Common mistakes made by neophyte documentary filmmakers

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Not all films make good returns in the box office, nor are they always given positive ratings by professional critics. For budding filmmakers, especially those who specialize in documentaries, they should bear a number of things in mind before, during, and after they create their work. The following are common mistakes that amateur filmmakers commit:

Vagueness of vision. A documentary film can be shown in a number of outlets: cinemas, television, the Web, schools, in the household, or direct to DVD. If the filmmakers are not certain who their target audiences are or where they would want to screen their project—say, constrained with factors such as lack of distribution deal or budgetary concerns—they could never have a successful release because they will have trouble adjusting the tone, language, and overall quality of their output.

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Underestimating the value of a trailer. As with any other film, a trailer is vital to increase a documentary’s marketability. Many amateur filmmakers do not release trailers because they think that “curiosity and mystery” will be enough to drive audiences to screening venues. Idealism can never do good to any form of business, but creativity and honesty will.

Featuring too much interview footage. A typical documentary may only feature less than 10 people, complete with their introductory profiles and dialogue highlights. More than this number can spoil the quality of the film and might even cause confusion amongst audiences.

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Samantha Pouls is a junior high school student who is interested in the intricate process of filmmaking. This Facebook page can provide more updates of the other activities she loves being involved with.