CT&D #79. Documentary Production: Feasibility

Below is a summary of feasibility towards producing a documentary based on a sample thesis abstract by a college student covering social media misuse (no link is available to view it however):

Original Proposal – Paraphrased Summary:

I have decided to film businesspeople in a boardroom as part of my strategy in producing a documentary for a student’s abstract on social media misuse. Given the issue that the thesis focuses on is social media not being properly utilized by businesses and organizations for statistical purposes, it is important to show businesspeople and those unaffiliated with how similar or how different every approach is in formulating a decision behind utilizing or not utilizing the tool. Thus, the audience of whom my documentary is targeting (towards understanding my visual approach of filming) will be  crucial in demonstrating support in favor of or perhaps against the student’s claim that social media is not fully taken advantage of by businesses for their own financial benefit. 

Filming the behaviors and actions of what goes on within a company or business is not too commonplace; however, this unconventional format will allow for the answering of questions raised by the thesis (i.e. What stigma or why is there such associated with social media that makes it the target of “superficial” and / or “token” use?) by examining the revealing behaviors the lead to a business determining its decision on the matter. Equally important would be making the documentary engaging and to shed light on the decision-makers to give viewers a different angle or perspective (or to elicit a reaction from the audience; maybe this “feedback” will convince companies to reconsider their treatment of neglecting social media use and matters beyond this area. The student in his thesis even claims that “specific information is being kept away from the public.” Why not challenge this statement and film the response this?


Looking at my thesis proposal, I very strongly feel that it is a solid concept that can be realistically executed without compromising the vision of the student’s assertions in the abstract. Despite worries of the focus on the social media issue itself being lost in favor of showing general issues in business practices in contrast to one another, I do reiterate that my goals are to demonstrate why and how social media isn’t being used properly by concentrating on both these aspects altogether.

The addition of confessionals (or interviews) are meant to corroborate or give evidence to the decisions made on part of businesses concerning social media use. Ultimately, one (of many) end-goals is to galvanize viewers into being open minded about using the tool as demonstrated by a company that does indeed use it already (or maybe one that decides to at the spur of the moment, should a boardroom conversation give way to flexibility on a company’s marketing strategy). Showing this thought process is key to allowing the student’s issue to be looked at in-depth, where the impact and changing of the stances toward the issue can be fully understood as a solution; a solution that has potential to be widespread. Feasibility-wise, I should have the skills and knowledge to produce such a documentary. After all, I have spent time refining my video-editing skills while studying for master’s degree as even prior to that, I was familiar with the practice and some of the key functions needed to produce videos.

Newer skills such as lighting, shooting with a camera and sound design are also in my arsenal, all of which I have the confidence to handle at this point in my studies. Concerning my knowledge in the area of social media (which is fairly decent), I will have an easy time knowing exactly what I should be looking for upon filming these boardroom meetings as far as appropriate uses for them, arguments against and so forth in business context. In addition, my sense of how productions like these are constructed as a viewer of documentaries and reality TV (competitions) comes into great use here as I look to produce for the first time for my own thesis; I do not only observe those program formats, I digest them. I also read up and listen to podcasts that cover the “behind the scenes” stuff in typical productions. I’m no expert but I’m very well informed about the production processes.

One topic I think that I would benefit from in making this documentary stand out is speech logic or the art of debating. I say this because part of the intent to make this documentary is to sway minds and argue a case for why social media is useful for companies to adopt for their the benefit of marketing and exposure to gain profits. As decision-makers sometimes cannot argue rationally and / or commit fallacies in shutting down an idea, it would be crucial to know and to highlight the differences between a good debater for or even against social media vs. a bad debater outright. Capturing this dichotomy will also help me structure the viewpoints more distinctively to the viewing audience. Lastly, based on logistics, the length of time to develop and produce this (or any) thesis is highly dependent on who I’m working with and the barriers that may arise from such.

Getting permission to film the usually private workplace meetings would definitely pose as a challenge. More so, having these people “confess” their thoughts will be difficult on their end because I neither want to end up with a heavily guarded answer nor do I want offensive comment that could be perceived as such, or an answer that might get someone into trouble. Nonetheless, if I could film 4 or 5 different boardrooms (all discussing social media use) and meticulously construct the interviews, a project like this may as well take 2 to 3 months to produce. This includes pre-production and story-editing in post. I would even liken this to how long it could take to produce my own individual thesis with a somewhat similar setup if pursued.

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