My Experience Producing a Documentary

This past summer, partnered with White Fox S.A., a filmmaking company in Greece, I was given the opportunity to produce my own mini-documentary. 2019 is the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death and to celebrate his life, the company produced an hour’s worth of a documentary and offered me the resources to produce a second, much shorter one. 

The first thing I did was peruse the existing documentary. I must have watched it about five times, noting not only the content but the formatting of the documentary— the transitions, the animations, even the fonts used. I researched Da Vinci’s life and loves— who was he, what drove him, what did he do? I learned more about him in a week than I probably would have in any other context— possibly more than I would want to know. I spent hours thinking about his work, and even more time trying to come up with a topic— one that revolved around Da Vinci and his Greek influences. I eventually settled on philosophy: What did Aristotle and Plato do for Da Vinci? How did they influence him? How did that transfer into his work?

Photo credit: White Fox S.A.

And then came the hardest part: writing the script. I have not written a single script in my life prior to this experience. I went in completely blind, trying to mimic the style of the documentary I had watched so many times but still wanting it to sound unique and make sure that my viewers would stay interested. I was able to pick up the style quickly enough and with quite some help, manage the content successfully as to not overwhelm and still include enough detail to produce an informative film.

After that was interviewing people, which meant I had to look nice and try not to stutter, to stare into the camera with conviction and drive purpose into my conversations. And after that came recording. Yes, the voice in the documentary is my own. I recorded the script twice, just to realize there was fuzziness and echo in the audio. That’s when White Fox moved me to a tiny studio in the corner of their office and asked me to record once more.

The editing and visual content portion of the documentary came last. Since it was a documentary and I was allowed to use preexisting materials that White Fox owned, it came down to selecting which pictures and videos I wanted to use where and for how long. There were some cool things I ended up doing, like using some animations and overlaying the sounds of a video with the script and the background music I selected. 

Photo credit: Anchita Khurana

I went into this experience blind, not expecting to learn as much as I did, much less actually pull off the project and complete it successfully. It was completely new to me, but so informative and productive. I would definitely do it again. I’m currently working on developing a series of events to showcase my documentary, which you can check out on Youtube here.

 

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