The Social Impact Of Documentaries In Shaping Consciousness

Mony Shah Entertainment 13 June 2024 7 Mins Read
The Social Impact Of Documentaries In Shaping Consciousness

The human mind is shaped by various factors, and storytelling, in the form of movies and entertainment, is one of them. Movies, as we perceive, are not just a source of entertainment- but a unique ability that captivates the audience. 

The society we thrive in has adopted a lot of customs, practices, and beliefs from the film industry, which necessitates the presence of documentaries. They have a massive social impact by challenging societal norms and igniting uncomfortable conversations. 

From gripping characters to thought-provoking narratives, let’s dive deeper into this comprehensive guide as it unfurls the true potential of documentaries. Read till the end and discover more.

Is A Documentary The Same As Usual Movies?

Is A Documentary The Same As Usual Movies_

Unlike fictional movies, documentaries hold some or total truth in them. In simple terms, it refers to a non-fictional motion picture that features real stories, dialogues, and sometimes characters. 

But what’s the purpose?

Well, basically, a documentary is made to educate society about unheard or untalked topics. Take Ava DuVernay’s 13th, for example, which draws attention to African American criminalization from the Civil War to date. 

Trust me, there are so many documentaries that change the social perspective and compel the spectator to think it through. In comparison to usual movies, documentaries are shorter in length.

Directors and makers focus more on showing the truth without exaggerating facts or making them more spicy. Documentaries have a different set of audiences who are more inclined towards discovering the societal truth. 

Do Cinemas Shape Social Consciousness? 

Do Cinemas Shape Social Consciousness_

Very often, cinemas are referred to as mirrors, reflecting the struggles and realities of a particular society. It basically shows a mirror to society, thereby allowing examination of our collective biases, challenges, and values. 

It is due to the social impact of documentaries that commoners get a better perspective of life. But that’s not the only purpose of these feature films. A number of filmmakers also leverage their skills to shed light on ongoing social issues and make viewers aware of stigmas. 

8 out of 10 feature filmmakers focus on human rights, inequality, social discrimination, and environmental concerns. The portrayal of these issues encourages the audience to take action individually because every drop counts!

The impeccable dominance of storytelling…

Stories, irrespective of the form they are presented in, can transport us to an altogether different world. It introduces us to characters who inspire us and help us discover our inner selves. 

Various characters represent justice, change, and resilience, thereby inspiring audiences and turning them into catalysts for social change. But that’s not where the social impact of documentaries ends; there’s more to it. 

Capturing The Artistry Of Documentary Movies

Capturing The Artistry Of Documentary Movies

Documentary movies have the potential to capture something more than the surface truth. It takes months of meticulous research and filmmaking to make the subject look more realistic to spectators. So, how do you make an aspiring documentary? Here’s how:

Select A Compelling Subject

First things first, choose a topic or subject that truly touches you- something you would love to work on. Until this time, you will possibly have a concept ready in your mind. 

The only consideration here is to determine the length and tone of the content and be consistent with your filming style. Craft the purpose of your documentary, your target audience, and the places where the documentary will be portrayed. 

Do Your Homework, Thoroughly

It might sound like a one-liner, but documentary-making takes a lot of research. Since you are dealing with accurate facts, there is no possibility of tweaking them. 

The last thing you would ever want is to experience public outrage because of misplacing data. Write whatever you find during your research, crosscheck, and, if possible, conduct interviews. 

You can include this interview footage in your documentary to make it more authentic. 

Choose Necessary Equipment For Filming

You cannot expect to make a social impact unless you have the right set of equipment with you. It might be a bit expensive, but don’t be scared to invest- it will actually pay you off in the long run. 

For instance, you must have a good-quality DSLR, mirrorless cameras, action cameras, and camcorders to record clear footage. Other necessities also include microphones and a tripod consisting of a gimbal or video head. 

Settle On A Particular Budget

Although this might not be a very important step, it is essential for short-time documentary directors and producers. For both big and small-picture documentaries, budget planning must be done around the following:

  • Studio charges and equipment
  • Liability insurance
  • Copyright charges
  • Production crew
  • Catering
  • Props
  • Marketing charges
  • Post-production editing

This might be the best time to find sponsorships and fundraising activities for your documentary. 

How Do Feature Movies Leave A Social Impact? 

How Do Feature Movies Leave A Social Impact_

One of the best things about documentaries is that they cover a broad spectrum of topics. From social issues to science and even the environment, there are so many angles covered in these movies. 

As such, one gets a detailed perspective of things not shown by other media channels. Additionally, a feature film crafts public opinion in numerous ways. Topics like poverty, discrimination, and racism were not discussed openly unless documentaries came into existence. 

Thirdly, they shape political opinion. Political features are implemented to critique political systems, thus offering a staunch platform for political idea exchange. It is due to these documentaries that some people (for e.g., those living in remote areas) know about the ongoing situations. 

In addition to crafting political opinion, they also have their contribution towards political and social issues. For instance, a documentary can impact public policy by addressing problems that are the most important. 

From influencing the behavior of people to changing their lifestyles- a feature film certainly has an impeccable impact on our lives. But it’s important that you choose documentaries that can actually shape your mind in the right direction. 

4 Must-Watch Documentaries Available On Netflix

4 Must-Watch Documentaries Available On Netflix

Do you have a hankering for real-life stories that move you? If yes, you must definitely watch these documentaries based on a social impact. These are readily available on the widely-popular streaming platform:


Icarus begins with a first-person point of view, exclaiming how doping works in sports. Bryan Fogel, the director, begins with injecting hormones and other doping methods into their routines. 

But things start to become worse when Fogel builds a connection with the head of the anti-doping program in Russia, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. This documentary is a must-watch for those who love to scratch the surface of any issue. 

Our Planet

Our Planet is a natural documentary series which is narrated by David Attenborough. The series addresses some major issues of climate change and conservation, making people aware of its necessity. 

If you are a core nature lover and wish to see some unseen animal footage, this web series deserves a watch. Directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fotherhill, who were also the co-directors of Frozen Planet and Planet Earth. 


Ava DuVernay’s 13th unveils the mass incarceration that took place in America. The reason why this documentary gained so much popularity is because it draws a clear line of distinction between the present carceral system in American and its history of slavery. 

Moreover, the 13th shows the cruelty followed in the country’s prisons. It was not a place for rehabilitation but where free labor was exploited. Check out this amazing masterpiece if you want to discover when did it all end. 

If you have a knack for diving deeper into a social impact, this documentary series is made for you. 

Athlete A

This Critics Choice Documentary, released in 2020, sheds light upon a team of investigative journalists. Most of them belonging to the Indianapolis Star released the disturbing incidents of sexual abuse that happened with the USA Gymnastics team. 

Based on Maggie Nichol’s story, Athlete A has been named to conceal her identity. Most of these abuses were done by Larry Nassar, a doctor in USA Gymnastics. The documentary comes with trigger warnings for graphic content and sexual abuse. Hence, watch mindfully!

Last but not least, if you want to dive deeper into USAG toxicity, go watch this web series on Netflix now!

Concluding Words

The role of documentaries in shaping public opinion cannot go unseen; after all, it’s a huge part of society. Entertainment, as we observe, is not only about making money- it’s about educating the entire society about things that are going on. 

These feature movies evoke emotions in us and urge us to do something for society. We all belong to a community; hence, if any wrongdoing is practiced here, we must not refrain from taking responsibility for doing it right. 

Having said that, here comes an end to this comprehensive guide. If it helped you gain necessary insight into the topic, do comment below and share your thoughts with us.

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With an adept skill of curating content on multiple genres, Mony has harnessed success as a Content Writer quickly. Find her sharing her profound thoughts and opinions on lifestyle, beauty, fashion, pets, and parenting.

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