11The Fundamentals of Narrative

The fundamentals of documentary storytelling are simple. Whether an audience consciously recognizes it or not, they expect to see three things: characters, conflict, and progression. Every documentary will utilize these three elements in different ways, and may emphasize one element more than the others, but they are always there.

image Characters

As you’re trying to determine which characters will emerge as primary ones and which will be left on the cutting room floor, a simple fact stands clear: great documentary subjects have undeniable charisma and presence. They draw your attention. To use an old-fashioned term, ...

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