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I Want to Make a Documentary: Where Do I Start?

Making a documentary might sound like a big task. That’s because it is! There are many steps to the process and decisions to make. It can be overwhelming just to even begin, but we’re here to help!

It’s important to know the process of producing a documentary, let alone any kind of film or video project. The more you know, the better your documentary will turn out, and the more successful it will be. So, let’s dive in to learn how you can start your next documentary project.

Why a Documentary?

First, let’s talk about why documentaries are a great format for telling stories. Documentaries provide factual information and can be used to educate viewers about a particular topic. They also have the potential to create an emotional connection with the audience, making them more likely to remember the subject of your film.

This is great for any kind of business, organization, or individual looking to make a lasting impression on their audience. Documentaries can also be used for marketing and promotional purposes as well as to share information with both potential clients or customers as well as returning. Your audience will see that they can trust you and want to continue building rapport.

Now that you understand why you might want to create a documentary, let’s talk about the production process.

Decide on Your Story

Now it’s time to start planning your project. And before you plan anything else, you need to plan our your story. To make a documentary, you’ll need to do some research and create an outline of your film’s concept. You need to decide what type of documentary you want to make (historical, biographical, issue-based), who the audience is, and how much money and time you can dedicate to making it.

It’s important to first set a goal of what you want your documentary to accomplish and create an outline on how to get there. You’ll have to research the subject matter, decide where and when you will shoot it, plan out interviews with experts or everyday people, and make sure you are following all legal guidelines for filming.

Be sure to look over “Key Components of a Documentary or Docuseries” as you plan so that you’re sure to include everything you need in order for your production to be a success.

Planning and Production

Before you can begin shooting, you’ll need to create a detailed plan. It’s smart to set up a timeline for yourself. This will help make sure you stay on track and don’t miss any important deadlines. Make sure to factor in time for post-production work such as editing the footage, adding music and titles, and color grading.

You’ll also need to set a budget for the project and make sure you have the necessary equipment. Depending on your documentary’s subject matter, you may need to rent or purchase specialized pieces of gear such as drones, lighting, or audio recording devices. And don’t forget about your filming locations! You’ll need to make sure you’re getting all of the proper permits and able to rent the spaces you need.

This is also when you’ll need to secure your cast and crew. Film production is a collaborative effort, and you’ll need people to help with everything from camera work to hair and makeup. You should also look into hiring any professional services that you may need such as editors or animators during this stage, even if you won’t need them for a bit.

And then it’s time for production to really begin! Keeping to your production schedule is crucial for making sure you capture all the footage you need. Make sure to allow yourself and your crew plenty of breaks to stay energized and avoid burnout.

Post-Production Magic

Once all of your footage has been collected and you have a rough cut of the documentary ready, you’ll need to go through post-production steps. This includes tasks such as sound mixing, color grading, music selection, graphic design, and audio sweetening.

This is where the real magic happens! Once complete, it’s time to review the footage and put together a final version.


Now that your documentary is finished, it’s time to get it out into the world. Yet before you distribute your film, there are a few steps that need to be taken.

You’ll have to decide which platforms and outlets will be most effective for reaching your target audience. You should also look into getting permission or licenses for any content used in the documentary.

Lastly, you’ll need to come up with a distribution plan including marketing strategies, social media campaigns, and promotional materials.

With all of these steps complete, your documentary is ready to share with the world! While making a documentary can be an intimidating process, it’s ultimately very rewarding and can teach you a lot about storytelling and filmmaking.

Where can I find a Production Company to Guide Me?

If you’re looking for some guidance on how to make a documentary, hiring a production company like C&I Studios can be a great investment in your documentary.

We specialize in documentary filmmaking and have a team of experienced professionals who can help you every step of the way. From creating a storyboard to distribution and every step in between, we can provide you with the support you need to make your project a success.

Our crews are highly experienced and have worked together on many productions. Working with a already-assembled crew can be incredibly beneficial to your production. You can read more about the subject here.

We also have studios in Los Angeles, New York City, Southern Florida, and more! You can rent studio space 24 hours a day too. And if you need access to some of the best film and audio equipment on the market, we offer rentals on those, too!

At C&I Studios, we have the experience and capabilities to help you make your documentary come to life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your next documentary project.

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