The present and future of post production business and technology

How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?

How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?

I’ve been sitting on this article for a while, waiting for a gap in the Final Cut Pro X “noise” to post it.

Yes, it is true that we’ve just had one of the best years for documentary ever. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t also more negative issues for the mode than ever before. The thing is, there are so many kinds of non-fiction films and so many kinds of doc enthusiasts that we all have very different answers for the following question: what one thing could change for the better for documentaries?

With that starting point, author Christopher Campbell, asks that very question and got an interesting variety of answers. Docs need to be:

  • more entertaining;
  • without the stigma that “documentaries” aren’t entertaining;
  • sold based on the stories that unfold within the doc, rather than that it is a documentary;
  • embracing “value added programming”;
  • seen more in commercial theaters;
  • financed by studios more (or Netflix);
  • more facile at strategic screenings;
  • used to fight corporate legal pressures;
  • have less dependency on interviews;
  • comprised of fewer “illustrated essays”;
  • seeking more objective consultants.

There are variations on these topics in the article and there it’s possible to also see who made each of the suggestions.

If I had to make a guess, I think version one of Final Cut Pro X may be better suited to “documentary” production than narrative. I wouldn’t have wanted to cut a feature on Final Cut Pro 1 either!





2 responses to “How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?”

  1. Markus

    “I wouldn’t have wanted to cut a feature on Final Cut Pro 1 either!”

    Well, I don’t think with Final Cut Pro X we’re starting back at square one again. With 10 years of experience in the field of NLE, I can’t imagine Apple is going to turn in a product like FCP 1….

  2. It takes time to build good software and you can’t rush it. Adding more engineers takes more time, not less (read The Myth of the Man Month for why) so it could be that the decision ultimately came down to “do we ship something great now, and add features too it” vs “do we keep everyone guessing, and not using our newer productivity tools for longer, so we can release something feature complete in another 18 months”.

    Which would you do. As a software developer I’m definitely of the “ship something useful now and add to it as soon as we can” school.

    One, unconfirmed report had a lack of Multicam in FCP X v1. No Log and Capture but that’s for entirely different reasons. I guess we’ll see how feature complete it is when it’s released.