Modern HD Camera available for about $115 at time of writing
You don’t need a barrel of cash to shoot a high-quality HD documentary. Learn how do do it for under $300.
1. Sit down and decide what angle to take. In this example, let’s say that firefighters in your community on strike for better pay. How will you tell the story? Why are you concerned? Any good documentary must answer five basic questions: who, what, when, where, and why.
2. Do some research. Go to the library and dig up any information on the fire department. Go to City Hall and interview the mayor, the head of public works – anyone who may know something.
3. Get your equipment together. The two important things that will sett your film apart are lighting and sound. If you shoot inside, set up a floodlight. If you shoot outside, do it in good sunlight. Make sure to record all audio separarly, using your microphone on a digital recorder. It’s good to have a friend for this.
4. Start shooting. No one will mind if the camera shakes a bit, or if the lighting is slightly off. The important thing is to get the shot. Go to the fire department. Talk to the manager. Interview the officers on the ground. Most people will be happy to talk. Don’t forget to shoot “B-Roll” of cars going by, people talking, and other stuff that adds to the basic picture.
5. After you assemble all your raw material, it’s time to storyboard. Watch everything you have. Decide which shot goes where. Then write a script for your narrator (if you have one). Begin the process of working the video into a story. Make sure to take the audio you recorded separately and match it to the video.
6. Do some post-production. Burn it to a DVD and have a nonbiased friend watch your documentary. Make sure it all makes sense, and that every second of video propels the story forward. Any extra stuff gets cut.
7. Release your docu to the world! Save it to a high-quality format and upload it to YouTube. Take it to class on a DVD or flash drive.