Bringing a different perspective to stories, documentaries tell tales of the unheard. With audiences for the format expanding and streaming services like Netflix making them more accessible, documentaries have broken out from being just festival interests. Netflix brings the genre closer to its fans with Decoding Documentaries – a panel discussion where the fans got insights around the creative process of making documentaries from some of the best creators in filmmaking.
Claire Cahill, Series Producer, Crime Stories: India Detectives; Dylan Mohan Gray, Director, Bad Boy Billionaires; Leena Yadav, Showrunner, House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths along with Tanya Bami, Director, International Originals, Netflix India discussed what brings them close to the genre of documentaries. The panelists talked about the unseen journeys that these creators bring to life as they trace some real-life terrors, inexplicable stories of some breathtaking incidents, and what goes behind creating them.
Talking about the pre-production that Crime Stories: India Detectives required, Claire Cahill, Series Producer, Crime Stories: India Detectives said, “Crime Stories: India Detectives took almost 3 years to be made. Our first trip to Bangalore was in 2018 when we started conversations with the commissioner who was very responsive about making a series that followed live investigations. These conversations progressed and we obtained all the necessary permissions over a period of 18 months, our filming period was over 5 months. The process of gaining trust and having conversations with all the necessary parties in order to cover an investigation in the way that we did involve an enormous amount of work.”
Talking about the planning and research that went on, Dylan Mohan Gray, Director, Bad Boy Billionaires said, “So much of what we do in documentaries is about creating relationships of trust with different kinds of people. I understood the importance of diversity of voices and allowing the audience to triangulate what they feel about the story. During my research I realized that the story is quite different from the one that was put out there, it’s much more complex than that. The story is about many other things, it touched upon so many interesting aspects of Indian culture and society, this to me was very fascinating.”
Leena Yadav, Showrunner and Co-Director, House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths on how difficult it was to get people who were a part of the incident as part of the docu-series said, “Those were very difficult conversations, I must admit. But I will always remember a beautiful incident that happened, while we were interviewing the family members, one of them came up to me and thanked me saying that this was like therapy for him. This is when I felt as if we’re doing the right thing. We covered a total of 400 hours of interviews and having those conversations was definitely difficult and emotionally draining but this has been a big learning for me.”
Tanya Bami, Director, International Originals at Netflix India on what motivates Netflix to strongly foray into the documentaries genre said, “It is magical to sit in a room with a creator who has a vision and to go through that experience through their eyes. Netflix strives to bring creative excellence by enabling its vision and offering a window to reach audiences in 190+ countries. We want to tell stories that are authentic and relevant. It’s all about finding that unique story that has resonance within India, a distinct vision, and an engaging creative take. When a story is good and compelling, it finds an audience anywhere in the world.”
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