Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen, 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

Documentary Storytelling

Creative Nonfiction on Screen, 4th Edition

By Sheila Curran Bernard


358 pages

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pub: 2015-12-23
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Documentary Storytelling has reached filmmakers and filmgoers worldwide with its unique focus on the key ingredient for success in the growing global documentary marketplace: storytelling. This practical guide reveals how today’s top filmmakers bring the tools of narrative cinema to the world of nonfiction film and video without sacrificing the rigor and truthfulness that give documentaries their power. The book offers practical advice for producers, directors, editors, cinematographers, writers and others seeking to make ethical and effective films that merge the strengths of visual and aural media with the power of narrative storytelling.  

In this new, updated edition, Emmy Award-winning author Sheila Curran Bernard offers:

  • New strategies for analyzing documentary work
  • New conversations with filmmakers including Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers), Kazuhiro Soda (Mental), Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga), and Cara Mertes (JustFilms)
  • Discussions previously held with Susan Kim (Imaginary Witness), Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), and James Marsh (Man on Wire).

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1                 Introduction

       PART I      •    Understanding Story

CHAPTER 2          Story Basics       

CHAPTER 3          Finding the Story             

CHAPTER 4          Story Structure

CHAPTER 5          Time on Screen

CHAPTER 6          Creative Approach         

CHAPTER 7          Close Viewing   


        PART II   •    Working with Story

CHAPTER 8          Research            

CHAPTER 9          Planning              

CHAPTER 10        Selling  

CHAPTER 11        Shooting             

CHAPTER 12        Editing 

CHAPTER 13        Narration and Voice-Over           

CHAPTER 14        Storytelling: A Checklist


       PART III   •   Talking About Story

CHAPTER 15        Alex Gibney      

CHAPTER 16        Susan Kim          

CHAPTER 17        James Marsh    

CHAPTER 18        Cara Mertes      

CHAPTER 19        Stanley Nelson 

CHAPTER 20        Deborah Scranton          

CHAPTER 21        Kazuhiro Soda  

CHAPTER 22        Orlando von Einsiedel   

About the Author

Sheila Curran Bernard is an award-winning filmmaker and writer whose credits include projects for broadcast and theatrical release as well as museum and classroom use. She has taught at Princeton University, Westbrook College, and the University at Albany, SUNY.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Direction & Production
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Screenwriting