The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making
by Jeffrey Friedman, Robert Epstein, and Sharon Wood
August 2012, 239pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99225-5
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08453-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmakers Jeffrey Friedman and Robert Epstein and veteran documentary writer and producer Sharon Wood show readers how to handle the process of making their own nonfiction film—from conception and financing through shooting, post-production, and distribution.

The past few years have featured such blockbusters as Super-Size Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, March of the Penguins, and An Inconvenient Truth. And as news articles proclaim a new era in the history of documentary films, more and more new directors are making their first film a nonfiction one. But in addition to posing all of the usual challenges inherent to more standard filmmaking, documentaries also present unique problems that need to be understood from the outset. Where does the idea come from? How do you raise the money? How much money do you need? What visual style is best suited to the story? What are the legal issues involved? And how can a film reach that all-important milestone and find a willing distributor? Epstein, Friedman, and Wood tackle all of these important questions with examples and anecdotes from their own careers. The result is an informative and entertaining guide for those just starting out, and an enlightening read for anyone interested in a behind-the-scenes look at this newly reinvigorated field of film.

Jeffrey Friedman and Robert Epstein are filmmakers and cofounders of Telling Pictures Inc, based in San Francisco. Their film Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Between them, Robert and Jeffrey have won three Peabodys, five Emmys, and many film festival awards and other honors. Epstein won another Academy Award for Best Documentary for The Times of Harvey Milk. Friedman has been a visiting lecturer in documentary filmmaking at Stanford University and Epstein chairs the Film Program and is a professor at California College of the Arts.

Sharon Wood, in addition to working with Robert and Jeffrey on Where Are We?, The Celluloid Closet, and Paragraph 175, has served as writer on three Oscar-nominated documentaries and written and produced many others, most recently Manifest Destiny, a historical series on U.S. foreign policy for Lucasfilm.


"Great filmmakers don't necessarily make for great authors or teachers of their craft, but in the case of The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making, Jeffrey Friedman, Robert Epstein and Sharon Wood manage to bring all their expertise as award-winning filmmakers and weave it, seamlessly, into this excellent and practical guide to documentary-making. . . . By the book's conclusion, you will feel as though you have experienced all the ups and downs in this complex process of moviemaking right alongside some of the best in the business."—, October 12, 2012

"Rob and Jeffrey’s documentaries have been inspirations for me since I first became aware of them as a teenager watching The Celluloid Closet at my neighborhood movie theater. Their work reflects a deep commitment to craft and to authenticity—qualities I experienced first-hand when we worked together on HOWL. This book—a guide-book, a how-to manual, and a filmmaking memoir—is a gift to anyone interested in making nonfiction films."—James Franco, Actor and Director

"The Art of Nonfiction Movie Making is an indispensable resource for documentary filmmakers—as well as directors of nonfiction dramatic narrative—whether just starting out or experienced. Full of detailed case studies, it provides insight into all corners of the production process from world-renowned filmmakers with over 30 years of experience."—Kris Samuelson, Professor and Director of the Film and Media Studies Program, Stanford University
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