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Jonathan Spear

Documentary vs. Narrative/Feature Film

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I'm going to study cinematography and directing and I am primarily interested in feature films. Thing is, the college that accepted me only focuses on documentary style filmmaking. They call it "social filmmaking". I asked the woman who heads the department if the program could include narrative filmmaking in the future, she said not a the moment. I could be 100% wrong here, but it seems that studying the art of documentary films for the next 3-4 years has nothing to do with the type of movies I hope to be working on some day.


Will I get the skills I need to work on a feature film set from a college that focuses solely on documentaries -- or will this be a waste of time and money?




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They are different, but people in the past have crossed over into feature films. How much you learn on the course that will carry over into feature films will depend on the approach of the tutors and the nature of the course. Some documentaries do have a cinematic style, while others are more basic.

Edited by Brian Drysdale
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Absolutely no waste. The dry and hard documentary school, once famous from America, is the best base for an observing eye and patience in your soul. I believe these are things that might contribute to your standing out of the mass.


From the technical standpoint, too: having experienced night shoots, behavior of gear in the cold or sizzling under the sun plus problems arising from simple misunderstandings or so will drop-forge you to a filmmaker.


Not to forget editing. It is a whole different task to cut 45 astonishing minutes out of rolls of non-repeatable images compared to the assembly of takes after script and production scheme. Fear of being a coward? You are in that college, so pull it! No one will be able to steal it from you afterwards.

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