How To Create Your Own YouTube Documentary Series

YouTube is home to all different kinds of content, from comedy to beauty to gaming. However, one type of content you may not expect to find on YouTube is documentaries. Though documentaries are popular on platforms such as Netflix, there aren’t many vloggers creating documentaries of their own.

However, longtime YouTuber Shane Dawson is changing the game. After nearly a decade spent creating short films, sketches, and other comedy videos, Shane decided to shake up his content. Recently, he’s created several documentary series that captivated millions of viewers.

By examining the videos Shane made, you can learn how to create your own YouTube documentary series.

1. Pick a topic you’re passionate about investigating.

When you’re planning to take on a big project such as a documentary, choosing a topic you’re passionate about will make it easier to dedicate yourself to working hard. You don’t have to pick something timely or trendy. As long as you can make it entertaining, you will find an audience.

Before Shane filmed a series with Bunny Meyer, the creator behind Grav3yardgirl, her channel had yet to reach the trending page. However, after he investigated why her views were down, videos on both channels started getting millions of views. Both longtime subscribers and new viewers were captivated by the secrets Shane uncovered while visiting Bunny in Texas.

2. Find subjects to interview.

The next step is to find the people and places your documentary series will focus on. Begin your search with the friends and family your viewers are already familiar with. Have you ever collaborated with someone affected by your topic? Does one of your friends know an expert in the field you’re investigating?

Shane’s most popular documentary series focused on uncovering the truth behind the failed YouTube convention Tanacon. Because he’s friends with Tana Mongeau, who created Tanacon, Shane was able to interview her at her house. He reached another interview subject through Facetime.

3. Gather a crew.

Because a documentary series takes more work to create than an average YouTube video does, you may find yourself in need of a crew. Hire a videographer or ask a friend to help you out. You may also find it helpful to have an assistant director, an editor, or just an extra set of hands.

For his documentary projects, Shane works with Andrew Siwicki, his cameraman. Andrew films while Shane conducts the interviews. In his series with Bunny, Shane brought along his boyfriend and a few other friends as well.

4. Make a list of questions.

Before interviewing your subjects, make a list of the questions you want to ask them. Start by writing out as many as you can. Then, depending on how much time you have for the interview, narrow your questions down. When conducting your interviews, use these questions to guide your conversation.

In the opening of his series on Tanacon, Shane discussed the questions he wanted the project to address. Because he went into his interviews knowing what he wanted his subjects to talk about, he was able to get a lot of great information out of his interviews.

5. Edit your footage into several episode-length videos.

After you’ve conducted your interviews and gathered any other video clips you want, you’ll probably have way more footage than you need. Consider how long of a video your viewers are used to watching. Determine how many episodes you want to upload and edit your series accordingly.

Though they’ve said they have hours of footage, Shane and Andrew edited their documentary series into three parts each. By breaking it up, Shane increased both his view count and his overall watch time.

Shane Dawson’s innovative documentary series are influencing both viewers and creators. Consider creating a YouTube documentary series of your own.

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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.

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