So, what’s is a micro documentary anyway? It’s a short film in documentary style, which is anything from a couple of minutes in length, up to ten minutes. They get to the point quickly and are impactful, making them a great way for documentary filmmakers to quickly and effectively communicate with their audience.
How are they changing the face of digital documentary filmmaking?
Gone are the days where consumers have time to sit and watch hours of documentary on one subject. Granted, feature length documentaries still have their place, but watching one is a big investment of time, and people don’t have that time anymore. Micro docs are taking over when it comes to information delivery; they give you what you want in five minutes. People have five minutes – they don’t have an hour. They are used to consuming information in short, snappy packages. They can be watched over a tea break, on a train or on the toilet. In this day and age, where we are so time poor, being able to get the information you need in your five minutes of dead time, is important and critical to understand if you have a story to tell.
Micro-docs probably feature more in your life than you’ve realised. If you scroll through your feeds on Facebook and Instagram, I guarantee you will come across one. They are becoming more and more prevalent as a tool for marketing as well. Consumers in 2017 don’t respond to direct and aggressive marketing. We no longer want to be told to buy something. We want to be given information; to be informed and excited about a product, so we can make our own decisions. Micro documentaries are an excellent way of marketing products, marketing brands and marketing lifestyles, and more and more organisations are using them as a tool. They give you the information, and you make the decisions.
How do they grab our attention?
How many times have you started watching a video on Facebook and then scrolled past it because it didn’t get to the point quickly enough? Yeah, we do it all the time too. If you’re going to dedicate minutes of your life watching a video, you need to suspect it’s going to be worth it. Micro-docs grab our attention right away. Within the first few moments, they’ve given us enough information to decide whether we want to keep watching. They pump you with information right from the get go, so you are hooked and you carry on viewing. They pique our interest. Because of their nature, they make excellent learning materials. Take a look at our post on Introducing Documentaries In The Classroom.
What does this mean for documentary filmmakers?
This new way of digital documentary filmmaking gives greater freedom to filmmakers. It means a film can be as long as it needs to be. There is no need to flesh out a short documentary to make it up to feature film length, and this new way is giving the green light to filmmakers to produce films at their natural length. It also means documentary filmmakers need to think more carefully about their content. It needs to be engaging, it needs to move fast and it needs to deliver. Just as much thought will go into producing a six-minute documentary, as goes into a sixty minute documentary. Remind yourself of our top Documentary Tips if you are feeling a bit rusty, or are thinking about your next documentary project.