Shooting a documentary is very different from shooting a narrative film. In many ways, it can be on-the-cuff, guerilla-style shooting. Documentaries can also be made of properly planned and composed shoots. Great documentaries are made of both and thus require an organized documentary shooting schedule. Creating a documentary shooting schedule is an effective way to ensure you get everything you need to piece together a compelling documentary. It will also help your production stay organized, efficient, and streamlined. Let’s dive into how to create a documentary shooting schedule.
Create a stripboard
The best way to create any shooting schedule is to use stripboards. Stripboards used to be physical strips of paper with shooting details that could be rearranged on a board to create a schedule. Luckily, in StudioBinder, creating a stripboard is easier than ever. Check out our video tutorial below to learn how to create a shooting schedule using stripboards.
Typically in StudioBinder’s scheduling app, you would upload your screenplay so it can be converted into strips. However, when it comes to documentaries, screenplays are not used. Do not fret. You can simply make individual strips based on each video shoot.
Let’s take a look at how you would make a strip for an interview shoot in a documentary.
First, rather than uploading a script, select New Schedule.
Once you click New Schedule this will prompt you to give the schedule a name. Name the schedule and click Create Schedule.
Now your schedule has been created. Next, you'll need to add "Scenes" to the schedule.
For documentaries, this may be an event, interview, or simply a general location shoot for B-Roll. Let’s take a look at a few different documentary scenes and how to create stripboards for them.
One of the most common types of scenes shot for a documentary is the interview. Documentaries will often have various interviews so it’s important to create a detailed stripboard for each to distinguish each scene.
To create an interview scene, click Add Scene.
Once you click Add Scene this will prompt a script template. Here you can add the details of the specific scene you are shooting.
In the scene heading, enter whether this interview will take place indoors (INT.) or outdoors (EXT.). For the setting, enter who will be interviewed (INTERVIEW WITH DR. WILLIAMS). Finally, add the time of day this interview will take place (DAY, NIGHT, etc.).
Beneath the scene heading, enter details about the interview itself (Interview with Dr. Williams on forest conservation).
Once you've finished, click Save Scene. This will create the scene strip on your stripboard.
The process for adding scene strips for events or simply a general location shoot for B-Roll is the same: Add a new scene, fill in the details, and save the scene.
Here is our example stripboard with all of our interview, event, and B-Roll scenes.
While events will vary greatly from documentary to documentary, the template will work for the details of any documentary scene. Locations, scene descriptions, and time of day will distinguish the scene on a schedule.
Arrange stripboard schedule
Once you’ve created your stripboards for your various documentary scenes, it’s time to arrange the strips to create a shooting schedule. Documentary shoots are very different from narratives.
The order of the shoot will depend greatly on what needs to be shot first to inform the rest of the shoot. As we said before, these initial shoots are typically interviews.
In our example stripboard schedule, we scheduled all of our interviews first followed by events. We also clumped scenes that are shot in the same location.
Once you arrange your strips into an appropriate shooting sequence you can add dates and times to organize your schedule. The best way to do this for a documentary in the app is by creating a day break.
Documentaries can be shot very much on the fly. However, there are various scenes in a documentary that can and should be planned for. Creating a documentary shooting schedule will help you organize the timeline of your documentary production.