Based On A True Story: Choosing Doc or Narrative
When is a true story best told as a documentary film, and when as a narrative "based on a true story"? What are the creative implications, the ethics considerations, and the business realities of each? Or is it a false choice? This panel brings together filmmakers who have told “true stories” in both genres – often blurring the lines between them -- to discuss their experiences, their preferences, and their approach to new material. Matt Naylor has screened documentary work at SXSW, but transitioned into a fictional short – based on a true story -- for last year’s festival. Alex Karpovsky has directed pure docs, a surprising hybrid in WOODPECKER, and acted in movies and TV shows that use doc-style scenes and improvisational dialogue to blur the lines. Richard Linklater is a master narrative filmmaker who made a foray into documentary with his film INNING BY INNING and recently wrote and directed BERNIE – a narrative feature that employs doc-style technique - based on a very true story.
Additional Supporting Materials
- What is “true”? How far does “based on” allow you stray in narrative? How much can documentary be manipulated until it becomes hybrid or fictional?
- What defines “doc-style” filmmaking vs. documentary filmmaking -- and how is it being employed in narrative films?
- What's the best way to get the right to tell a specific true story? What's the difference between getting the legal rights to a true story for doc vs. narrative?
- Can/should the difference in funding models for doc and narrative drive decisions about what genre to pursue with your true story? Is either one “easier”?
- How are docs and narrative impacted by the subject’s involvement in the filmmaking process, or the distribution/marketing process?
Matt Naylor Flow Nonfiction
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