Creating the future of documentaries


The February issue of Inside Film magazine focuses on the state of industry in documentaries. An article DOC2012 examines the shape of documentaries in Australia over the next 7 years. The piece quotes me as follows:

The potential impacts of digital media are broad. Media strategy consultant and chairman of the Future Exploration Network, Ross Dawson, believes the growing access Australians have to low-cost, high-quality video recording is creating a plethora of potential documentary content.

“It starts to get the Australian population at large documenting what they feel is interesting or pertinent about their lives and what they experience,” Dawson says. “This can lead to an extraordinarily rich repository of what is happening in Australia, which is a resource for documentary makers.”

The rise of internet-based social networks is creating communities of interest that may become a new form of funding. By tapping into a niche audience or issue online it may be possible for a filmmaker to more easily raise the capital to make their production.

There are many ways in which new technologies are likely to transform documentary making. As more and more high-quality cameras become available, there will be more footage that will be invaluable in documenting our life and times. Most people will be happy to make available their video content for use in documentaries. We just need better mechanisms to match videographers (all of us) with those that wish to use that footage. In the last paragraph above I was referring to approaches such as Swarm of Angels, which are arguably more relevant to documentaries than feature films. Documentaries are often of interest to particular groups, who can not only choose to support the creation of something they will want to see, but may also actually profit from it. In short, social media platforms are likely to have far more impact on the future of documentaries than on more mainstream content such as feature films.