Television Broadcasting Tutorial 40

The Importance of Access

The best documentary-makers lead the viewer deep inside the subject of their films. They achieve a level of access with their camera that captures the raw reality of the world they are trying to document. A sufficient degree of trust is developed with the major contributors in advance that enables this access to take place, which can take considerable time and effort – and sometimes luck – to secure.

Access is the topic of this post. You are going to see links to content about two very different films that are successful exactly because of what their remarkable level of access reveals: Cartel Land and Living with Lions. But first, a link to the latest podcast about how documentaries are made from On The Media by WNYC in the States. This episode of ‘Bob’s Docs’ is about access in documentaries, and includes an interview with Matthew Heineman about his award-winning documentary Cartel Land.

On The Media – ‘Bob’s Docs’: Access

Cartel Land Trailer


This is a masterclass interview with Matthew Heineman


Living With Lions

living with lions poster

Living With Lions is widely regarded as the best documentary about British sport as it takes the viewer deep behind the scenes during the British Lions rugby tour of South Africa is 1997. It is jaw-droppingly revealing, and is still the benchmark for fly-on-the-wall filmmaking about subjects in sport.

Here is a BBC Radio documentary about the making of the filming, including interviews with the production team behind Living with Lions.

This is a Q&A interview with the director of the film, Fred Rees, to mark its 20th anniversary in 2017.

And this is the documentary’s most famous clip: Jim Telfer’s ‘Everest Speech’ before the first Lions test against South Africa. The raw intimacy of the scene is its strength.




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