APPLICATIONS FOR THIS CATEGORY ARE OPEN FROM MARCH 1ST 2021Awarded to the best radio documentary production. Must be produced expressly for broadcast on student radio. Submit one episode, or montage of episodes (maximum 1 hour), broadcast since February 2020.
- Story – A clear sense of story will help keep your listener engaged. Your story needs a beginning, middle and end. Ideally with a few surprises along the way. For this reason a ‘topic-based’ documentary may be more difficult to structure. A documentary can explore a topic via a story and will often be stronger for it. If you choose a ‘topic’ based documentary, it is helpful to choose one that has tension.
- Characters Identify your characters. You want your listener to care one way or another for your characters. Tell us what you can about them and help the listener get to know the characters in your documentary. Help the listener care about your character by bringing them into their world.
- Actuality. Try to create a window into a world. If you are making a documentary that is based in a tattoo shop, help the listener feel like they are in the tattoo shop. So, record the tattoo artist as he is working, the customer in the chair – how do they feel? Nervous? Excited? Record the sound of the needle, the sound of the shop. Take the listener in through the front door. When you go to record someone, turn your recorder on before you even meet them and don’t turn it off until after you have said goodbye. There will be gems in those recordings that will help to bring your documentary alive.
- Editing. A series of interviews placed beside each other does not a documentary make. Edit your contributors to tell a story and create a dramatic arc. Cut them together in an interesting way. Think about how elements like music/ archive/ found sound can add texture to your documentary.
- And lastly: Listen to radio documentaries! Listen to them critically and note what ones you enjoy. Why do you enjoy them? When do you find your mind drifting away from a documentary? Think of the documentaries you have enjoyed – and identify the story that is being told, the characters that tell it and how it is being told. Remember: a radio documentary is a much longer listen than most other forms of radio so you need to find ways of engaging your listener.