10 reasons why making documentaries is better than making fiction films


Peter Broderick, who helps filmmakers “explore uncharted frontiers and avoid dangerous pitfalls and predators,” gave a wonderful talk this morning at Sheffield Doc/Fest, one of the many gems in his presentation was his list of ten reasons why making documentaries is better than making fiction films:

10. Grants and Donors
9. Partnerships with non-profits and NGOs
8. Utility for viewers
7. Significant mailing lists and rich websites to partner with for outreach
6. Semi-theatrical and educational opportunities
5. Multiple versions are possible
4. Built-in core audience
3. Core audience trumps festivals and critics
2. Benefits of urgency, and
1. Possibly changing the world!

He nailed it! This list reminds me of some of the factors that lead me to start making my own documentaries after having worked as a freelancer for fiction, documentary and industrial works. Peter Broderick’s writings are highly recommended, as is joining his mailing list. I’ve really enjoyed the crossover sessions at the festival, more on some of them when I have time to write.


  1. says

    Zak, yes, you are right, for the most part, but given the increasing number of docs shot with DSLRs and cinema cameras, the gap narrows…

  2. Mary says

    Plus, you learn about the real world — and you never know how things will turn out. More rewarding, for me, anyway. Thanks for sharing.