Chapter 8 Research

Good documentary storytelling, with some exceptions, depends on good research. This is true for what may seem like a surprising range of filmmaking styles. In an interview with Jason Silverman, filmmaker Alan Berliner describes working on his personal documentary The Sweetest Sound, in which he invites 12 people with his name to dinner: “I began where I always begin, with a tremendous amount of research, with a passion to understand the total landscape of whatever subject I’m entering.” Susan Froemke and assistants at Maysles Films, the noted vérité company, spent about six months researching poverty and looking for potential stories in several states, including Wisconsin, Maine, Iowa, and Missouri, before they settled on the ...

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