Most Popular Film Techniques in Documentaries

When done right, documentaries, which many view as bland films with few to no artistic elements, can be engaging works of art. To create an enticing documentary that people want to watch, you need to employ film techniques in documentaries that bring the story to live. We share some of those techniques below.

Use Allegorical Imagery

Depending on the type of documentary you're shooting, you may not have a lot of original footage. However, you may have plenty of soundbites. When looking for imagery to go along with these soundbites, try to refrain from being too literal. Use images and footage that evoke the emotions you wish to evoke but that may have no literal connection to the soundbites.

Find the Right Music

Music is key in any film, but it can make or break a documentary. Put forth the effort into finding music that evokes the appropriate feelings in audience members. Once you've selected the clips you wish to use, learn how to add music to your video for the greatest impact.

Make a Movie, Not a Documentary

If you set out to make a documentary, you'll make a documentary. Documentaries have a reputation for being boring. Instead, set out to make a movie. You've chosen film, this incredible artistic medium, to tell your story, which you didn't have to do. Do right by the medium and make a movie.

Utilize the Environment

The environment in which a story took place tells just as much about the event as witnesses. If you're fortunate enough to be able to travel to the original setting, use it. When interviewing subjects, do so in front of, say, the blast site, or the neighborhood that was most affected by a natural disaster. Place soundbites over footage of your camera panning the environment and over close-ups of particularly notable details.

Documentaries can be engaging, cinematic artworks. Peruse Shutterstock’s documentary footage for more ideas of how you can turn your next biopic into a movie people want to see. Our library of stock video clips covers just about every imaginable topic at a budget-friendly price.

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