Crafting Your Documentary Story

Are you staring at a blank white page and/or hours of raw footage with NO CLUE what to do next?

Do you have an amazing story but struggling with how to structure all the elements into a compelling film?

Are you overwhelmed with all the elements of your story and having trouble keeping your audience engaged on a deep level?

Whether you're just starting out on your documentary journey or in the final stages, making a deeply emotional connection with your audience is THE critical element in the making of your film. It's EVERYTHING.

About This Course

The goal of this course is to help you find clarity with your story and provide a clear framework for how to weave it together in a compelling and emotional way that will move audiences.

You get a step by step workflow to help you organize all your footage, interviews and ideas into a structured, cohesive and compelling film.

You get an easy-to-follow roadmap for tackling every aspect of conceiving, scripting, shooting, and assembling your documentary.

Perhaps most important, this course will show you how to find the heart of the story that is waiting to be told – a story that will emerge as you develop your film.

To help clarify the concepts taught in the course, you'll have exclusive access to a case study of the making of HAROLD AND LILLIAN (Zeitgeist Films), including a step by step tutorial from the instructor on how he built the documentary script from scratch, plus access to view and download the complete full-length script.

Learn how to create compelling films that MOVE your audience emotionally.

In This Course You Will Learn:

  • How to organize all the scattered pieces of your story into a cohesive and engaging narrative

  • Powerful storytelling techniques to keep your audience glued to the screen

  • How to break down your film into a series of 8-12 sequences to create a compelling story arc

  • How to properly format your script and the best scriptwriting software

  • How to weave together your story beats (soundbites), scenes and sequences to create a compelling narrative

  • How to use dramatic conflict to create emotion within the audience

  • The core concepts of storytelling and how to use cinematic techniques to create greater impact

  • All the steps laid out to complete your film!


Loving The Experience

by Sally T. Muiruri

"I have learned so much so far, and loving the experience. I am learning a lot of fundamentals of documentary filmmaking, which are helping me sharpen my skills and refine my script."

"Enjoying the class..."

by Karyn Peyton

"Really enjoying the class so far, and I'm only on lesson one! I really like how the lessons use multimedia (text, exercises, videos). I'm bulking up my repertoire of docs and narrative films so I can start assembling my vision, like Daniel's implied!"


by Nikki Rose

"Fantastic course. It has been so informative and inspiring as I work to create my first documentary. It's important for new doc filmmakers to have opportunities to learn online now. And Daniel's class and his films are not only an inspiration but a closer look into how great doc films can be made."

Helping me explore

by Daniel Reyes

"I'm excited where this film will take me as a filmmaker, and what will unfold as a story. This course is really helping me explore important elements in my film and stepping back and being practical in my approach, so that it's not merely this abstract artistic attempt."

What's Inside The Course

  • Award-Winning Documentary Scripts

    A variety of script samples including TWO complete feature-length documentary scripts to view and analyze.

  • Step-By-Step Workflow

    A step-by-step multimedia scriptwriting workflow to help you find clarity and direction with your documentary

  • Interactive Learning

    Videos, workbooks, quizzes, slide shows, check-lists, activities and assignments create an engaging learning experience.

  • Production Resources

    Access to Daniel's personal resources including transcription services, storyboarding and writing services.

  • Pre-Formatted Script Template(s)

    Pre-formatted scriptwriting template in FINAL DRAFT .fdx and WORD .docx to craft your script.

Meet Your Instructor

Documentary Writer-Director Daniel Raim

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Daniel Raim attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Raim is known for his documentaries about overlooked artists of Hollywood's Golden Age, including "The Man on Lincoln's Nose," nominated for the 2001 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject. Raim's 2015 doc "Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story" premiered as an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival, was nominated for The Golden Eye (L'Œil d'or, le prix du documentaire - Cannes) and got distribution on Netflix. In addition to his theatrical films, Daniel has written, produced, and directed 28 original documentaries for the Criterion Collection about cinema masters, including John Cassavetes, Buster Keaton, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Kelly Reichardt. In 2019, Raim directed and produced ​the TCM feature documentary "Image Makers: The Adventures of America's Pioneer Cinematographers." In Spring of 2022, Daniel's brand new Jeff Goldblum-narrated documentary feature, "Fiddler's Journey to the Big Screen," had its theatrical release through Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber and is now streaming on Paramount+. Follow Daniel's work at

Bonus Material

As part of this course, you'll get a bonus Documentary Case Study of Daniel Raim's award-winning documentary "Harold and Lillian".

  • Case Study

    Go step by step through the making of an award-winning feature-length documentary script.

  • Full-Length Documentary Script

    Access and download the complete script for the award-winning documentary HAROLD AND LILLIAN

  • VIP Pass

    Private access to watch Daniel's award-winning full-length feature documentary film HAROLD AND LILLIAN. (Zeitgeist Films)

Certificate Of Completion

Once you complete the course, you will receive a personalized "Certificate Of Completion".

This is a high quality digital certificate great for including with your resume or CV, sharing with a professor or even to print/frame for your wall.

With the click of a button, instantly share the certificate to your favorite social page (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc). Fancy!

Highly recommend

by Cristina Candy/Documentary Filmmaker

"Great material!! I am modifying my own documentary to incorporate many of the new ideas I picked up. I really like the format because it forces me to look at my material in new and fresh ways to tighten up the story. I highly recommend it to anyone with a love of storytelling in the visual medium. I wish I had taken this before I began my own documentary two years ago but am glad to have benefited from this course material."

Well worth time + $

by Dee McCrorey

"Great #doc #scriptwriting masterclass led by @DanielRaim @DesktopDocs Well worth the investment of time + $."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does the course start or end on certain dates?

    When signing up for the course, you can begin immediately or whenever is the right time for you. You get a Lifetime Access pass which means lifetime of the course. So as long as the course is live on our site, you have access! There are no beginning or ending dates. Ideally, we recommend taking 8-weeks to go through the content, focusing on one section/module at a time once per week. But you can take the course in 8 days, 8 weeks or 8 months.. whatever works best for you!

  • Will I have a completed script by the end of this course?

    That depends on you! If that is your goal, then yes. This course takes you step by step through the scriptwriting process from beginning to end. So if you already have your interviews shot and content gathered, then this course can definitely get you to the finish gate.

  • What is the format of the course?

    The format of the course is a mix of video instruction, screencasts, text, downloads, quizzes and assignments, plus you get live group Q&A coaching calls with the instructor throughout the year.


You get a 30-Day 100% Money Back Guarantee, so there's absolutely no risk.

Immediately following your purchase you'll have instant access to the course and you can get started on your first lesson right away.

Documentary Storytelling & Scriptwriting 101 Essentials

Step-By-Step: Creating Compelling & Impactful Documentaries - An Oscar-Winning Approach!

Buy Now: $249

"Thank you for the fascinating class. I took continuing education classes on the subject of documentary film making at NYU and SVA and none of them came close to the quality of material you covered in just the first 3 chapters I took so far."

- Nitsan T.