Documentary Production Overview
Whirlwind overview of documentary production so that we can position where paper-editing fits in.
Generally you would start with an idea, then you'd do some research, which may include research interviews to further define your story idea.
If you need funding or are working within an organization where you need to get some kind of buy in/approval before getting started, you might need to write a pitch and/or treatment describing what your story is going to look like, and why is worth making. Eg What do the audience get out of it.
This is followed by pre-production where you organise logistics for the filming scout and book locations, equipment, crew, contributors etc..
In Production you do the actual filming, interviewing contributors.
In post-production prep you organise all the footage that you have filmed. Depending on size and budget of the production you'd also get transcriptions and logs done.
at this stage is where the Paper-edit fits in. Using the transcriptions of video interviews.
In Post-production you assemble the paper-edit into a rough assembly video sequence. Iterate on it. Take it to a a rough cut stage by adding b-roll/cutaways and then all the way to a fine cut with further iteration.
When it's all done you can then move on to Delivery and distribution which will vary depending on the context of your project.
This is the ideal scenario, sometime these stages might overlap because of time and budget constraints.
  • Initial idea
  • Research
    • might include research interviews.
  • Pitch / Treatment writing.
  • Pre-production
    • organise filming, locations, book contributors, equipment, crew etc..
  • Production
    • actual filming
    • interviewing contributors
  • post-production prep
    • organise log and organise footage
    • transcribe interviews
  • Paper-edit
  • Post-production
    • video editing
  • Delivery and distribution
I would argue that in interview based productions paper-editing is where the magic happens. Some practitioners who skip this step might argue it's in the editing, or the interviewing etc.. I'd leave it for you to decide and tell me what you think after you have tried it for yourself by the end of the book.
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