[Tips] Doug Pray’s 7 Basic Rules for Making Docs

Doug Pray

I first met director Doug Pray shooting an interview in 2009 for UCLA Theater, Film and Television, while his film “Art & Copy” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Last month, he shared his 7 basic rules about making documentaries with Jonathan Wells at Flux, a creative community similar to ours here at FWD:labs. Here are three points that I’ve found especially relevant on recent doc shoots:

Research is essential, but pre-interviews with your subject can kill good interviews.

Short, simple questions in interviews are much better than long, rambling ones (which tend to be more about you, than your subject). The best question of all time is “why?”

Don’t ask your interviewees to “repeat the question in their answer.” Besides stressing them out and making them do your job for you, it leads to boring answers. When they give you one word, un-editable answers, just act stupid and ask them what they’re talking about, as if you forgot. Repetition is fine.

Got something to add or a whole new tip entirely? Post it in the comments below.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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