The Doc Fix

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the questions you might have about the methodology, how it works and whether it's a good fit for you. Please ask if you'd like to know more.

In conversation about how to apply these techniques, with examples from series such as F1: Drive to Survive, Natural History and many other styles and genres of TV programmes..




What's Different About This Method?

In essence I teach the ability to have an accurate and intuitive understanding of the structure of stories and the arguments they are making. With control over a story's structure, it becomes straightforward to control the meaning of the story and how you want it to impact your audience.

While having some concepts in common with storytelling approaches borrowed from drama, these methods are tailored to factual programming. Using specific techniques designed to understand the argument the story is making or attempting to make, you will be able to tackle all factual programmes.

I have used this approach on sports documentary series (F1: Drive to Survive, Sunderland 'Til I Die), Natural History shows (narrated by Sir David Attenborough), history, science, observational documentaries and more.

And the students I work with have subject matter that is even more varied.

It's important to clarify the difference between this approach and those taken wholesale from drama. In drama, the storyteller often begins with an idea and then tries to create reality that can express it. The factual programme maker begins with reality and, ideally, gives it meaning. The problem when trying to fix a factual programme that isn't working is the assumption that just because it looks real, it means something. Often it doesn't.

In many ways knowledge of structure in story is more important than storytelling techniques (and the difference between these two concepts will become clear). Using that knowledge as a foundation, it then becomes simple to recognise and manipulate essential elements such as acts, scenes, themes, genre and characters.

Tackling a story that doesn’t work (in the edit or on paper), you will be able to see the ‘personality’ of the programme, what it's trying to be, and how it's failing.

With practice, it is possible to view a piece of work and know exactly what it needs in real time. You can then plan the elements needed to make it work - whether filming new scenes or interviews, using archive, music, CGI or sound design. Because you have understood your film on such a deep level, there will be very few mistakes or trial and error. You will get your film working, and working well, very efficiently and on budget.
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