Documentaries need scripts just as any good movie does. The documentary process, however, can look very different. Depending on the route the script takes. If you have footage that’s specific enough, it may be edited to create a story and even in a preliminary version can be used to write a script around. In other cases a subject matter will be picked and footage will be edited together to fit the narrative designed by the writer. In this case either the writer knows enough about the subject to write the script unaided, or facts and specific situations will be given to a writer to put into the script. Often it’s a hybrid of all these things. It is a little less common to write a script for a documentary with out any footage to go on yet. In this day and age where we have footage of almost everything it becomes a lot easier to do things this way with the confidence, that you can find footage that fits the narrative as needed.
Documentaries come on three basic flavors, mostly dependent on the demographic. The first is the old school dry statistic fueled diatribe that represents a nap time for most modern viewers. These are normally bereft of flavor in the form of colorful narrative, or human emotions. They are basically statistic sheets in video form. Informative, but with the data being so monotonous, it can be tough to absorb it. The second flavor is the kids variety, heavy on the anecdotal evidence, and first person perspective. It can be full of half truths. Although most of these do not attempt to specifically deceive their audience they lay out the evidence in such broad generalities that the truth often gets shifted in order to fit an easier explanation. The third flavor is the Victim based documentaries. These include subjects such as “Bitten by…”, or “Attacked by…” in which the entire documentary focuses on the event side of the science which relies almost exclusively on the anecdotal side of evidence presentation. The best documentaries usually incorporate a little of each of these types with a sliding scale on each, like a color chart having hue, saturation, and tone. Depending on where the numbers are the biggest you can tailor most documentaries to almost any demographic with out getting too far from the truth which is supposed to be the main point of a documentary.
Ext – Day
On Screen: Pangaea early Jurassic
a fern filled scene with ancient Jurassic Era creatures roaming the land
Camera Starts on a mid angle shot of the field and slowly pans towards the earth
Approximately 286 million years ago on the still separating super continent known as Pangaea. Lives a small plant, that would eventually dominate the skyline of forested regions the world over. Here in the chaotic Darwinian battle for survival grows a new species of plant. The first of it’s kind, and a cousin to the modern day junipers and cypress trees that may grow in your very yards.
Unlike the ferns that dominate the landscape around it, this little, would be, tree grows it’s leaves in tight little scaled hair like projections, known as spines. Unlike the cacti, which will grow needles of it’s own, these are not dead cells modified for defense. These needles are living breathing leaves that are essential to the existence of the plant. This father of the Family Cupressaceae, will have many failed off shoots in time. Living on the plains of the Jurassic will help mold it, and it’s ancestors to come.
A grassy Tundra scene with mid jurrasic era creaturs roaming about
Camera pans down from a passing herbivore
On Screen: Laurasia 286 B.C. (Near Colorado, N. America)
On the continent that would eventually break off to become Laurasia the predecessor to North America. A descendant of the Cupressaceae plant known as Sequoia Affinis grows in a field in what will become Colorado. This little plant is the progenitor to the Sequoia Genus, three of it’s descendants live to this day with some of them living in to the millenniums.
Shot of the Sequoia Affinis separating into three slightly different plants. Labels under them list them as the three existing branches of the genus: Sequoia, Sequoiadendren, metasequoia
We jump ahead to about 144 B.C. and we see an offshoot of the sequoia known as the sequoiadenreron. a warmer climate cousin. Then just 44 million years later we get our final surviving off shoot, the Metasequioa which will reside in the far east away from it’s cousins in North America. Although occupying much of the continents on which they reside at various points in their history, by the time the Metasequioa arose, they had found very distinct ranges near their modern habitats.
Camera starts with a close up of some forest detritus and slowly pulls back and up to find it’s self in the middle of an old growth coastal redwood forest in the pacific north west.
On Screen: Holocene Era (Present Day)
The Holocene or “Entirely New” Era contains one of the greatest Flora treasures ever produced. Although evidence of much larger but rare, trees have been found in the fossil record, it was postulated that a larger earth circumference, lead to weaker surface gravitational restrictions on the plants ability to move nutrients and needed water up it’s trunk to sustain it’s massive infrastructure. Douglas Fir trees in the same areas as the Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coastal Redwoods were measures by lumber companies to be taller then the redwood neighbors by around 50 feet on average. It is thought these massive firs were lumbered to extinction about 100-150 yrs ago. Which leaves the legacy of the now tallest trees on planet earth, the Coastal Redwood.
Camera shows shots of tourists walking through the redwoods and the size comparisons.