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“Every documentary should begin as a blank sheet of paper or a canvas to paint upon. What colors you use and what format should come from a combination of you as an artist and the content of your story. Content should always dictate form, but you are in this equation as well and it will be your passion that drives this project. Five filmmakers could attempt the same topic for a documentary and each would most likely create a piece that only resembles the others by subject matter and that is as it should be. Find what excites you, then find your own means to express it.”
—Randal K. West, “Find Your Vision,” Videomaker, May 2006, p. 70.
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“The word documentary certainly suggests an interest in what is actual, what exists, rather than what one brings personally, if not irrationally, to the table of present-day actuality. Documentary evidence substantiates what is otherwise an assertion or a hypothesis or a claim. A documentary film attempts to portray a particular kind of life realistically; a documentary report offers authentication of what is otherwise speculation. Through documents themselves, through informants, witnesses, participants, through the use of the camera and the tape recorder, through letters or journals or diaries, through school records, court records, hospital records, or newspaper records, a growing accuracy with respect to a situation, a place, a person or a group of people begins to be assembled.”
—Robert Coles, Doing Documentary Work, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997, p.5.
WEBSITES
Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary
Interviews with documentary filmmakers—maybe the best site for budding documentary filmmakers.
documentaries.org
A showcase for new and existing documentary film, video, radio, and web-based projects.
Docurama
First video label dedicated exclusively to critically acclaimed and cutting-edge documentaries.
Docuseek
Search site for independent documentary, social issue, & educational videos in the U.S. & Canada.
International Documentary Association
THE organization for documentary; promotes nonfiction film/video around the world by supporting and recognizing efforts of documentary film/video makers; increasing public appreciation and demand for the documentary; and providing a forum for documentary makers, their supporters and suppliers.
Maysles Associates
Albert Maysles is one of the world's foremost documentary filmmakers of the past 40+ years.
National Film Board of Canada
A cultural agency within the Canadian Heritage Department. it was created by an act of Parliament in 1939. Its mandate, as set forth in the National Film Act, 1950, is “to produce and distribute and to promote the production and distribution of films designed to interpret Canada to Canadians and to other nations.”
Pennebaker Hegedus Films
D.A. Pennebaker, like Maysles, is one of the world's foremost documentary filmmakers of the past 40+ years. Chris Hegedus, his wife has also been a key figure in documentary over the past several decades.
The D-Word
Began as a series of journal entries depicting joy and angst of making and selling the feature documentary. It was meant to inform, inspire, humor and depress working or aspiring documentary filmmakers, or anyone else interested in the process, for that matter. Recently, The D-Word's focus has shifted to hosting documentary discussion forums online. Now everyone can inform, inspire, humor and depress the hell out of each other.

BOOKS

Directing the Documentary by Michael Rabiger. Focal Press
Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos by Alan Rosenthal. Southern Illinois University Press
Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen by Sheila Curran Bernard. Focal Press.