1. Start off with a big bang
Introductions mean a lot in documentaries. They set the stage for what’s about to come. The intro can either turn the viewer on, having them beg for more, or can work against the film by boring the $!%$ out of the audience.
Searching for Sugarman begins with the controversial story of how Rodriguez killed himself. Some say it was a gun to the head, some say it was the most gruesome suicide in history, where he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of an audience. The beginning of this documentary in incredibly captivating, you can’t turn it off or switch the channel. You desperately want to know what happens. A sign of a great story is you can’t turn away because it’s so spellbinding.
2. Introduce Controversy
K2 is one of the deadliest mountains the world, far more dangerous to climb than Everest, for every four people who summit K2, one dies trying. This is the story of the fateful day 11 climbers never returned home from K2. One of the deadliest expeditions in mountain climbing history.
There are conflicting stories on how some people made it off K2 that fateful day, not every agrees to what happened. Were some people hero’s? Or were they just trying to be selfish. In desperate times, people do some strange things.
You can’t help but be at the edge of your seat the entire time the movie plays. The camera shots, the epic story that changes back and forth, and the mysticism around this life altering mountain that is so very hard to summit.
3. Tell an emotional story that pulls on people’s heart strings
Whenever a movie or documentary comes out that features animals, it’s hard not to get emotional. Yeah, I cried in Babe, Homeward Bound, and maybe The Lion King, didn’t everyone?
We have a natural (biological) tendency to care for babies and animals (and animal babies). When a documentary like Blackfish comes out you know it’s going to be an emotional ride but what you don’t know about is how these beautiful creatures are treated in captivity. It’s horrible. It’s hard to watch. You’re going to get emotional.
The good news is is that this documentary actually is influencing change in how the public views SeaWorld. Several articles have touched on the protests and how angry people are over SeaWorld, and even a bill introduced in California that could introduce the end of Killer Whale shows in the state as well as importing and exporting Killer Whales.
All of these documentaries can be found on Netflix. I strongly encourage you to watch.
To recap, telling a compelling story in the media, to a friend, on your website, in a video, in an article, remember these three things:
1. Start off with a bang
2. Introduce controversy
3. Pull on peoples heart stings.