Film School: How to Make a Documentary (with Mark Bone)

'Rescate Ambar' | Mark Bone 'Rescate Ambar' | Mark Bone

A behind-the-scenes look at making a documentary – and how to approach crafting your own.

Documentarian and cinematographer Mark Bone has a series of videos about making documentaries. Based on his own experience working on docs of his own and for others, Mark offers insights into approaches to planning and storytelling in a documentary:

  • Find and simplify your theme
  • Determine structure – premise > inciting incident > rising action > climax > resolution
  • Establish your character

Contrary to what one might expect, Mark doesn’t go into a shoot hoping to miraculously discover the look and feel of his story – instead, he plans backwards from the edit:

Mark also invites you behind-the-scenes of documentary film-making:

Mark even applies his human-story-telling focus to his commercial work – and his approach is full of tips relevant to narrative work, particularly with minimal gear and personell (including the fantastic idea of scheduling time for “freestyle” shooting):

Further Viewing

Planning and clear vision is everything, as you can see in the pitch package for Rescate Ambar, one of Mark’s documentaries:

For more from Mark Bone, dive into his full playlist, Documentary / Directing Tips: