Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos, Revised Edition

Overview

In this revised edition of a universally acclaimed guide, Rosenthal’s intellectual impetus remains the same: "For me, working in documentary implies a commitment that one wants to change the world for the better. That says it all."

Even before important revisions, Donald E. Staples, University of North Texas, said of Rosenthal’s work: "This book should be called the ‘Documentary Filmmaker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The moral, ethical, aesthetic, and communicative problems of ...

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Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos, Fourth Edition

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Overview

In this revised edition of a universally acclaimed guide, Rosenthal’s intellectual impetus remains the same: "For me, working in documentary implies a commitment that one wants to change the world for the better. That says it all."

Even before important revisions, Donald E. Staples, University of North Texas, said of Rosenthal’s work: "This book should be called the ‘Documentary Filmmaker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The moral, ethical, aesthetic, and communicative problems of documentary filmmaking are explored through knowledge and experience in the field, studio, editing room, theater, and television. Every new or established documentary filmmaker should read it."

And Henry Breitrose, writing in International Documentary, stated: "The concentration on technique as an end in itself has resulted in altogether too many exquisitely wrought empty vessels. Alan Rosenthal’s new book comes as a corrective. . . . The book is a major contribution to the literature of film teaching and will be immensely useful as a textbook and as a humane, intelligent, and thoughtful refresher course for documentary makers."

An internationally renowned documentary filmmaker with more than sixty films to his credit, including the Peabody Award-winning Out of the Ashes, Rosenthal has written the first book to address the realities involved in the making of a documentary. Rather than dealing with theory or hardware, Rosenthal tackles the day-to-day problems from initial concept through distribution. Simply and clearly, Rosenthal explains how to write, direct, and produce the new documentary, whether film or video. He emphasizes the research and writing of the documentary, from approach and structure through interviewing, narration writing, and the complexities of editing. This emphasis makes his book unique.

The organization of the book follows the process of making a documentary. Part 1 discusses ideas, research, and script structure; parts 2 and 3 go over preproduction and production; part 4 explores editing and narration writing; and part 5 discusses distinctive forms of documentary, including cinema verite and documentary drama. The concluding chapter offers a perspective on the entire process involved in the making of a documentary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I can hardly praise this book enough. Should every documentary student read it? Certainly. Should every documentary filmmaker, no matter how experienced they are, read it? Certainly."—Austin Lamont, commenting on the first edition in Film Quarterly

“This book should be called the ‘Documentary Filmmaker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The moral, ethical, aesthetic, and communicative problems of documentary filmmaking are explored through knowledge and experi­ence in the field, studio, editing room, theater, and television. Every new or established documentary filmmaker should read it.”—Donald E. Staples, Univer­sity of North Texas

Booknews
Television filmmaker Rosenthal offers advice on making documentaries. He follows what he views as the natural progression of the documentary film, starting with discussions of ideas, research, and script structure; proceeding through preproduction and production; and then dealing with editing and commentary writing. He also examines the special considerations for the cases of cinema verite, documentary drama, history documentaries, family films, and industrial and public relations films. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809320141
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 5/29/1996
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Rosenthal was born in England, studied law at Oxford, and has made over sixty films for television. His books include New Challenges for Documentary, Why Docudrama? Fact-Fiction on Film and TV, and Jerusalem: Take One! Memoirs of a Jewish Filmmaker. He received a Peabody Award for Journalism and the International Documentary Association’s award for scholarship. Currently he divides his time among projects in Jerusalem, London, and New York. His most recent film is Adolf Eichmann: The Secret Memoirs.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the Revised Edition
Preamble: Preface to the First Edition
1 Introduction 1
Pt. 1 From Idea to First Draft
2 Clearing the Decks 9
3 Getting to Work 19
4 Writing the Proposal 33
5 Research 50
6 Shaping the Film 59
7 Beginning the First Draft 82
8 Completing the First Draft 96
Pt. 2 Preproduction
9 Budget and Contract 129
10 Preproduction Survey 144
Pt. 3 Production
11 The Director Prepares 163
12 Directing the Interview 175
13 On Location 188
Pt. 4 Postproduction
14 Editing 199
15 Writing the Final Narration 219
16 Finishing the Film 254
Pt. 5 Special Cases
17 Cinema Verite 265
18 Documentary Drama 276
19 The History Documentary 297
20 Family Films 307
21 Industrial and Public Relations Films 329
22 Staying Alive 342
Conclusion
23 Problems and Challenges 363
App Budget for a One-Hour Documentary, Peace Process 375
Selected Bibliography 381
Index 383
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