The Doc Fix

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Regularly updated articles on story structure and analysis; tips, thoughts and useful bits and pieces.

Why this program might not be for you

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As I was designing this programme, I had in my mind an 'ideal' student. Someone who I could understand as I had gone through the same things.

But one of the joys of working with so many documentary makers, and potential documentary makers, is that I've met such a variety of personalities. And, of course, I've learned a lot (and am still learning). It means I can design and adapt to different needs.

I thought it might be interesting for you if I categorise the kind of storytellers we have on board.

Making a move from short to longer-form:
​There are people with us who have quite a bit of experience in short form. This means commercials, corporate, short films of all sorts.

But when I’ve spoken with them, it's clear they are concerned that their way of working won't work when they step up to longer-form - 30 mins, 50 mins series and features.

Their instincts are correct, on the whole.

There is an energy that can take you through a short project. Impressive moments that can build to a feel that works. But as it’s short form, their audience aren't looking for a meaningful idea, and it's hard to find something short repetitive.

Often these film makers love documentaries but are unsure how to use their skills to build a longer, meaningful narrative. And they realise how time consuming mistakes can be.

Long-form makers who find themselves drowning in material:
​This is very common.

It can be a way to work - go out and shoot your material and try and discover your story as you film. Of course, it might not be as extreme as this, but certainly, there is an element of winging it or relying on instinct.

As I said, this does cover a range of people.

From more novice documentary makers who have found themselves in a position to create a documentary, gone off and shot and find themselves stuck. We also have very experienced filmmakers who have succeeded in doing very good work.

But even they realise the advantage of designing and structuring the narrative of their documentaries when they need to.

For instance, when budgets get smaller, and they don't have those many months to find their film, or when they just want to live a more relaxed life and not live on their wits all the time.

First Time Film Makers:
​Some students with us have made very little but have an idea they are desperate to share with the world. They know what they have is important but have no idea how to get it out there.

There was a quote that a friend sent me from Maya Angelou "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you".

Sadly, if you find yourself in this position, you may convince yourself that it can't be told and then let it die. But it need never happen.

Instead, you can learn exactly how to tell it.

Of course, The Doc Fix is designed to give all these students the complete set of tools a factual storyteller needs to work with.

They have been refined from universal storytelling concepts taken from drama and documentary, based on how stories work. We work quickly to give you these tools so that you will never be overwhelmed by your idea. You will find a way to make the story work.

And with them you can begin to look at techniques you have used in the past, wherever they have come from and either keep using them or adjust them when they don't work.

You'll really understand the why of the story, not just the how.

And these skills will be with you however far you choose to go in the industry.

Maybe you fit into one of these groups? But, of course, I don't mean to exclude anyone. Just drop me an email and let me know where you are, and we can discuss if this is right for you.

Nigel
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