Tuesday, June 11, 2013

American Doc: Five Tips for Nonfiction Filmmakers

Recently, I was on a panel at the Little Rock Film Festival titled “Cinematic Nonfiction: Not Your Parents’ Documentary Film.” As our moderator Robert Greene, the director of “Fake It So Real,” and I waxed rhapsodic over the state of nonfiction filmmaking in Denmark, I realized that my own doc philosophy has evolved over the years – as I’ve noticed more and more that Americans lag behind much of the world when it comes to quality doc-making. While a lot of nonfiction aficionados like to chalk up this disparity to generous government subsidies in Europe, the problem actually lies much deeper than we’d like to admit, in general approach rather than in funding (or lack thereof). To paraphrase something Danish documentarian Eva Mulvad (“The Good Life”) once explained to me – and that I’ve been quoting ever since – American filmmakers tend to be addicted to talking heads, and the British obsessed with social issues. Whereas the Danish don’t even separate “fact” from fiction – the film school teaching one technique that applies to both narrative and nonfiction. The result is a country that simply produces great cinematic stories rather than movies that dully lecture or gratingly preach.

So with this in mind I’ve compiled a list of top five tips I wish every doc-maker would take to heart.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

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