Writing the Documentary

Learn to craft a documentary using words that will make it compelling and successful

Documentary filmmaking requires writing at every stage of the process. From pitch through production, post and final narration, how the producer crafts words can make the difference between producing a masterpiece or no documentary at all. This one-week course is designed for accomplished producers as well as documentary novices determined to improve their proposals, treatments, interviews and narration. It will cover the fundamentals of good writing in general – and the crafting of both narration as well as interviewee words to picture. Daily lectures, film critiques, one-on-one instruction and writing exercises will deepen appreciation for the power of word choice, clarity, brevity, rhythm, pace and style. Students will leave with an array of new tools and insights into the critical role of writing in documentary to help them on the road to achieve their finest work.

Instructors

Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald is an Emmy Award-winning writer and director of documentary films for National Geographic Explorer, Discovery, TLC and PBS. His films include a PBS special, West Point; Legendary Lighthouses of Hawaii for Oregon Public Television and PBS; Tornado of the Century, for the Discovery Channel; Great Palaces of the World, written and produced for TLC; and Avalanche!, written and coproduced for NOVA/WGBH. He has also written a 13-part series for the Discovery Channel, titled The Himalaya, as well as a score of films for National Geographic. His producing and story work encompasses formats from worldwide broadcast to online media, from mass audience to NGO and advocacy, working with subjects that span the sciences, humanities, and current events -- and geographically, around the world.  Jack has been teaching for over a dozen years with high praise from his students.