5 Lessons from “The End of Suburbia”

It’s often worth watching documentaries that suck in order to learn what not to do as a filmmaker. While watching the 2004 documentary “The End of Suburbia” (available on Netflix but don’t bother) several lessons occurred to me. Here’s my new list of what not to do in my own docs:

1. Don’t make a movie that relies only on white men of a certain age for interviews who all agree with one another and have all written books with titles that have colons in them.

2. Don’t make a movie that has no real things happening in it, just lecture and interview footage with some thinly layered b-roll and archival.

3. Don’t try to cram too many topics into 78 minutes.

4. Don’t seat interview subjects on a couch in front of a white wall.

5. Don’t have three interviews with the same person saying the same thing in three different locations for no apparent reason.

Oh, and a bonus: don’t have an on-screen narrator who reads a script like he’s ranting.

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Article by Arlen Parsa

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