Differences Between Directing Documentaries And Dramas

The talented director, Anthony Philipson, is well known for directing award-winning TV shows, in particular, documentaries and dramas. There are a lot of differences between the two but how do you direct them and how does this differ?


The main difference between the two is the intention behind them and how they are trying to make the viewer feel. Dramas are intended to entertain the audience while documentaries are made to inform the audience and sometimes promote a point of view. This, therefore, means there are differences in the cinematography needed. Dramas need to emotionally connect the audience to the characters. Meaning lots of different camera angles, movements and distances are used to help display the emotions. Documentaries on the other hand will use very similar camera angles and distances with few movements to help users understand and keep them focused on the subject.

Lighting And Sound

Following on, dramas will also use a lot of lighting and sound techniques to display meaning. Documentaries, however, will only use simple lighting to highlight the important object on the screen. Dramas will use different colours and lighting intensities to display the emotion of the scene. Sound is also used as a powerful tool to convey meaning, using music sound effects to create tension.


There are however some similarities as well. Both are intended to captivate and engage the audience. They are both also intended to tell a story through cinematography, whether true or fiction. Lots of techniques are used to keep the audience intrigued, asking questions and wanting to learn more. 


Some great examples in Anthony Philipsons’ work would be the BAFTA-winning, Ross Kemp On Gangs and primetime BBC 1 drama, Our Girl. Ross Kemp On Gangs is a fascinating factual documentaries series that takes the audience around the globe, learning about gange cultures in different cities. The drama, Our Girl, on the other hand, proved a completely different challenge for Anthony. The series follows a young woman as she makes the decision to join the army and is deployed into Afghanistan as an army medic.

Get In Touch

If you would like more information on Anthony Philipson and his range of directing, production and writing work please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us at: Independent Talent Group Ltd 40 Whitfield Street London, W1T 2RH Jack Thomas Tel: +44 20 7636 6565 Fax: +44 20 7323 0101

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