5 Reasons Why It's Good to Study Documentary Filmmaking - Raindance

1. A violinist needs to study violin playing


You don’t just go out and buy a violin and then get a booking to perform the Bruch concerto at the Royal Albert Hall. Call me old-fashioned but I kind of think it’s useful to study your craft before you go out to do it, and yet I meet countless people who believe that just because they’ve watched a few documentaries that they know to make films. And of course they’re right if the films that they make really resonate with an audience, however so many of the films that I watch from untrained filmmakers just don’t cut it.

2. To make films that an audience would pay money to see

Anyone can pick up a camera, shoot something and then upload it to Vimeo – however can you make a film that an audience would pay money to watch, or a major film festival would programme? A bit of practical film education from the right circles can help you achieve that. When I teach filmmaking or do a consultation with a filmmaker I use the same rules that I myself use as a documentary filmmaker – for the sole reason that they work.

3. To feel less alone


There seems to be a culture in documentary filmmaking today of going it alone – “I can make films on my own”; “I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do.” And yet the proof is in the pudding – if you’re not getting your films exhibited at the places that you want them shown then perhaps it’s time to get a bit of training. And in the process of reaching out for help I’ve seen so many first time filmmakers creatively blossom in front of me as they realise that they don’t have to do everything alone.

4. You might blow it otherwise

With each film comes amazing opportunities and serendipitous moments – however I’ve seen too many potentially great films fail because of basic flaws in their conception and/or execution. And trust me these are flaws that even the best editor in the world could never sort out.

5. It’s a good investment


As we all know filmmaking isn’t cheap so if you do your research and find the right short course you might not only make better films and become a better filmmaker but you could save yourself a ton of money in the long run.



BA (Hons) Film & TV London College of Printing, Raindance MA in Film . Col is an award-winning writer/director who started in non-fiction at the BBC and now works primarily in fiction: writing and directing feature films for the cinema. He also runs his own documentary consultancy business. You can learn from Col in person at the Raindance Documentary Foundation Certificate.