Documentary Vocabulary

All forms of filmmaking have a particular vocabulary that is necessary to know and understand.  Familiarize yourself with these terms so you can communicate clearly with your crew and others about your film and what you are attempting to achieve.  We will go over many of the more visual or cinematic terms a bit later in the course.

Archival Footage – Video clips from the past.

Assets  – the materials you’ll use to assemble your documentary (i.e. footage, dialogue, sound fx, music, etc.)

B-roll – supplementary footage used in and around the main shots or interviews.

Dialogue: conversations that take place between your subject

Factual – attempting to accurately relay information about something real or based on fact.

Footage – All of the visual material used in a film

Opinion – a personal belief or judgement, based on evidence that can be argued by another person without either party being wrong. (example – Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest film known to man)

Persuade – to cause to believe; convince

Point of View – sometimes referred to as a POV. This is the perspective from which your story is told.

Propaganda – A film with extreme bias that attempts to persuade the audience.

Re-enactment – a depiction of a real event created at a later time

Stock Footage – footage that is included in a film often shot by another filmmaker, not specifically intended for your film.

Subjects – the topics of the film or the people featured in the film.

Talent – Refers to the people or actors on screen.

Voice Over – using a recorded, off screen voice for narration, usually recorded at another point in time.