Expand your knowledge of documentary filmmaking, get active and connect with other filmmakers and resources with these helpful links.
Below are books and links that we often recommend to those who ask us for resources on documentary filmmaking.
A New History of Documentary Film by Jack C. Ellis and Betsy A. McLane Continuum Intrnational Publishing 2005.This is a thorough and definitive survey/history of documentary films. Concentrating mainly on the output of the US, the UK, and Canada, the authors outline the origins of the form and then show its development over the next several decades. The book is completely up-to-date in discussing films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, and in its coverage of IMAX movies and the development of cable and satellite television outlets.Written in a simple, chronological format, the text is straightforward and full of content, information, and historical perspective. (There is hardly any academic jargon or high-level theory.) Each chapter concludes with a list of the key documentaries in that particular time period or genre, and there are helpful appendices listing all the winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, as well as the winners of the Grierson Award.
Introduction to Documentary by Bill Nichols. Important documentary film scholar that comprehensively, but succinctly covers the issues surrounding documentary history and criticism.
Clearance & Copyright 2nd Edition by Michael Donaldson.Now extensively revised, updated, and expanded, this well-written, legalese-free guide provides filmmakers with essential advice on almost every conceivable rights issue they may encounter: from the initial acquisition of material through the rights situations that arise in pre production, production, post production, and final release.
Documentary Filmmakers Speak by Liz Stubbs. A series of thirteen interviews from documentary filmmakers such as Nick Broomfield to Albert Maysles.
For Documentary: Twelve Essays by Dai Vaughan. A series of essays ranging from the influence of early-documentary filmmaking to digital filmmaking's influence and possible destruction of the documentary form.
Lies, Damn Lies and Documentaries by Brian Winston. Covers many ethical issues surrounding documentary filmmaking especially in regard to contemporary television forms.
Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film by Erik Barnouw.A compassionate and ethical history of documentary films providing such breadth that most people will want to reread several times to absorb Barnouw's rich historical information.
Documentary Film Classics by William Rothman, J. Dudley Andrew, and Henry Breitrose. Analysis of important documentaries that have defined the field of documentary filmmaking.
Transcultural Cinema by David MacDougall, Lucien Taylor (Editor). A collection of essays on the history of visual anthropology and issues surrounding the field. Important are the challenges to thinking that visual anthropology is just a visual record of traditional ethnography.
The Documentary Tradition by Lewis Jacobs (Compiler). A survey of the development and achievements of documentary films from the 1920s to 1970. The books includes the writings of nearly 100 filmmakers and critics.