The Documentary Handbook

Documentary films have enjoyed a huge resurgence over the last few years, and there’s a new generation of filmmakers wanting to get involved. In addition, the digital revolution has made documentaries even more accessible to the general filmmaker.


This brand new, fully-updated edition of The Documentary Film Makers Handbook features incisive and helpful interviews with dozens of industry professionals, on subjects as diverse as interview techniques, the NBC News Archive, music rights, setting up your own company, the Film Arts Foundation, pitching your proposal, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Documentary Channel, the British Film Council, camera hire, filmmaking ethics, and online marketing and distribution.


The book also includes in-depth case studies of some of the most successful and acclaimed documentary films of recent years, including The Cove, Babies, At the Edge of the World, Last Train Home and many more.


The Documentary Film Makers Handbook 2nd Edition is an essential resource for anyone who wants to know more about breaking into this exciting field.

The Documentary Film Makers Handbook is a continuation of the best selling series on narrative film, The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook. Written by Genevieve Jolliffe and Andrew Zinnes, The Documentary Film Makers Handbook pulls no punches and is THE ultimate guide to making your doc!

ISBN: 9781441183675, 528 Pages


Read the book

Read chapters from the Documentary Filmmakers Handbook, second edition.

Documentary Handbook Contents and inspirational quotes
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.6 MB
How to fund your documentary, from the Guerilla Film Makers Documentary Handbook
Adobe Acrobat Document 2.1 MB
How to distribute your documentary, from the Guerilla Film Makers Documentary Handbook
Adobe Acrobat Document 2.3 MB



American University - Pat Aufderhiede

Berkeley School of Journalism & documentary – Jon Else

Documentary Center - Nina Seavey

Sundance Labs – Cara Mertes



Setting Up A Company - Stephen Sheppard

Fair Use - Michael Donaldson

Music Rights - Brooke Wentz

The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers – Thomas A. Crowell


Research & Development

The Documentary Doctor - Fernanda Rossi

Finding Your Subject - Mark Harris, Kees Bakker

Ethics Researcher - Rosemary Rotondi

Archives - Nancy Cole;  Proposals - Morrie Warshawski

Open Pitching - Michellea McClean
Fundraising - Carol Dean


IDA – Michael Lumpkin
IFP-NY - Milton Tabbot
Docuclub - Susan Kaplan & Mary Kerr
San Francisco Film Society
Women Make Movies - Debbie Zimmerman


Doc Writing

Storytelling – Andrew Zinnes
Documentary Storytelling – Sheila Curran Bernard
Writing a treatment
Writing narration


Funding Bodies

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
Paul Robeson Fund - Ron Hanfd
ITVS - Claire Aguilar

NY State Council for the Arts - Karen Helmerson

California Documentary Project - Susana Loza

NEH - Michael Shirley

NEA - Ted Libbey

Niche Funding bodies – Hartley Film Foundation
Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund

Chicken and Egg Productions



WGBH - Denise Diianni

HBO - Nancy Abraham

Discovery Networks – Kevin Bennett

PBS – Paula Kerger

The Documentary Channel
National Geographic Channel - Heather Moran/Juliet Blake

MTV - Lisa Hackett

Sundance Channel - Christian Vesper;
CBC Documentary Unit/TransCanada Development Fund- Jerry McIntosh

The Documentary Channel - Michael Burns


Production Companies

National Geographic Feature Films – David Beal

POV - Simon Kilmurry

Independent Lens - Lois Vossen

Cactus 3 – Julie Goldman, Krysanne Katsoolis, Caroline Stevens

NFL Films/ NFL network - Steve Sabol

Areitis/ Reality TV – Paco Aguilar


Global Perspective

EDN - Cecilia Lidin

Channel 4 - Simon Dickson

The Channel Four BritDoc Foundation

Maxyne Franklin

Shooting People - Jess Search

BBC Storyville - Jo Lapping

ARTE; TV-2 - Mette Hoffmann Meyer

Finnish Film Foundation - Miia Haavisto

Israel & Palestine - Philippa Kowarsky

Thailand - Thunska Pansittivorakul

Mexico - Elena Fuentes

South America - Amir Lubacki

Australia - Wendy Halloway

Egypt – Tahani Rached

Saudi Arabia – Danya Alhamiani, Dania Nassiet

Eggdancer Productions; Nordic – Tobia Janson, Hanna Bjork Valsdotter

Italy – Raffaele Brunetti/ Italian Doc Screenings


Production & Post

Producer - Agi Orsi

Insurance - Kent Hamilton

Animation/CGI documentary

Producing the Non Profit Doc – Becky Rolnick

HD Camera Equipment – Cortney Webb/ Image Craft

DSLRS – Vincent Lafloret

DP - Joan Churchill

IMAX DP - Greg MacGillvray

Production Sound - Alan Barker

The Travel Doc Host - Ian Wright

The Lab - Russ Suniewyk

The Digital Lab - Larry Schmitt

The Editor - Paul Crowder

The Composer - Miriam Cutler

The Sound Mixer - Mark Rozett


Film Festivals & Marketing

Full Frame Film Festival

Silverdocs - Patricia Finnernan

Sundance - Caroline Libresco

HotDocs – Stephanie McArthur

Sheffield Documentary Film Festival – Charlie Philips

Film Festival World/documentary

IDFA - David Tiegler

The Producer’s Rep - Josh Braun

The Publicist - David Magdael

Marketing – Sheri Candler

Designing Your Website


Sales & Distribution

The Sales Rep - Jan Rofekamp/Film Transit

The Distributor - Zeitgeist Films

DVD Distribution - Ellen Capon

Education Distribution - Cynthia Close, DER

Boutique Distribution – BuzzTaxi Communications Natalie Vinet

Indie Theater - John Vanco

Museum Distribution - Bo Smith
Brave New Films - Robert Greenwald

DIY Distribution – Peter Broderick - Katy Chevigny

Distribution Models – Jon Reiss

Blogging – Around The Block (Doug Block)

IndieFlix, FilmBuff, Alive Mind, KinoSmith, SnagFilms


The Long View

The Detective - Nick Broomfield

Listen Up! - Michael Apted

Queen Of The Doc - Barbara Kopple

Seek The Truth - St. Clair Bourne

Actual Reality - R.J. Culter


Case Studies

Monica and David

The Cove

Paper Promises

Bad Writing


At the Edge of the World

BBC Earth

Hard Knocks


For Once in My Life

Last Train Home

12th & Delaware

Diary of a Times Square Thief

The Kids Grow Up

Short Documentary - Bout;

Short Documentaries – Eva Webber

Sean McAllister – Japan; A story of Love and Hate