. For example, a five minute piece on a local artist or musician can be classified as a documentary. The short form angle has taken a prominent position in today’s world. These shorter form pieces can be shared via social media to the masses. The common necessity, regardless of length, is a good story. It's the filmmaker's job to bring the story to life by way of storytelling. Storytelling captures what makes the subject unique, and delivers a message. Everyone has a story, but it is that artistic lens of the filmmaker that takes a story and wraps it in a unique display full of emotion and purpose.

Craig Dacey
Jacob A Tapia

Tips for Documentary Videography


Start with A Story

Develop your story before you begin to shoot. Everything – from the way the film is shot to the narration – should then enhance, support, and move that story forward.


Think Small

Documentaries are notorious for trying to cover too much information at once. Find a subject you are interested in and then find a small area of that subject to focus on.


Be Creative

Documentaries are non-fiction, but that doesn't mean you can't be creative and tell your story in a unique and interesting way. Be open to new ways of story telling and enjoy the process.


Plan Ahead

A documentary can easily go from a month long project to years in the making if there isn't a clear path. Planning ahead will save time, money, and effort.

by Jacob A Tapia

How much should a Documentary Video cost?

Documentaries can vary wildly according to scope, craft, travel and length. Keep in mind that the cost of the video is not only in what it take to be shot, but just as much cost can go into post production services as well (editing, music, motion graphics, color grading, voice over, rush fees, 3rd party footage). It is key that you have a thorough pre-production plan so that the videographer has a sense of what the scope of the project is and what story you would like to tell.

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An example project

Short Form Documentary

Be sure to list the subject and what story you would like told. Is this about a person? An event? A location? What are your goals? Remember to preempt any questions and give examples of videos that you would like to see. Be open to pre-production, but give as much info on the shoot date, the amount of videos and if the price is negotiable. Talk about what you would like to see and who the audience will be. Remember, the more info given, the better.

Suggested Price: $3500

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