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Documentary Filmmaking

A Contemporary Field Guide

Second Edition

John Hewitt and Gustavo Vazquez

Publication Date - October 2013

ISBN: 9780199300860

256 pages
Spiral Bound
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The definitive guide to making documentary film.


Documentary Filmmaking: A Contemporary Field Guide, Second Edition, is a skills-oriented, step-by-step guide to creating documentary films, from the initial idea phase to distribution. Thoroughly updated to highlight the effects of technological advances and social media, this compact handbook offers something for all types of students: documentary recommendations (for the film buff); illustrations, examples, and commentary from working documentary makers, producers, editors, and distributors (for the more grounded, visual learner); the latest trends in Internet video (for the more "techie" documentarian); and practical financial tips, fundraising ideas, and legal considerations (for the more idealistic-and not always realistic-visionary).

New to this Edition

  • A look at innovative uses of Facebook, YouTube, and file sharing sites
  • Coverage of groundbreaking new ways to fund projects, including the use of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo
  • Analysis of the prevailing effect of technical advances--DSLRs, LED light panels, smart phone video, Bluetooth microphones, and 3D--on production
  • Discussion of the role of short-form documentaries in this new interactive and social-media-fueled culture
  • Illuminating Interviews and commentary from producers and directors of recent works, including CJ Hunt, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Barbara Grandvoinet, Ken Kobre, John Leaños, and Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

About the Author(s)

John Hewitt is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. His 2012 documentary on photojournalists, Deadline Every Second, appeared on public broadcast systems in Australia, Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Gustavo Vazquez is a Professor in the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His latest documentaries on popular culture, Que Viva la Lucha and Playing with Fire, have screened in film festivals in the United States and internationally.

Previous Publication Date(s)

October 2013
February 2009


"Documentary Filmmaking is well-written, pragmatic, down to earth, and at the same time inspiring. It is written to teach, inform, train, and help students succeed in making their own documentaries. It is the best book in the field today."--Ramon Soto-Crespo, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

"This book is an ideal text for an introductory documentary production class. It will work for a student who will only make one documentary and for someone who is embarking on a career in documentary filmmaking."--Ben Levin, University of North Texas

"This is a very thorough and clear explanation of documentary filmmaking from initial conception to finished product. I highly recommend it."--Sally Rubin, Chapman University

Table of Contents

    Table of Contents
    1. Develop Your Idea and Investigate Your Access
    2. Building Characters and the Visual Story
    3. Preparing for Collaboration
    4. Paying For It: Fundraising
    5. Preparation for the Long Haul
    6. Planning for Effective Interviews
    7. Sound Considerations
    8. Natural or Portable Lighting
    9. Production: Shooting the Documentary
    10. Producing for Small Screens and Mobile Devices
    11. Using Music in Your Documentary
    12. Finding Structure for Short and Feature Docs
    13. Editing the Documentarty
    14. Starting the Buzz and Going to Festivals
    15. Distribution
    Appendix 1 Documentaries to See

Teaching Resources

ยท        Companion Website: (oup.com/us/hewitt) featuring interviews with accomplished documentarians on their production process and sample Quarter and Semester course Syllabi.