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How do you make an interesting documentary? You could choose a controversial subject, give sound bytes that will ensure you hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and appear on daytime television on a show that nobody watches. The other option is to make a tightly edited documentary with interesting narrative elements.

Here we list down a few easy ways to make a successful documentary without expending too much of effort or time.

Plan ahead

This is perhaps more important than anything else. Before you hit the floor you need to have a clear agenda to avoid costly mistakes while filming. Plan your narrative structure and work and edit accordingly. Ensure that the first shot of your documentary is captivating enough and draws your audience in.

Have crisp and informative interviews

Documentary interviews and vox pops can add a lot of color to a documentary. But some people have the tendency to drone hours on end when the spot a camera rolling. Either request for snappy answers or edit out and retain just the main points that are relevant to your documentary.

Focus on your audio

Unlike potboiler movies you have no gimmick or inanity to fall back on. The audio of your documentary needs to be clear and without atmospheric disturbances. Some documentary makers go overboard to look and sound natural and come up with audio that is downright unprofessional. Invest in decent mikes, if it is a sit down interview use a bidirectional mike and use a lapel mike if your subject needs to move around. Vox pops can be noisy affairs; if your audio recordings are unclear and sound more like a cacophony of blaring horns, do way with it altogether. Clean up the audio and focus on it as much as you focus on your video.

Add interesting visual and narrative elements

It could be a sudden pop on caption or an animated character speaking instead of a faceless voice over. Design pleasing subtitles and use editing techniques such as jump cuts and shot transitions like fade ins and fade outs, wipes, and cutaway shots.

You don’t need to have a sky high budget or invest on expensive equipments. All you need to do is keep these simple tips in mind before you hit record.

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