What is an Outline?
‘The outline for a documentary explicitly (rather than implicitly) takes the form of a proposal, although it must still fulfil the demand of telling the reader WHO, WHAT and HOW. With a documentary, unless all the materials already exist (in say, photographs, maps and archival footage) and the filmmakers have seen them, the proposal is somewhat more speculative. The documentary film has multiple agendas, which should be reflected in the proposal. The proposal will tell the story of the proposed film, making clear who it is about and how the story will be told. It will make clear that the film intends to explore an issue and what that issue is. How will the film do that? The film will deliver an argument. How? With what style or method?
It describes how the film will show the audience something new, even on a subject the audience already knows something about. Among other things, the outline sets out what you want to do before you really know if you can. Even so, it must convince the reader that there is a story within the material.
The outline must show:
– That there is a narrative, which can be extracted from or imposed on this factual material.
– That the filmmakers have access to their characters and, especially, to the resources necessary to make the film.
– Suggest how those resources will be used to tell the story.
The outline, then, should state why this subject matters to the filmmaker and why the filmmaker believes it will matter to an audience.’
Here is the Outline for Instability: