Creating a Corporate Documentary

In this post you’ll learn about what goes into creating a corporate documentary. But first, what is a corporate documentary? and why are they so effective? Before you read any further, take a look at the video below. It’s a documentary we made for Cameron, a Melbourne based industrial real estate company. 

So as you saw, a corporate documentary is just like any documentary. It’s a factual report on a particular subject using interviews, footage and images to tell the story. The documentaries you might be used to on TV differ from corporate documentaries in that there isn’t so much of an investigative approach. The underlying message behind a corporate documentary is decided in the pre production stage and the interviews therefore support that message.

A corporate documentary is effective because they are personal, honest and genuine. You’ll hear from real people speaking about their business in their own words. You can see how they operate and how they work. It’s also very hard to fake a corporate documentary. This is because without professional actors, anything that’s not real will be easy to spot. If the interviewees are given a particular script to follow then it never works well. You can extract the right information by asking the right questions but you can’t put words in somebody’s mouth.

Nick and James on a corporate shoot

Starting Out & Pre Production

The first step when you’re setting out to make a corporate documentary is to think about the story you want to tell. This stage involves asking yourself a lot questions about your business and really making sure you identify the main themes. And the theme needs to be the fundamental reasons why somebody might choose your product (it saves you time, it saves you money and so on).

Then you need to think about who should be in the video. Ask yourself who will be best on camera? who can speak on topics with the most authority? It’s also fine to have multiple interviewees saying a similar or the same thing. This not only gives the editor options but it also allows them to have people reinforce what the others are saying.

Thinking about what other footage you’d like to include is also important at this stage. Try to imagine the sort of things that will reinforce or demonstrate what your interviewees will be saying. If somebody is talking about how modern your facilities are then you’ll need footage to show that! Also think about anything that already exists that might come in handy. Old photographs or footage are great for painting the picture.


Shooting the video

Depending on the time you’ve allocated to filming, this could be over one day or multiple days. Usually the best approach is to find a day when all the interviewees will be available so you can film them all back to back.

You can give them an idea of what kind of things they’ll be talking about but we generally advise against giving them the questions before a shoot. This is because it often leads to people wanting to script their answers ahead of time and the results aren’t believable on camera. Sometimes it can be good to have one other person present, just to fact check as you go. There’s no pressure to get an answer right the first time either. Interviewees can have as many go’s as they need to say what they want to say.

We’ll bring flattering lights and a makeup kit to ensure that everyone looks their best. Remember, it’s our job to make you look and sound good.

Editing a corporate documentary

The Edit

At this stage our editor will take the interviews and the footage and begin to put the story together. We usually start by making an extended cut that’s sometimes double or triple the final length. This gives you the chance to tell us what sections you want included and what you think should go. Once our clients are happy with the content we add graphics, a colour grade and a sound mix.

Grading a corporate documentary

So there you go, that’s the process, it’s not as difficult as it might seem at first. If you’re looking to create a video that showcases your company then you’ll find the corporate documentary approach is highly effective and engaging. If you’re keen to get started but aren’t sure what to do first, take a look at this post we wrote about selecting the right video production company for you.