Each documentary filmmaker has their own way, own thoughts and own methods from realism to poetry, from being in the film to refraining from being visible. As there are stars in the sky, there are ways we innovate. Learning from others inspires. Here are some ideas from the masters which will help you reflect on fine-tuning your film.
Let's start with Michael Moore who has 13 rules for making a documentary.
I chose the two I really GET.
Second on my list is the gracious Agnes Varda, the French artist/ documentarian/storyteller of both fiction and documentary. She discusses her creations for the Hollywood Reporter where she says:
Third on my list is Werner Herzog. This German filmmaker of both documentary and fiction films is complex, complicated, radical, and I guess, love him or loathe him. I go with he first.
The fourth on my list is Lindsay Anderson the British filmmaker of both fiction and documentary, whose goal was to understand and respect “ordinary people”. Considered an anarchist, he broke away from the conventions of the BBC, making documentaries with sensitivity and beautiful camera work. Behind his lens was always a critic or observation on society. My favourite is his first short: O Dreamland which you can view for free at the BFI
The last is the Iranian poetess Forough Farrokhzad, who made only one ethnographic documentary, The House is Black, about a leper colony in Iran where she treats the subject matter through poetry and grace. For Farrokhzad, poetry was a way of seeing and feeling the world. She used symbolisms and metaphors visually where the written word was not quite enough. The Shah of Iran broke down in tears after watching the first screening of the documentary.
The first words of her film open with these words of poetry which slide slowly and rhythmically throughout the work. There is only one piece of actual dialogue.
Enjoy the next week where ever you are. Christmas greetings to you all.
With all my love and thanks and gratitude for one year lived strong, another one to go
Filmmaker, teacher, traveller and storyteller