Sometimes when you are pursuing an acting career (or you are helping your kid do this) it can feel like waiting to be “chosen.”

When will someone see how great you are and give you the role that will launch your career? But waiting to be “chosen” is much less powerful than choosing yourself.

There are many ways to get a career in the entertainment industry rolling. Some of them involve getting BEHIND the camera.

Acting is storytelling, and so is filmmaking. In the old days, there was little crossover between the different genres (theatre, film, and TV) and people generally stuck to a single specialty. Today, some of the biggest stars are people who cross not only genres, but specialties too.

New media platforms and the lower cost of high quality equipment can give aspiring young filmmakers direct access to audiences, as well as the affordable tools they need to share their vision.

Two of my previous podcast guests, Dylan Playfair and Hannah Kyle Crichton, have produced documentaries. Dylan is primarily known as an actor (Descendants 2, Letterkenny, Haters Back Off) and Hannah started as an actor before pivoting to talent booking (she currently books stand-up talent for Jimmy Kimmel Live) and producing documentaries. Dylan has co-produced The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote. And Hannah has produced Bite to the Future and both directed and produced A Russian Summer, which is currently in post-production.

Documentaries can be powerful—they can change hearts, minds, and behavior. They can educate and inspire us. They can make us laugh.

And for young people who want to break into the film industry, they can be a terrific, hands-on way to learn many of the ropes from the inside-out.

But how exactly does one create a documentary? Even a simple one has many moving parts.

J. Miller has written an excellent, step-by-step post on Jen Reviews, called How to Make a Documentary. In it, she details, with practical tips and advice, exactly how to make a documentary—even for beginners.

The article includes:

  • How to choose your subject matter
  • Equipment you will need
  • Budgeting
  • Research
  • Outlining/storyboarding
  • Filming interviews
  • B-roll
  • Editing
  • Telling a story
  • Choosing the right music
  • Promotion

It’s the best concise resource on how to make a documentary that I’ve seen.

Many actors discover that what they really love—sometimes more than acting– is the entertainment industry itself.

The creative, collaborative magic that drives film and TV (and theatre too) can be a joy to experience, and can make the very long days it requires worth it.

I believe all artists can benefit from learning as much about their art, from different sides, as possible. This may mean taking a screenwriting class, or shadowing a director, or studying great performances through award-nominated films. Or studying the way a story is told through the creation and editing choices of a documentary.

Making a documentary may or may not be something that calls to you or your young actor—but if it sounds intriguing, or you have a story to tell that would lend itself to that approach—this article is a good place to start.

For more information, check out the International Documentary Association HERE:

I work with parents who want to help their child become an actor, safely and successfully. A single consulting session with me can make a huge difference. Let me save you months of time, and thousands of dollars. Sign up for a Skype session today! Or if you’re in LA, we can meet in person. Sometimes a couple of tweaks in your approach can make all the difference, giving you real progress, and peace of mind. Sign up here: