Aspiring documentary filmmakers or students almost always have no clue where to start when creating a strong documentary film proposal. But like any film pre-production prep, much of the requirements remain the same. The difference is that you’re gearing your proposal towards a film documentary instead of a film feature, television series or what not.

Whether you’re starting out as an independent documentary film creator or looking to find employment in a top video production company in New York or L.A. It’s a good idea to understand the basics and to gather up pointers on how you can up your documentary filmmaking prep. And this all starts by knowing how to craft a strong and reliable proposal.

What is a Documentary Film Proposal?

A film proposal is a written and visual representation of your film. It is your main gateway in attracting cast and crew to help come onboard with your project.

Crafting A Strong Documentary Film Treatment

Have a Clear Vision

Your proposal should give readers a clear image of what you want to achieve with your documentary. Don’t just tell them what your film is about or how it needs to be made but also make sure to emphasize why you are the right person to do it.

Create a Clear Structure

Documentaries are meant to capture real life but you still need to present it in a way that’s captivating for your audience. This is where good storytelling comes in. If you’re at a loss, it’s always good to stick to the basics like creating a three-act structure to provide your documentary proper construction.

Depict a Clear Picture of Your Story and Characters

As you present your film treatment, make sure describe and flesh out the characters included in your story. When doing character writing, remember it’s all about being specific. Your viewers and readers need to identify and like your characters. Remember, your documentary proposal serves as the “screenplay” for your project. Also, this is a good time to make sure all of the people in your documentary have agreed to be in your production.

Ground Your Issue with the Characters Involved

For documentary filmmakers, it’s easy to overlook the story for the issue. Keep your intent for creating the documentary film front and center. Ask yourself, “Why should people care about this?” Instead of bombarding viewers with facts, ground the story to the experiences of the people, the human beings, whose lives are affected or revolve around the issue you are trying to communicate.

When needed, always add the backstory or other elements that are important to the story or the characters you will be featuring in your documentary film. Showcase in your proposal, how you are going to communicate this to your audience. Be vivid and paint a clear visual so your readers can imagine what the documentary will be like.

Read and Revise Until You Are Happy with the Result

Take your time. Your proposal is a way for you to sort out what you want to present or say in your video or film documentary. It will help clarify your vision and communicate your intention to your eventual audience. Refine it until you are sure this is how you want to present the story.

Writing a strong documentary film proposal for your video production or film project means paying attention to how you present your story and issue. Be clear, concise and present your vision with confidence and honesty.

Whether it’s creating your personal documentary film or working for an established video or film company service, knowing how to communicate using your documentary proposal will bring you one step ahead of everyone else.