Armed with an understanding of story, how do you apply it to an idea you have for a documentary? Suppose, for example, that you’re thinking of doing a film about Elvis Presley, a diner in your home town, or images of Islam in American popular culture. Something about the topic has caught your interest, and you think you want to take it to the next level.
First, ask yourself what it is about the topic that grabs you. As the initial audience for your film, your gut reaction to the subject is important. Chances are it wasn’t a sweeping notion of Elvis Presley that caught your attention, but an account, perhaps, of his time in the military. It’s not the fact that there’s a diner in your hometown, but that rising taxes ...