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Making Documentary Films and Videos: A Practical Guide to Planning, Filming, and Editing Documentaries Paperback – December 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Second Edition, Revised & Expanded edition (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080508181X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805081817
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barry Hampe has made more than two hundred documentary films and information videos as director or scriptwriter or both.

More About the Author

Documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter turned author. My latest book is 'Making Documentary Films and Videos.' I'm currently writing a book on creating client videos and researching a book on making documentaries of behavior. I'm married to the wife I started with. We have four fine sons, four handsome grandsons, and three beautiful granddaughters. I invite you to visit my websites: www.makingdocumentaryfilms.com, www.barryhampe.com, and my new blog site, www.makingdocsblog.com.

Customer Reviews

It was the best book on the subject I have read!!
B. Lund
It's an all around great book for anyone interested in filming a documentary.
Christopher E. Williamson
This book is a very useful guide for documentary film makers.
Rafiki

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By F. Felix on June 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, this is a tough one. How to review a book that contains fantastic topical information, surrounded by a lot of ridiculous, pointless, unsupported editorial?

The Good: as other reviewers have noted, this book provides some great information about the process of documentary filmmaking. There is a valuable & interesting discussion of ethics that goes well beyond the "get a release" advice that is all that other sources ever mention.

I also really enjoyed Hampe's emphasis on "visual evidence", rather than meaningless, pretty b-roll & his suggestion that you should turn off the sound to see if your footage is actually telling the story, or just illustrating the dialog. His recommendation to try to reduce talking heads is a great stimulus to problem-solving, & his emphasis on the all-important need for advance scripting & good story-telling is excellent.

"Truth" with a capital T is a big issue for Hampe, & he has an excellent discussion about it & the need for the documentary filmmaker to become expert in their subject to avoid manipulation & so that the right questions are asked both in the planning stage & as the project unfolds. This level of comprehension is also efficient because it prevents the project from devolving into the classic error of becoming a fishing expedition or treasure hunt where miles of video are shot in the hopes of something interesting randomly appearing in it, while the critical information needed to stitch a story together is missed entirely. Meanwhile, filtering & organizing all the material ratchets up the cost of the project, even though "video is cheap".

Okay, so now The Bad: in a way, this author has a wealth of good experience & information to share if you can just stand to be around him long enough to receive it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By RJS94 on February 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am starting my first documentary project and I picked up a number of books to guide me through the unfamiliar process. After reading and discarding several books on the topic, I was thrilled to discover Barry Hampe's book. It is by far the best written, most helpful and most informative guide to making documentaries that I have read.

The author is an excellent writer and the book is at all times succinct, but highly informative. It teaches you everything you need to know to make a great documentary, and also provides an extensive list of films to watch in order to demonstrate what is and is not desirable in a film. The author is an expert on the topic, and he does a fantastic job conveying the necessary information while making it simple and understandable to professionals and amateurs alike. He also devotes a portion of the book to documentary ethics, an important topic which gets too little attention from other writers.

In sum, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It has been indispensable to me in planning my documentary. I believe it is the best book to help guide you, whether (like me) you are just starting out with documentaries, or are a weathered professional looking for some new tips and advice.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Christopher E. Williamson on February 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
The first half of the book introduces the concept of a documentary, what is and isn't a documentary, and covers the ethics involved in documentary filmmaking.

The second half deals with actually producing the documentary. He ignores equipment, which is good because that means it doesn't contain quickly outdated information.

The author does a great job at guiding a budding filmmaker through the process of making a documentary.

I am currently using the information he gives on securing funds using a proposal and treatment, planning the documentary, shooting, and editing. I've found it to be a great resource and has helped me feel like this is something I can do.

He doesn't make it sound easy, but he does make it easier for beginning documentarians by helping us avoid mistakes and plan to succeed. His insistence on planning is really helping me to get my stuff together to do this the right way.

It's an all around great book for anyone interested in filming a documentary.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ben Koning on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Great book that cuts right to the real issues. Wow!

Many books describe how to compose, light, shoot, animate, edit, color grade, and author the DVD. You learn by mistake and take classes. One of the classes you take hopefully opens your eyes and you never, ever, see TV or movie images the same again.

And plenty of books exist about film writing or film theory or even documentary theory.

But this book brings it all together. Way beyond just "get a release". Think of this book as the glue between non-film-specific talk of writing and exposition vs. how-to-light-and-shoot nuts and bolts execution.

I'm in the finishing stages of a documentary for the Sunnyvale (CA) Historical Society about a small part of Silicon Valley's history. Having discovered the book only now, it's gratifying to read where what I did follows its advice, but even better where I have to admit that I didn't, and won't be doing it that way in my next project.

Because, as I watch more and more TV documentaries (and TV shows and movies for that matter) with an eye toward approaching their insanely high level of quality and artistry (I'm talking about the presentation here, that is, the art of filmmaking --- not necessarily the content!!), the kinds of things I'm learning square exactly with the kind of advice given in this book. I wish I'd read it years ago.

I'm at the stage where I'm beginning to realize that I can't do it all. Collaboration, hiring professionals from time to time, and actually trying to pitch a project rather than doing it all out of my own pocket, is probably in my future. The act of coming to that realization is I think part of becoming more professional. As is being unsentimental about throwing out stuff that doesn't work.

THESE are the kinds of points that this book makes (among many, many more)

Continuing to save up for the RED One camera, dare to dream ...
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