Four reasons as to why making documentaries is such a pain in the ass.
1. You need to do research
For some reason, people seem to expect that documentaries need to be journalistically researched. No harm in that – more knowledge will not hurt you – but there IS a risk of reality ruling over fantasy and no real film needs that. (Besides, it sounds like a lot of work).
2. You need to convince other people about the importance of your project.
That goes for every film, of course, but in the documentary world the topic itself must be of interest to the commissioning editors. Well, no harm in that, but like a fiction film is not the same as its script, so is a documentary film so much more (or should be) than its topic.
3. You cannot make a living of making documentaries.
That’s okay; my wife has a real job. So no real harm in that for me - as long as no one files for divorce.
4. You cannot make fun of anything.
Use of humor equals insincerity and shallowness and is neither artistically nor journalistically viable. That’s just the way it is and always has been with people of the right and true faith (be it a religion or a specific school of filmmaking). No harm in that… oops… well, maybe just a bit, because lack of humor, satire or self-irony in my mind equals a risk of one-sided depictions of reality, self-righteousness and even propaganda. Docs should be multi-facetted, ambiguous and thought-provoking, and deliberate use of humor is a wonderful tool for just that (Did I say “tool”? I meant “fool”).
So all in all, I can live with up to three out of the four truisms above. Guess which one I cannot accept.