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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Using story techniques for documentary


I've been helping out on the edit of a long-form trailer for a TV documentary. It is a fun piece, layered on top of a topical issue. I can say no more here as the trailer is being created in order to win further funding from broadcasters.

Being a factual piece you may imagine there is nothing to bring from the storytelling craft to these projects. But there is. It is still a story, it is just a real story with real people. So while you can't get involved in the finer points of dialogue (this is not a Made In Chelsea style affair) you can bring many elements of story structure into play.

We worked on ensuring our trailer had these, very familiar, elements to them...

  • Who are the heroes?
  • What is their world?
  • What adventure have they been called on?
  • What barriers are getting in their way?
  • Who is the villain? (the villain can be circumstance / external forces)
  • Will they overcome the barriers and defeat the villain?
  • What in their characters helps them succeed? (or is it working together?)
  • Will the world be changed after? Or for whom? For everyone?

Not that squeezing all that in is easy of course. But it acts as a guide when you get stuck. And helps you overcome those editing barriers and continue your story journey. (sorry!)

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