Filmmaking and real life

FILMMAKING: Tony Stark's practical and accessible guide to creating non-fiction content for television, online or social media.

Astra Zoldnere
Zoldnere is a Latvian film director, curator and publicist. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: July 28, 2020
The Insiders’ Guide to Factual Filmmaking
Author: Tony Stark

Once, while in film school, I was wandering through old Tallinn together with my camerawoman. We were both carrying heavy filming equipment and concentrating on finding good shots for our homework. Some locals approached us and asked what we were up to. Having realized that we were filmmakers, they offered to take us up on a big construction tower. On the way, our guides expressed many clichéd opinions about the bohemian lifestyle we, as artists, should be leading. We were laughing because our directing and cinematography studies were extremely intense, filled with 12-hour shooting days and worries about financing our graduation film. Our philosophical wine evenings were far less common than the stormy parties thrown by economics and natural science students from our dormitory.

The Insiders’ Guide to Factual Filmmaking by filmmaker Tony Stark also brings the often mythological and idealized profession of filmmaking down to earth. The book offers very pragmatic tips on how to do a TV and online documentary film in a very competitive market, starting from idea proposal and continuing through its shooting and financing. There are many juicy quotes from interviews with 19 British and American industry professionals. For some art-house filmmakers, the book might seem a bit dry as it only briefly discusses filmmaking from its creative side. However, it could serve aspiring filmmakers and starting directors as a source of good advice for some phase of their work and a reminder not to make simple but common mistakes.


With the development of digital technology and younger audiences switching from television to online media, filmmaking is changing completely. On the one hand, making a movie is now easier than ever. If the content is good and the filmmaker is talented, a film can be made with a smartphone and cut with free editing software. Also, there is a high demand for content, as a lot of traditional media are now putting videos online, and even radio stations have starting to make visualizations. However, this development makes budgets lower, and filmmakers are expected to do much more. Freelance filmmakers enter a highly competitive market and are often supposed to be producers, directors, cinematographers, and editors all in one. It’s hard to get a commissioned film from a TV broadcaster, but making a …

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