February 16, 2018 at 7:40PM


Can anyone provide advice for a complicated documentary question?

Hi folks!
I'm currently directing my first long documentary (I don't want to call it a feature-length because it may only be about 45 minutes, but it's my first time directing/producing something longer than 10 minutes). It's got many complications but the main one is that the main subject for one part of this film has changed. It's a store that used to sell Confederate Flag clothing in Argentina. This is a positive thing for the many groups that worked to remove this symbol from the country over the years, but I'm afraid that my audience will expect me to have footage from this store, and it's been shutting down quite recently. I still have the ability to shoot everything else I mentioned in other locations (Brazil/United States).

I know this is tough to answer without much details but I don't want to bore everyone death. My general question to documentary filmmakers is basically this: if you start shooting about a particular subject and suddenly conditions change drastically, what do you do?

Thank you!


I am just beginning on my own doc filmmaking journey, but the advice that has been given to me in situations like these is to capture the changing conditions and make that part of the documentary. Maybe film some of the stores as they shut down, interview people about why they are closing, research the events/statistics that are leading to the closings and use that research to inform the direction of the story. This is actually some doc filmmaker's dream, to capture a real life story arc, something that is in the state of flux, as opposed to documenting a static condition (which is also very useful in its own right). Hopefully this situation can be a gift and not something that derails the project. Follow the story wherever it may lead. Best of luck!

February 20, 2018 at 1:15PM

Aaron Phillips

I have experienced this, and I would say that the line between this storyline crumbling or this storyline becoming even better is whether or not you can adapt and capture the new development in one way or another. Are you able to film anything related to the shutting down of the store? Like Aaron mentioned, you could try all kinds of different approaches if there is no giant wrecking ball exploding concrete through a confederate flag. (If only!) They all sound exciting to me, and as the insider you likely have even better ideas. In the edit, you will have to dedicate some creative thinking on how to incorporate this development into the overall story -- if you do at all -- but I bet if you do, you will have an even better film! Good luck. Would love to hear how it turns out.

February 21, 2018 at 9:19PM

Oakley Anderson-Moore

good answer Oakley Anderson

February 22, 2018 at 4:32AM, Edited February 22, 4:32AM


Have you seen Icarus on Netflix? A guy set out to make a documentary on his testing of the effects of performance doping on himself. While filming, one thing led to another and he uncovered the Russian doping scandal. Just a good example of how a documentary can adapt while it's being made

February 28, 2018 at 1:52PM

Tim McDermott
Video Editor / Digital Content Creator

the best thing you can do is go with the flow. documentary filmmaking should be about the journey and following the story wherever it may lead you. good luck!

February 28, 2018 at 6:27PM

Ekim Namwen

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