Madeleine Hetherton: Top Tips for Documentary Filmmaking

Madeleine Hetherton's top tips for documentary filmmaking.

Madeleine Hetherton tutor of the brand-new AFTRS Open course Social Impact Doco Masterclass on 11 - 12 November and gave us her  top tips for documentary filmmaking:

1. You need to have a character who has a lot to say or you’re in trouble!   

2. It’s all story telling - fiction, non-fiction. Both borrow heavily from each other, there are few rules that have not been broken. Just tell a great story.  

3. Find inspiration from watching great documentaries.  

4. Always do a check of your gear - before you arrive at a location, better yet, do it the day before.  

5. Sound is at least 50% of your story - don’t compromise on your recording. Remember to get a 60 second atmosphere at the end of every interview - it will save you in the edit!  

6. Review, Review, Review. You must watch your rushes at the end of every day of your shoot - you will discover all the things you missed and you will celebrate all the great things you filmed. But unless you watch it, you cannot be sure you have it.  

7. Some of your worst mistakes will be your greatest teachers. Learn to take the long term view.  

8. Seek the truth, be brave and go for it!

Madeleine Hetherton is tutor of the Social Impact Doco Masterclass on 11 - 12 November in Sydney


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.