Bruce Weber Photographer Discusses the Elements That Make a Good Documentary Film

2 min


Documentary filmmaking is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding projects one can be involved in. Making a documentary movie goes beyond just having a good idea or concept, and recording video footage. A number of important steps are involved in its film making process, and anyone making such a movie needs to have a good artistic eye and technical know-how. Due to the interesting process of making a documentary, this field attracts a lot of creative individuals, Bruce Weber Photographer being one of them. While he is primarily known for his photography work, Bruce has also made multiple prominent documentaries over the years.

Unlike other movies, documentaries are made to capture reality. A lot of them are created to inform, educate and even to maintain a historical record. Because of their nature, the process of creating a documentary requires a good deal of research. There are multiple elements important to a good documentary movie, including:

  • Subject: The topic or the subject of the documentary will undoubtedly be the core element. This subject can be just about anything a filmmaker is passionate about. Usually, documentaries involve something that goes beyond actions and relationships, and is more factual and specific. One may often see subjects related to public matters being depicted through documentaries. It can also cover topics associated with crime, politics, social issues and so on. A good documentary usually includes real places, people and events.
  • Purpose: The purpose implies to what actually the filmmaker desires to say about the subject of the documentary.  Most impactful documentaries have a strong purpose and a compelling point to make.  For instance, a wildlife documentary may put emphasis on the conservation or preservation of a certain endangered species. In many cases, documentaries are aimed at recording and interpreting actual problems to inform the audience of the subject and provide them with a clearer view.
  • Form: In simple terms, form implies to the formative process of the film. It includes the original conception of the filmmaker, the sounds, structures and sights used in the documentary, and so on. The form of a documentary is usually more varied lose and functional than plays or novels.
  • Production method and technique: This component refers to the manner in which movies are put together. Production method and technique would include how the video clips are shot; sounds are recorded, as well as how the two are edited together. One important aspect of documentaries is to cast actual people associated with the subject, rather than actors representing them. Most documentaries are shot at the actual location and not on human-made sets.
  • Audience experience: The objective of a good number of documentary movies is usually twofold. They deliver a type of aesthetic experience, and try to affect the attitude or point of view of the audience.

The most popular movies made by Bruce Weber Photographer include Let’s Get Lost (1988), a novel-like documentary on the troubled jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.  It is an excellent example of a well-made documentary.

Like it? Share with your friends!