The Insiders’ Guide to Factual Filmmaking is an accessible and comprehensive ‘how to’ guide about the craft of making documentaries for TV, online or social media. Filmmaker Tony Stark distils a long career at the BBC and as an independent producer to explain the conceptual, visual, editorial and organisational skills needed to make impactful and stylish factual films.
Interviews with top industry professionals in the UK and US - commissioners, executive producers, filmmakers, strand editors and media lawyers – add valuable insight and authority to this book. For more experienced filmmakers The Insiders’ Guide tells you how to get the green light for undercover investigations, how to tell film stories online and on social media, and how to budget a factual film.
This is a key text for anyone who wants to succeed in the rapidly changing, competitive freelance markets in Britain and America. It provides expert guidance to students on filmmaking courses, journalists wanting to move from print to video and non-professionals with an interest in film-making. Whatever the final destination of your film – and whatever the budget - The Insiders’ Guide provides a vital roadmap.
The book’s accompanying website is a ‘show-me’ resource for new directors: with 24 specially-shot film clips illustrating the key rules of filmic grammar and sequence shooting – together with downloadable versions of essential production forms.
Table of Contents
Table of contents
PART 1: SURVIVAL SKILLS
- THE FACTUAL FILM-MAKER’S SKILL-SET
- THE ART OF TREATMENT WRITING
- ON LOCATION
- TALKING HEADS
- VISUAL STORY-TELLING
- FROM PAPER CUT TO FINE CUT
- HOW TO THRIVE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD
- REDUCING RISK
- PLANNING A PRODUCTION
- SECRET FILMING
- COUNTING THE COST
A Survival Guide for Newcomers to the Industry
PART 2: CREATIVE SKILLS
Persuading a Commissioner Read your Proposal from Beginning to End
Filming Images, Directing Sequences and Working with Reporters
Choosing Contributors, Conducting Interviews and Making your Characters Look and Sound Good on Camera.
Constructing and Illustrating a Linear Narrative
Editing A Factual Film
Factual Film-Making For Online Platforms
PART 3: PLANNING SKILLS
Keeping Crew and Contributors Safe on Research and Film Trips
How to Organise Yourself Before, During and After a Film Shoot
PART 4: UNDERCOVER SKILLS
Evidence, Ethics, Safety and the Law in Undercover Film-Making
PART 5: FINANCIAL SKILLS
Budgeting a Factual Film
Tony Stark is a documentary filmmaker, executive producer and former BBC commissioner with a 30-year career making high profile documentary films and series for broadcast television, specializing in investigative filmmaking. His films have been shown on the BBC, Channel Four, ITV, Al Jazeera, American PBS channels and many European TV channels. His programmes have been nominated for several industry awards: a BAFTA, the Foreign Press Association Media Awards, the Association for International Broadcasting and the San Francisco International Film Festival. For more information go to moonstonefilms.co.uk
‘I only wish that Tony Stark had written this book 35 years ago when I started making documentaries. Tony's engaging and insightful work is essential reading for anyone who wants to get a head start in the field. Absorb what not to do as well as learn from the experts who Tony has gathered, all of whom provide sage advice to the budding documentarian.’
Jeff Bieber, Executive Producer, WETA Washington DC
‘Tony Stark’s company made for me at Channel Four one of the most important and difficult documentaries I commissioned in my career. So I would notice any guide he wrote. What I love about this guide is that it’s practical and informed and it also shows you that a talented person with a great idea can break through. TV documentary used to be for the few. Now it’s for the many. Tony Stark genuinely wants the many to get their chance.’
Dorothy Byrne, Editor-at-Large, Channel 4 TV
'This excellent and thorough book covers every aspect of factual programme making, so is an invaluable resource whatever your level and is particularly useful for aspiring shooter producer directors and series producers.'
Cat Lewis, BAFTA, RTS, Rockie & Int Emmy winning Exec Producer and CEO of Nine Lives Media
'Video of one sort or another is rapidly becoming the medium of choice in this digital world. Tony Stark’s Insiders' Guide to Factual Filmmaking is an essential buy for anyone aspiring to enter that world and make a living from it. Practical, clear and very thorough.'
George Carey, Independent producer and former editor of the BBC Newsnight and Panorama strands'
'The book provides practical hints on how to present an idea and shoot the actual film [... and] very pragmatic tips on how to do a TV and online documentary film in a very competitive market, starting from idea proposal and continuing through its shooting and financing. There are many juicy quotes from interviews with 19 British and American industry professionals'
Modern Times Review
'This guide contains some tough messages for aspiring documentarists. The demand and supply equation in this field is notoriously lopsided. Often good film ideas fall for that reason alone: too many stories chasing too little airtime and money. Tony Stark’s book could just as easily be called a “A Survivor’s guide…”. Follow his meticulously researched advice and insights, and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving your goal of becoming an accomplished documentary maker.'
Samir Shah, CEO, Juniper, an independent TV & radio production company - and a former head of current affairs, BBC TV
Please visit our companion website for additional support materials.