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Great Documentary Websites

August 20th, 2009 · No Comments

Freelance writer Amanda Hirsch, former editorial director of PBS Interactive, blogs about documentaries and the Web in her column, Outside the Frame.

Very good article that every documentary filmmaker should read before creating a website for their film. Her first point is crucial to follow…

1) Plan Early — Plan for your website at the outset of the filmmaking process, therefore integrating website production costs (such as digital rights clearances and web production staff) into your production budget and fundraising process. Translation: your website is not an afterthought, either financially or creatively. If you plan for your site upfront, you’ll be ready to launch the site early enough to build an audience for your film before its release (and your site will have enough search engine visibility to continue attracting new interest).

Her list goes on… I have a few suggestions too.

  1. If you are shooting a documentary you will digest well over 100 hours of footage. While you are logging clips think about using some of the material as a vlog or a simple weekly update to your website. For instance; if you shoot an entire town hall meeting use about 5 good minutes of footage from that and show your viewers what the documentary is about. As an editor you will only use about 10-20 seconds of that footage in the entire documentary. Don’t worry about “giving away” the story before you edit the final version. This will allow your audience to comment and be a part of the documentary.
  2. Hire a social networking guru. Not a person that tells everybody to friend them but someone that posts relevant material that will draw and audience to your documentary. Use Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon to name a few. This will be a full time job. If done correctly will be one of the main reasons for success. Unless your a terrible filmmaker… “I’m Just Saying!

What kind of suggestions do you have as far as building a website for a documentary?

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