Documentary Storytelling has reached filmmakers and filmgoers worldwide with its unique focus on the key ingredient for success in the growing global documentary marketplace: storytelling. This practical guide reveals how today’s top filmmakers bring the tools of narrative cinema to the world of nonfiction film and video without sacrificing the rigor and truthfulness that give documentaries their power. The book offers practical advice for producers, directors, editors, cinematographers, writers and others seeking to make ethical and effective films that merge the strengths of visual and aural media with the power of narrative storytelling.  

In this new, updated edition, Emmy Award-winning author Sheila Curran Bernard offers:

  • New strategies for analyzing documentary work
  • New conversations with filmmakers including Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers), Kazuhiro Soda (Mental), Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga), and Cara Mertes (JustFilms)
  • Discussions previously held with Susan Kim (Imaginary Witness), Deborah Scranton (The War Tapes), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), and James Marsh (Man on Wire).

chapter |16 pages


part |103 pages

Understanding Story

chapter |18 pages

Story Basics

chapter |16 pages

Finding the Story

chapter |23 pages

Story Structure

chapter |11 pages

Time on Screen

chapter |11 pages

Creative Approach

chapter |19 pages

Close Viewing

part |110 pages

Working with Story

chapter |16 pages


chapter |15 pages

Planning and Pitching

chapter |20 pages

Treatments and Proposals

chapter |14 pages


chapter |22 pages


chapter |17 pages

Narration and Voice-Over

chapter |2 pages

Storytelling: A Checklist

part |112 pages

Talking about Story

chapter |12 pages

Alex Gibney

chapter |10 pages

Susan Kim

chapter |15 pages

James Marsh

chapter |14 pages

Cara Mertes

chapter |13 pages

Stanley Nelson

chapter |14 pages

Deborah Scranton

chapter |16 pages

Kazuhiro Soda

chapter |14 pages

Orlando von Einsiedel

part |8 pages

Additional Material

chapter |6 pages