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Mini-Doc Video Production

The name “Mini-Doc” is fairly self-explanatory. In essence, it’s a short-form documentary film that’s ideally every bit as polished and engaging as a feature film, but also punchy and tightly edited so that the messaging is highly focused. Mini documentaries, or mini-docs for short, are a powerful way to highlight a business, a program, a department, or to just generally tell an engaging story.

A woman sits during the lighting setup for a mini documentary interview.Mini-doc videos as a format choice are becoming more and more popular. Remember that “mini: is the operative word. You want to tell the story as quickly and concisely as possible, so the total run time will vary by project. We find that under five minutes is a great rule of thumb, but the 90-seconds to 2-minutes is the sweet spot for retention.

Creating successful, effective mini-docs requires documentary experience. To break the rules, you need to first understand the rules and the medium. At ECG Productions, we’ve produced five feature-length documentaries, as well as over 500 episodes of reality television, most of it in the “follow-doc” genre.

Creating great documentary content is all about constructing a great story. That process starts in pre-production with writing great interview questions and charting out potential storylines. It continues with getting enough coverage and having experienced producer on set with an eye on the various story elements who are making sure nothing is missed. A camera person can’t effectively concentrate on getting a great shot AND crafting a great story. They need help and documentary production is most definitely a team sport.

Leaving some budget and time for additional shoots AFTER the first round of interviews have been shot and combed through also ensures better content.  The producers are able to begin to pull out specific storylines and then target additional content to support them in the edit. This leads directly into the next part of the conversation: post-production.

Expert producers and a talented crew will ensure that the post team has all the raw materials to create the perfect final product… but the story is truly created in the edit. Beyond editing and story development, infographic animations are also a great way to break up talking heads and b-roll to make the story entertaining and engaging. ECG's in-house animation department creates stunning 2D and 3D motion graphics and digital animations, in addition to hand-drawn and traditional cell-style animated content.

A white hall and room photographed by a mini documentary filmmaker.The most important facet of mini-doc video creation is focusing on the viewer’s feelings. Cliched or forced stories don’t get traction, especially when everyone in your audience is used to consuming massive amounts of video media on a daily basis. Savvy viewers can smell poorly made content a mile away, and these days even most kids fall into the “savvy” column. Honest storytelling makes for great content.

For large brands, mini-docs can be a great way to humanize the organization. It’s easy to forget that a giant monolithic brand is built by, and comprised of, individual human beings who work very hard and have their own stories to tell. It’s incredibly powerful and compelling to show how much effort and work a real, diverse group of people are putting into amazing products and services. People love to get the story behind the story; to feel like they’re getting privileged information that’s not available to the masses.

Documentaries play to humanity’s innate curiosities about one another because they allow a safe way to act like a voyeur. Mini-docs also give you the advantage of subtlety. A story that leads someone to their own conclusion is much more effective than hitting someone over the head with direct, guileless messaging that feels sales-y. Beyond that, studies have shown that mini-docs that feature a positive message tend to be shared more via social media.

From a budgetary standpoint, mini-docs provide excellent flexibility, as the approach can scale directly with the budget. As long as you’ve got a talented producer who knows what he or she has to work with, they’ll be able to tailor the gameplan to get the maximum bang for your buck.

By way of example, here’s a typical soup-to-nuts mini documentary workflow that we would employ here at ECG Productions:

  1. Discovery session(s) with client
  2. Question writing/potential storyline identification
  3. B-roll/field shot-list creation
  4. Interview shoot/initial field shoot
  5. Add shots/storylines to hitlist based on interviews
  6. Additional field shoot(s)
  7. Assembly edit with interviews only
  8. Rough cut
  9. Fine cut with b-roll
  10. Graphics added
  11. Color correction/color grading
  12. Sound design
  13. Final audio mix
  14. Mastering

A person holding a camera lens at the golden hour.All this to say that ECG Productions is an outstanding choice for your mini documentary production needs. We understand every step of the story creation process, from pre-production to final delivery.

We know how to capture the best interviews, sound bites and supporting clips because our team includes seasoned producers as well as talented shooters, editors and animators who know how to develop a plan and execute it, on time and on

We know how to capture the best interviews, sound bites and supporting clips because our team includes seasoned producers as well as talented shooters, editors and animators who know how to develop a plan and execute it, on time and on budget.

Don’t just take our word for it. We have over 15 years of experience producing this type of content, and our portfolio is chock full of examples to illustrate just that fact.

We hope we’ll have the opportunity to tell your story!