The Doc Fix

The Problem With Time

An in depth eBook explaining how chronology is not story


When constructing a documentary, there’s an almost gravitational pull towards using time as a structural template, at least at the beginning of the process. But very soon it becomes clear that this approach isn't going to work. The first inkling is that the film doesn’t yet mean very much, it’s all a bit dull. It can seem like a list.

How do you fix this?

When you look at any event in your own life, and you tell it as an anecdote, time becomes elastic. You may not do it consciously, but you pick events and describe them in a way that makes your story have the greatest impact.

In creating your story, the chronological order of events is largely irrelevant. The Problem with Time explores the harm of defaulting to chronology as an initial structure for your story, and some powerful alternative ways to think about structure and meaning.

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