Making Your First Documentary: 10 Practical Tips

June 8, 2015


Making Your First Documentary:   10 Practical Tips

The decision to make a documentary is usually pretty simple. It’s the process of making it that is complex.

As a documentary filmmaker, I’ve always focused on subjects that mattered to me. I can only tell a story that I care about, that’s the starting point. If you believe in the story and its message, you should consider making a documentary about it.


Many articles have been written about the bureaucratic process of filmmaking: from the early research to the distribution of the film. In this article, I’ll give you 10 Practical Tips, based on my experience...



About the Author

Roy Zafrani is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, editor and educator. He has worked in numerous film productions within the creative industries since 1998, including cinema, theatre and television.


6 thoughts on “Making Your First Documentary: 10 Practical Tips

    1. Thanks Kayla– I still have to get back to you on your previous email for feedback, so I haven’t forgotten. Meanwhile, keep up the work & be sure to look at other’s work via youtube, vimeo, Sundance Channel, 48 hr film project, etc– (ie: technique in editing, lots of b-roll in various angles, close-ups to show detail, capture emotion, hard-hitting questions, etc–)


      1. Thanks so much for replying. I’ve been trying my best to do all the above mentioned things. It’s good to know I’m on the right track. 🙂 I look forward to hearing more from you.


      2. Hi Kayla– Tomorrow I’m posting a good 23 minute I found on Vimeo that might help with your doc/editing. It sounds kind of advanced, but its actually a good technique. Check it out tomorrow after it posts, if you’d like: and

        I like your website– its very simple & to the point, which reminds me that I have to “scale back” on mine & make it more simple & straight-forward (someday), too. Simple is better in this case; get to the point– just like in editing. A lot of my blog would end up on the cutting room floor– so I take a lesson in yours. Keep studying editing technique, how others cut– using vimeo & youtube– as well as the movies & docs. Stop & take in what the editor & director are trying to say & how they pace he film. We should all continue to learn, no matter “how experienced.” And don’t be afraid to experiment, as you could discover something new that would be yours so someday others will copy you!


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