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Field Guide to: Character-Driven Documentary

This kind of documentary aims to take the audience into someone else’s world.

The narrative is based on a main character, or a particular location and we see the events play out as they happen.

The filmmaker might ask the subjects questions or construct the narrative around the characters’ own words.

Typically, the director shoots more than one hundred hours of footage and then constructs the story in the edit.

Some TV channels can be reluctant to commission this type of programme as it is expensive and time-consuming to produce in comparison with more formatted shows.

Many independent documentary filmmakers opt to raise funds through alternative routes and submit their films into the festival circuit in the hope they will find an audience. Acquisitions buyers might buy the rights to show the finished films on TV.

Explore more factual TV formats:

Constructed documentary

Presenter-Led Documentary Series


Drama Documentary .

Point of View Documentary

Immersive Documentary

Observational Documentary Series

Factual Entertainment



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