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Documentary Storytelling

Creative Nonfiction on Screen, 3rd Edition

By Sheila Curran Bernard, Sheila Curran Bernard

  1. ISBN: 9780240812410
  2. Publication Date: August 2010
  3. Format: Paperback
  4. Pages: 368
  5. Price:
    • $29.95 (USD)
    • £18.99 (GBP)
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Updated and improved, with new case studies and conversations with award-winning filmmakers including Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), James Marsh (Man on Wire), and Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes).

Documentary Storytelling has reached filmmakers and filmgoers worldwide with its unique focus on the single most important aspect of documentary media-making: storytelling. Drawing on the narrative tools of the creative writer, the unique strengths of a visual and aural media, and the power of real-world content truthfully presented, Documentary Storytelling offers advice for producers, directors, editors, and cinematographers seeking to make ethical and effective nonfiction films, and for those who use these films to educate, inform, and inspire. Special interview chapters explore storytelling as practiced by renowned producers, directors, and editors. This third edition has been updated and expanded, with discussion of newer films including Waltz with Bashir and Why We Fight.

Author Bio

Sheila Curran Bernard is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and the author of Documentary Storytelling, a best selling guide to story and structure in nonfiction filmmaking, and , a guide to using archival footage and material in films. Her archival film credits include the series Eyes on the Prize, I'll Make Me a World, This Far By Faith, America's War on Poverty, and School, for which she also co-wrote the companion book. She has taught at Princeton University and Westbrook College and recently joined the faculty of the University at Albany, State University of New York.


"Bernard's brilliant and effective Documentary Storytelling…aims to guide the Errol Morrises of tomorrow with great advice and practical knowledge that every documentarian would benefit from."--Backstage

"Storytelling--that's what this book is about. It's about the story, how to convey that story eloquently, effectively, and ethically…This book is absolutely brilliant."--Krista Galyen, AAUG Reviews


Chapter 1 Introduction

Part I Understanding Story

Chapter 2 Story Basics

Chapter 3 Finding the Story

Chapter 4 Story Structure

Chapter 5 Time on Screen

Chapter 6 Creative Approach

Chapter 7 Case Studies

Part II Working with Story

Chapter 8 Research

Chapter 9 Planning

Chapter 10 Selling

Chapter 11 Shooting

Chapter 12 Editing

Chapter 13 Narration and Voice Over

Chapter 14 Storytelling: A Checklist

Part III Talking about Story

Chapter 15 Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan

Chapter 16 Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes

Chapter 17 Ric Burns

Chapter 19 Brett Culp

Chapter 20 Alex Gibney

Chapter 21 Susan Kim

Chapter 22 James Marsh

Chapter 23 Sam Pollard

Chapter 24 Deborah Scranton

Part IV Additional Material

Sources and Notes


About the Author