In Hands on a Camera, community is not seen as being merely geographical. We define community as any group of people that shares something in common: a common interest, common belief, common hobby, common difficulty, etc.

Every person belongs to many different communities, and each community has a story to tell.


Finding Your Story

So you want to make a documentary; now what? The very first step in making any kind of documentary is finding a great story.

Start by thinking about the communities you belong to: neighborhood, school, work, church, sports, music—it can be anything.

Why are these communities important to you? What is unique about these communities? What do you like or dislike about them?

Choose a community that you think has potential for a great story.

Asking and answering questions will help you get to the heart of your story.


• What is the essence of this community?

• What do its members have in common?

• What should an outsider know about this community?

• What is your favorite thing about this community?

• What is your least favorite thing about this community?

• What are the characteristics of a typical member of this community?

• What elements of this community should never be left out of a story about it?


Once you’ve decided on a community and a general story, look for ways to focus your story.


• Is there a specific person you know that could represent the whole community?

• What things do people in this community do?

• Could you document a process?

• What is the most interesting thing about the community?

• Could you show it in five minutes or less?


Choosing a Medium

Once you’ve decided on a story, it’s time to move into the production phase. In Hands on a Camera, we make three kinds of documentaries: video documentaries, photo documentaries, and audio documentaries. Each has a slightly different feel, and your story may be more suited to one than it is to another (for example, an audio documentary might not be the best way to tell a story about mimes). Click on the pages below to find out more about theses different types of documentaries and for tips on creating them.












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