Gone are the days when the documentary was considered quite boring. People would watch a documentary on a lazy Sunday evening or when they had nothing interesting to watch. Unless the topic of the documentary was interesting, people wouldn’t bother to add a documentary to their entertainment list. But that era is long gone. It seems like documentaries have become a major trend in the entertainment industry these days.
According to the research, the UK has witnessed a growth in the number of documentaries produced. There were only 4 documentaries produced in 2001. The number jumped to 86 in the year 2015 . So, what in the documentaries have made these non-fictional and educational films quite popular? Let’s find out.
Documentaries – Commercially Viable Films
Even though they are not as popular as the fictional films and the latest blockbusters, the demand for documentaries is on the rise. Sacro GRA, A Story of Children and Film, One Child Nation, Fyre, and American Factory are some of the popular documentaries of 2019 that won several hearts . The world’s first documentary namely ‘Nanook of the North’ released in 1922. The sad fact is that the non-fictional movie market collapsed after the release of the first documentary. In fact, documentaries became popular as the educational movies that were good for people to watch.
Sure, people would watch them as they were quite informative. However, they never considered it a source of entertainment. Today, people are obsessed with documentaries. Maybe it is because of the advanced technology the filmmakers use to shoot the impeccable scenes. Maybe it is the authenticity of the characters that bring the storytelling concepts in non-fiction films. Maybe the filmmakers have become creative in terms of adding drama to a movie that portrays reality. The creativity of filmmakers, writers, producers, and directors is clearly visible in these non-fictional films.
It might sound pretty ironic, but people are shifting to the realistic and authentic entertainment content in this post-truth era. What could be a better way to get to know the real world and the authentic culture than watching these non-fictional documentaries?
Technology, Filmmaker’s Art, and Interest Make Documentaries Mainstream
From being a lecture video of one or two people talking about their favorite topics to embracing the storytelling approach, documentaries have witnessed a revolution. It is all about the way these non-fictional films are presented. Not only do the filmmakers pick highly engaging subjects, but they make sure the documentary is shot in as realistic and engaging way as possible. Earlier, filmmakers preferred to put an artificial layer in the documentaries to keep up the viewer’s engagement. Today, filmmakers interview real people, capture their exact reactions and reveal their real emotions. These non-fictional movies bring reality in front of us without compromising on the viewer’s engagement.
The interesting part is that the documentaries get millions of views from the 16-24 age group people. This suggests that youngsters are interested in embracing a change in their source of entertainment. And, this is not because the documentaries are educational. But, the advanced technology and amazing shots make it far better than the standard black & white non-fictional movies that only involved a lecture on an educational subject .
A Golden Age of Documentary
Even filmmakers are pretty surprised to witness this sudden growth in the documentaries over the past few years. It had always been an untapped market until 2000. The United States has already embraced the documentary filmmaking challenge. In fact, the non-fictional film market in the US is growing at a fast pace. It might still be too early to say that the world has entered the golden age of documentary. But, with more and more people loving the idea of reality-based non-fictional films, the documentary has become quite mainstream today.
Another factor that adds to the growth of documentary is the user’s interest in fact-based content. Today, people are highly interested in watching realistic movies that deliver an informative and educational message. Of course, this doesn’t make fictional and thriller movies less popular. In fact, the fictional movies are still considered the most sought-after option. But, people have started investing more in factual content than ever before .
Moreover, shooting a film has become a whole lot easier for filmmakers today. Even people find it easier to download their favorite documentary on smartphones or stream them on desktops. They spend a relaxing and fun evening watching an informative documentary from the comfort of their homes.
- Pierce, Eve, “The Rise And Rise Of The Documentary” Raindance, 3rd February 2017 https://www.raindance.org/rise-rise-documentary/,
- Del Barco, Mandalit, “The Documentary Is In — And Enjoying — An ‘Undeniable Golden Age’” NPR, 19th February 2019 https://www.npr.org/2019/02/19/696036323/the-documentary-is-in-and-enjoying-an-undeniable-golden-age,
- Frangelton, Stella, “The rise of the documentary as popular cinema” ScreenRobot, 9th July 2019 https://screenrobot.com/rise-documentary-popular-cinema/,
- Shinnick. Tanner, “Why We’re in the Golden Age of Documentary Filmmaking” Premium Beat, 22nd July 2019https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/golden-age-of-documentary-filmmaking/,