Affordable digital cameras, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and video distribution sites like YouTube and Vimeo have all opened the door to a generation of new independent documentary filmmakers.
Many of today’s documentary filmmakers are making bold stylistic choices more often associated with narrative storytelling than documentary filmmaking and finding savvy new ways to engage audiences. By pushing the boundaries of what is considered traditional documentary filmmaking, they are stepping up to compete for the eyes of a generation raised on the often outrageous, unfiltered and unedited user-generated videos that can be found on YouTube and the conflict driven scripted Reality television that fills TV networks.
I’m seeing a number of trends with younger, up-and-coming filmmakers. One is filmmakers pursuing hybrid strategies, in which documentaries are inflected with elements more commonly found in fiction films. Alma Har’el’s documentary, Bombay Beach, is a great example. She visited the town of Bombay Beach, got to know its residents, and then, while documenting their day-to-day lives, worked with them to create dance and fantasy sequences that attest to these subjects’ own imaginative, creative lives.
I’ve posted many of these indie documentaries on my short flim blog Chroma Feed.