Documentaries and the Film Industry

Difference and Similarities Between Documentaries and Mainstream Movies

1. Purpose and Plot

Documentaries are not like commercial or general movies. General movies are made for profits. A mainstream movie can be made on fantasy or imaginary ideas. But, documentaries have informational purposes.
Ordinary movies often have a one-sided perspective. These movies showcase the world with a particular point-of-view. As a result, the plot may lack various types of opinions. Documentary films express and describe opinions from all sides. It can be said that a documentary film may contain opinions in favor and against the topic.
The purpose of ordinary movies is to impress the viewers. Ordinary or mainstream movies always strive to balance their stories. The work of grandeur and glamour fill these movies. But, documentary films are not the work of fiction. That’s why it contains raw information. It’s not made to impress the viewers. It presents real facts and supports it with strong evidence.

2. Production Costs or Budgets
A mainstream movie has a commercial purpose. It has a wide range of audience. Moreover, commercial movies convince their viewers to believe what they see. That’s why a huge budget is spent on these ordinary or mainstream movies.
For Instance – An ordinary film may have some action scenes. To shoot the scenes millions of dollars can be spent.
But documentaries don’t rely on animations and risky action scenes. A documentary can show some real videos from the news. Hence, the production cost of documentaries may not be as much as the mainstream movies.
Apart from that, documentaries don’t spend budgets on actors and actresses. In some rare cases, documentaries may require actors and actresses. But, acting is an essential part of a mainstream movie. So, they spend a big budget on the skilled actors and actresses.
Some documentaries research deep on the topic. In that case. documentary makers may have to spend a good budget. The producers may have to shoot in different locations. They may even have to bribe some people to get ‘the true’ information. Only in these cases, a documentary can be expensive.

3. Production Time

The average production time of an ordinary film can be 1 to 2 years. Though, some films may take more than 5 years to complete.
In the case of documentaries, time is a complex factor. The subject of the documentary plays an important role. A documentary on a complex subject may take years to complete.
For example – A documentary on environment pollution may take a few months to finish. But a documentary on data hacking may take a long time to finish.
So, the subject of a documentary decides the production time of the documentary.

4. Profit
Ordinary movies or mainstream movies are made for profits. Most of these mainstream movies make a profit. But most of the documentaries fail to earn a profit.
Documentaries are uploaded on the internet. People watch them for free. Sometimes documentary films are shown at the festivals. But without grandeur documentary films don’t attract a huge amount of viewers.

5. Viewership


Mainstream or general movies have a wide range of audience. Children, women, and adults can select their movie types. Hence, mainstream movies have global viewers.
Documentaries are full of knowledge and information. Very few people love to watch documentary films. To some people, it’s boring and dull. So, documentary films have a small viewership.

Nowadays the subject matters of documentary films are getting interesting. Documentaries are being presented in a new way. So, gradually more people are getting interested in documentaries.