Saturday, May 23, 2009

Documentary Storytelling

Anthony Artis mentioned this book during a recent Double Down Film Show podcast. I've been struggling with the plot for my documentary, so I ordered it right away.

It's a big book, no-nonsense walls of text and not interested in pictures. And within the first 10 pages it had me thinking about documentary structure and storyline in ways I had not been before. That didn't necessarily make my job easier, but I felt like I was back in college studying for an actual course, and learning at that level.

With my subject, I'm not lucky enough to have a storyline with an obvious main character, a quest, adversity, and a pre-ordained event path. Movies like The King of Kong, 10 MPH, and Spellbound have that part easy; they are tracing events leading up to a bigger, defining event - a big tournament, the end of the cross-country segway trip, and the National Spelling Bee.

I had a progression of events in mind for the board gaming documentary, bigger and bigger board gaming events leading up to the industry's biggest, but that's not a storyline.

However, now that I'm thinking storytelling, about how to best convey what's interesting about my topic, ways to tell that story are easily coming to mind. I've just finished the first draft of a plot outline, and though I know it needs work, it's really exciting to actually have that in hand. It's a big step!


  1. Awesome! You're really making it happen. So cool.

  2. Thanks so much for the mention! Am working on a third edtion now -- good luck with your film!