Create and Film Your Own TV Documentary Series: Important Do’s and Don’ts

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For those of you who are startup documentary filmmakers interested in the idea of creating and filming your own TV Documentary Series, here are some tips and insights from Jodi Cilley.

Jodi Cilley is a long time filmmaker, entrepreneur, and educator. She has been teaching video production since 2004 and has taught video and editing at multiple facilities. Jodi has produced over a hundred projects, including web series, short films, TV specials, documentaries, and commercial projects. Recently, Jodi produced Film Indiego, a 6-Part TV series for KPBS. In her roles as the founder and current president of the Film Consortium San Diego, and the founder and producer of both San Diego Film Awards and San Diego Film Week, Jodi hopes to build a strong local film industry and to increase exhibition, distribution, funding and employment opportunities for local up and coming film talent.

Create and film your own TV Documentary Series

3 Important Do’s

  1. Figure out where you are going to or would like to distribute your TV Documentary series before you even start making it. Learn about that distributor, start building a relationship with them, and know what kind of content they are likely to put on their platform.
  2. Choose a unique topic that is visual, you care about, and have a lot of access to or understanding of.
  3. Try to choose a topic that has a built-in audience to insure there are people who will want to watch your documentary series.

3 Important Don’ts

  1. Don’t try to wing it. Come up with at least a general plan or even a detailed outline and script for your documentary TV Series so that you can minimize the time spent shooting and editing.
  2. Don’t forget how important good sound is to the finished product. Sound is 1/2 of the film and bad sound can really diminish the experience of watching your film, and it can limit interest others may have for broadcasting it or accepting it into film festivals.
  3. Don’t think you can do it alone. Filmmaking is a team sport, and it’s nearly impossible to be good at everything. Figure out what you aren’t very good at and bring people onto your team who can handle those aspects of production for you.