Personally, I find documentaries are one of the best ways to share a story and have a big impact on the audience. Think about some of the big documentaries of the last couple of years and what changes they have brought upon.
A list by alive! names the following recent examples and says: “They cover events that impact the world around us and, sometimes, documentaries return the favor.”: Food, Inc., which changed how US people buy and eat food, Supersize Me: “McDonald’s can claim that media attention to Morgan Spurlock’s 30-day fast food binge didn’t have anything to do with the decision to stop super-sizing shortly before the release of his documentary about the experience, but come on.”, and the obviously also An Inconvenient Truth which gave the environmental cause a big bust.
Now that we know that documentaries can indeed change the world, let’s have a look at the how. The people from Spanner films (they brought us The Age of Stupid) don’t only make movies. They also teach how to make them. The event is called SWOTS and carries the catchy subtitle “Everything you need to know to make independent documentaries with no crew, commission or contacts … and still get 62 million viewers”. On the event (January 14 & 15 it’s going into its second round) in London the independent film cracks will tell you all about “making and distributing our blockbuster documentaries in some of the world’s most difficult places”, crowd-funding financing, and from subtitles to editing to screening. If you’re somewhere around there, check it out!
Why not make your own documentary?
A NGO which says the exactly same thing is WITNESS. The NGO “uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.” They simply want to give a tool for their work and have found it in a camera. The strategy behind it is called video advocacy: “the use of video as an integrated tool in human rights campaigns.” WITNESS also offers training and they are taking ethical concerns of the idea of having cameras everywhere seriously.
Maybe you’re not yet convinced and ready to start filming your own documentary. But I hope you’re at least ready to be part of the audience.