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Get Close

Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking

Rustin Thompson

Publication Date - 01 February 2019

ISBN: 9780190909901

216 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock


A refreshing new practical approach to documentary filmmaking, Get Close: Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking equips new and veteran filmmakers with the knowhow to make artistically rewarding documentaries for less money, less hassle, and less time. Author and veteran filmmaker Rustin Thompson shows that by stripping away, sidestepping, or reassessing the entrenched industry hurdles-long waits for funding, the unwieldy crews, the unnecessary gear, the gauntlet of film festivals, pitch forums, and distribution networks-filmmakers can move quickly from idea to execution to finished film. Throughout the book, Thompson demystifies and de-clutters the way docs are produced today, illustrating the use of a few simple and accessible tools and techniques while still engaging with the aesthetic possibilities of the medium, its creative opportunities and its satisfying rewards of giving back to the world. Using the essential lessons in Get Close, filmmakers will learn to eliminate physical and financial barriers between themselves and their subject matter, ultimately leading them to tell more artful, illuminating stories and find the joy in documentary filmmaking.


  • Shows filmmakers how to make documentaries with a one- or two-person crew
  • Promotes transparency in the film industry
  • Includes tips for filmmakers with varying levels of experience

About the Author(s)

Rustin Thompson is a writer and filmmaker who has made six feature length documentaries, beginning with 30 Frames A Second: The WTO in Seattle (2000), which won several Best Documentary awards and was named one of the Top Ten films of the year by the American Library Association. He is a former CBS News cameraman and national Emmy award winner who, along with his wife and filmmaking partner Ann Hedreen, own White Noise Productions, where they've made more than 150 short documentaries for non-profits. Thompson is also host of the popular Americana radio program Road Songs on KBCS.FM and is a graduate in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.


"Smart, to the point, and full of important info. It will be helpful for all kinds of filmmakers - those starting out or those wanting to change their practice. A great book." --Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director, Women Make Movies

"A passionate appeal for a return to a more intimate approach to documentary filmmaking, free of large crews and lengthy fundraising schedules. In an engaging and lively style, it teaches you how to master all the roles that are necessary to make a great documentary and remain true to your creative vision. Recommended for those new to the field and experienced filmmakers who want inspiration to keep making films!" --Julia Haslett, Assistant Professor of Documentary Film, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

"A powerful and in-depth exploration of intimate, minimal crew documentary filmmaking. Smartly written, incorporating excellent illustrations of the best practices, Get Close drills into the art and aesthetics of non-fiction storytelling and is a must for teaching this curriculum. I look forward to using it." --Jane Winslow, Co-director, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, Associate Professor of Broadcast Production, SUNY Oswego

"A well-written, accessible, and much-needed guide to making documentaries without big budgets or big crews. Thompson, a television news cameraman who became a documentary filmmaker, shows how to capture experiences with a lean team of only one or two members." --B.J. Bullert, Professor, Core Faculty at Antioch University, and author of Public Television: Politics and the Battle over Documentary Film

Table of Contents



    Lean Team Filmmaking Will Liberate You

    Chapter One: My Lean Team Epiphany
    The Revolution Was Televised

    Chapter Two: Get Close
    Eliminate Barriers and Plan Your Project

    Chapter Three: The Lean Team Toolkit
    Essential gear and supporting equipment

    Chapter Four: The Shoot
    Field Production in the Lean Team Style

    Chapter Five: The Edit
    Cutting as a Lean Team Filmmaker

    Chapter Six: Film Festivals and Distribution
    Keep Your Lean Team Soul and Find an Audience